Rick Ankiel likely sidelined through the weekend
Rick Ankiel got off to a great start with the Royals, hitting .308 with three homers and three doubles through 11 games, but then went into a 1-for-21 slump that dropped his OPS nearly 250 points and suffered a strained right quadriceps muscle while running out a ground ball Saturday. Ankiel hasn’t played since the injury, sitting out five straight games, and Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports that he’s unlikely to rejoin the lineup before Monday. However, manager Trey Hillman said the Royals aren’t thinking about placing Ankiel on the disabled list because they “want that bat available off the bench as a pinch-hitter.” Ankiel started 16 of the first 17 games in center field as part of Kansas City’s touted “three center fielders” outfield, but it was really more like a “three corner outfielders who at some point played center field” outfield because Ankiel has never graded out well there and Scott Podsednik doesn’t even look very good in left field at this point. Not surprisingly the Royals’ outfield has combined for an Ultimate Zone Rating of -2.7 runs this season to rank 19th in baseball, although Ankiel’s center field replacement, Mitch Maier, has actually posted a positive number while filling in this week.