Last night, Lorenzo Cain dove for a ball in the bottom of the tenth inning and stayed down after the play, then left the game.
Today, the Royals learned the outlook and it’s not very good. Cain has a hamstring strain in his right leg.
Cain opened the year with a clear shot at the everyday center fielder job after Melky Cabrera was traded and showed great defense early in the year, but on a fateful catch in Oakland, he ended up with a hip flexor that kept him out until mid-July. After he came back, he hit well enough to bat third or leadoff a handful of times and his line today is .266/.316/.419 with seven homers and ten steals in ten attempts. Not bad for 61 games, especially considering his defensive value and athleticism.
To fill his spot on the roster, the Royals brought back Jason Bourgeois from Omaha, and Bob Dutton reports that the plan is to platoon he and David Lough while Alex Gordon and Jeff Francoeur man the corners. Jarrod Dyson is limited to pinch-hitting and -running duties due to a lat injury that prevents him from throwing (and he didn’t have much of an arm to begin with).
At this stage, the Royals probably have to think about a Cain/Lough platoon going into next year (unless Wil Myers ends up in center with Francoeur staying in right and Cain coming off the bench). While Cain is a great athlete, he’s also been prone to injury. Not only was there his hip injury earlier in the year, but he had a groin injury starting off 2011 with Omaha and had knee troubles in 2009 after attempting a diving play.
Cain makes a lot of plays and his speed and occasional power are an asset to a lineup, but they’re only good if he can get out on the field. The Royals may try to spell him more often the rest of this season (if he plays again this season at all) and next year. He hustles and makes a lot of plays.
Sometimes, though, the kamikaze approach leads to injury (however, incidentally, Cain didn’t miss any time after making the above catch in 2010 for Milwaukee).
What’s probably best for him this year is to keep him on the shelf and let him get a full recovery.