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8/12/2014 7:05 P.M. ET

Stiff neck lands Downs on 15-day DL

Transaction makes room for recently acquired outfielder Willingham

KANSAS CITY -- Left-handed pitcher Scott Downs was placed on the Royals' 15-day disabled list on Tuesday, clearing a roster spot for newly acquired outfielder Josh Willingham.

Downs was diagnosed with a cervical facet sprain with spasms; translated, that means he woke up with a stiff neck on Monday.

The affliction made things difficult with Downs' pitching motion, and officials put him on the DL backdated to Aug. 3, the day after he last pitched at Oakland.

Downs, signed as a free agent on July 6, has made 12 relief appearances for the Royals, posting a 3.48 ERA and receiving one loss. He began the season with the White Sox, pitching in 38 games.

Willingham was obtained on Monday from the Twins in exchange for Triple-A pitcher Jason Adam.

Hosmer set to have X-rays on fractured hand

KANSAS CITY -- Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer will have X-rays taken on his fractured right hand on Thursday.

Hosmer went on the disabled list on Aug. 2 after aggravating the original injury, which occurred on July 20 when he was hit by a pitch from then-Red Sox starter Jon Lester. Hosmer is expected to require three to six weeks of recovery time, starting the day the Royals placed him the DL.

Entering Tuesday, the Royals were atop the American League Central standings after winning eight in a row.

"It's obviously what you want, you want the guys to pick me up when I'm gone and get some wins, and they've been playing phenomenal," Hosmer said. "I'm working hard to join these guys and I can't wait until it comes."

Hosmer has posted a .267/.312/.377 triple slash line this season. But from June 30 to July 20, he hit in 16 straight games with a 1.089 on-base plus slugging during that stretch.

"I think Hoz is a competitor, he wants to get back, he knows he can contribute, but the guys have done a nice job filling in for him when he was hurt," manager Ned Yost said.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. Jackson Alexander is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.