KC Royals News: The rough road ahead, Hunter Dozier, awards

An early-week Kansas City news roundup.
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The American League Central Division matchup KC Royals fans have eagerly anticipated for weeks is finally here. The second-place Royals, fresh off Sunday's exciting and critical victory over San Diego and Monday's well-deserved day off, open a three-game series with first-place Cleveland tonight.

Game time is set for 5:40 p.m. CDT at Cleveland's Progressive Field. Seth Lugo, the league leader in wins with nine and owner of a league-best 1.72 ERA, gets the start for Kansas City, while Triston McKenzie, 2-3, 3.77, goes for the Guardians.

But don't think the schedule gets much easier after these first three meetings of the Central frontrunners. It doesn't — on tap when the club moves on from Cleveland are a trio of series with teams who, at least for now, occupy first place in their own divisions.

Up first after the Guardians are the Mariners, who the Royals host for three games beginning Friday evening. Seattle, 34-27, leads the AL West. Then come the Yankees for four games at Kauffman Stadium; at 42-19, the AL East leaders are tied for the best record in the majors. The Royals' rough road ends on the road with three games against the National League West-leading Dodgers June 14-16.

To say the next 13 games are critical for Kansas City understates the situation.

Two Royals grab monthly awards

To probably no one's surprise, Bobby Witt Jr. and Seth Lugo have won Kansas City's "Of the Month" awards for May. Shortstop Witt is Player of the Month and starter Seth Lugo is Pitcher of the Month.

Playing in all 28 May games, Witt hit .315 average to match his March-April clip, and he homered five times, drove in 25 runs, and posted an excellent .373 OBP. He also had seven doubles, three triples, and seven steals. For the season, he's slashing .313/.367/.539 and is tied for the AL lead in hits with 76.

Lugo went 5-0, 1.79, with a 0.917 WHIP and 43 strikeouts in 40.1 innings. All his starts were quality. As mentioned, Lugo's nine wins and 1.72 ERA top the AL.

Is a former Royal's career ending?

Hunter Dozier, who Kansas City designated for assignment early last season and then released, is back on baseball's unemployment line. Signed to a minor league deal by the Angels in January, Dozier began the season at LA's Salt Lake Triple-A affiliate; the Bees released him Monday.

In his first minor league action since 2021, Dozier was slashing .222/.268/.394 with seven homers and 38 RBI in 48 games. His best season in Kansas City was 2019 when he hit .279 with 26 homers and 84 RBI, and tied teammates Adalberto Mondesí and Whit Merrifield for the big league lead in triples with 10.

Kansas City is the only major league club Dozier has seen action with.

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