The Royals announced that they’ve placed center fielder Lorenzo Cain on the 15-day disabled list with a hamstring strain and recalled outfielder Brett Eibner from Triple-A Omaha in his place. Cain sustained a hamstring injury in last night’s contest while attempting to beat out an infield single.
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The 30-year-old Cain hasn’t enjoyed quite as productive a season as he did in 2015, but he’s still been a very important piece for the Royals in 2016, batting .290/.336/.416 with eight homers, six steals and tremendous defense in center field. The injury to Cain could shift the fleet-footed Jarrod Dyson over to center field, leaving Kansas City with an alignment of Alex Gordon, Dyson and Paulo Orlando as its regular unit for the yet-unannounced length of time that will be missed by Cain. While that’s a defensively sound trio, Dyson doesn’t come with the same offensive prowess as Cain, and the Royals’ lineup (23rd in the Majors in runs scored, 15th in OPS, 17th in wRC+) isn’t exactly equipped to lose one of its better overall contributors after already seeing Mike Moustakas go down for the year due to a torn ACL.
The Royals are already facing a six-game deficit in the American League Central as they look to defend their World Series title, though they’re still four games over the .500 mark and just a half game back from one of the two American League Wild Card positions, so the loss of Cain doesn’t figure to dramatically alter the team’s thinking. Kansas City still seems like a reasonable bet to seek upgrades on the trade market this summer. If anything, the loss of Cain could create a greater sense of urgency to augment the current roster, though any speculation as to how the club will proceed is best curbed until the extent of Cain’s hamstring injury is known.