MINNEAPOLIS -- Jarrod Dyson got the nod over Lorenzo Cain to start in center field for the Royals on Thursday night, and not just because a right-hander was starting for the Twins and Dyson swings left-handed.
That figures into it, but so do other factors such as matchups, and that Cain was in a 0-for-18 slide and Dyson was 3-for-7 since coming off the disabled list.
"Cain's one of those guys that when he gets hot, he gets hot and he's smoking balls all over the park," manager Ned Yost said. "Right now he's in a little bit of a lull offensively, so you take the advantage to get Dyson some games in there because you know when Cain gets hot, nobody's going to be playing but him."
Yost says he's not ready to return Dyson to the leadoff spot, where he was before going on the disabled list.
"Not right now. I like the way it sets up right now," Yost said, meaning with Alex Gordon at the top.
Gordon shakes slump with clear head, positive outlook
MINNEAPOLIS -- Alex Gordon seems to have awakened from his June swoon. After hitting .329 through May, Gordon went through the first 18 games of June with a .149 (10-for-67) mark with just two doubles and five RBIs.
What did the Royals' left fielder do about that?
"Just not pay attention to it," Gordon said. "You can really get pretty deep with it and try really hard to get out of it and that usually just makes it worse. Just grinding away, keep putting in your work and stay positive. With a game like baseball, you're going to fail a lot of the time, so the best thing you can do is just go out there with a clear head and a positive attitude and know that, in your mind, you're going to get out of it. That's how I approach it."
Saturday against the White Sox, Gordon got a day off except for a last-inning pinch-hit appearance. Apparently refreshed, in the next three games he went 6-for-13 with a homer and four RBIs, including the game-winning single in the 10-inning, 4-3 win on Wednesday night over the Braves.
A left-handed batter, Gordon's two singles in that game were to left field (the home run went to right), but there's no conscious effort on his part to go to the opposite field while he's slumping.
"Not really. If a pitcher is going to pitch you outside, obviously that's your approach, to try to go away," Gordon said. "But I just try to hit the ball where it's pitched and try to drive the ball, which I really think I haven't been doing too much this year, so I'm trying to get back to that. Obviously trying to get on base as a leadoff hitter, but also trying to drive the ball."
Gordon has seven home runs this year, half his total in 2012, and that's the most on a club that through Wednesday had just 42 -- lowest total in the Majors (Baltimore was first with 108). Obviously home runs are not the Royals' thing.
"Yes, we'd like to hit more home runs. I'm not making excuses, but our ballpark is not meant to hit home runs in. Like two days ago, I hit a ball that was gone, but it went to the warning track," he said. "With our ballpark, it's typical to hit line drives into the gap and let the home runs just turn into home runs.
"It's a different approach at Kauffman Stadium. We want to hit more home runs, but it'll come. [Eric] Hosmer is starting to heat up and driving the ball really well and Moose [Mike Moustakas] is starting to hit the ball really good, so I feel like the home runs are going to come. We can't really force it."
The season-long lament by the Royals is that their offense really hasn't kicked in yet to fully complement the strong pitching. The Royals lead the American League a 3.51 ERA, but are third to last in runs scored with 292.
"We have a pretty decent record and I feel like our offense hasn't really played well at all so, hopefully, that's a good sign," Gordon said.
Lough, Rodriguez move past baserunning miscue
MINNEAPOLIS -- David Lough and Royals third-base coach Eddie Rodriguez obviously were in perfect sync when Lough charged home from second base with the winning run in Wednesday night's 10-inning, 4-3 win over the Braves.
They were involved in a baserunning miscue last week at Cleveland when Rodriguez stopped Lough, who got caught in a rundown that scuttled a potential ninth-inning rally.
"We talked about it," Lough said. "We don't want that to ever happen again."
This time, Alex Gordon's hit to left field was soft enough to give Lough ample time to score.
"Coming around third, he was waving me all the way," Lough said. "I don't think it was one of those very hard-hit balls where there was going to be a play at the plate. I definitely didn't hesitate, I saw him and it was good."
At Cleveland, Lough took blame for the mistake right after the game and Rodriguez did the same the next day.
"I think it's 100 percent my fault, he thinks it's 100 percent his fault, but we had a mutual agreement -- we'll meet in the middle together," Lough said.
Paulino to rejoin Double-A club, pitch Sunday
MINNEAPOLIS -- Right-handed pitcher Felipe Paulino accompanied the Royals to Minnesota, but he'll be leaving the team to rejoin Double-A Northwest Arkansas and pitch on Sunday night against Corpus Christi.
That will mark the resumption of his Minor League rehabilitation assignment, halted by back stiffness. He pitched one game previously, throwing five shutout innings. Paulino underwent Tommy John surgery last July 3.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.