Inside Ned Yost’s head

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Have you ever wondered what Royals manager Ned Yost is thinking when he puts in pinch-runner after pinch-runner, rather than maybe hitting for the guy who was arguably the league’s worst hitter last year?

Well, you’re in luck.

According to the Kansas City Star’s Andy McCullough, here is what Yost replied when asked why he didn’t hit for Alcides Escobar with the tying run on second and two outs in the eighth inning in Wednesday’s game against the Tigers.

“Until these guys show trends, that’s when you start doing it,” Yost said. “It’s way too early to start getting in guys’ heads about pinch-hitting. Especially when you’re struggling as a team offensively. We were going to pinch-hit for Escobar in the ninth inning, if it came up that the score was still 1-0, a chance to hit a home run. But not in that situation.”

So, remember, it’s way too early to get into the head of a bad hitter by hitting for him in the eighth inning of game two, but it’s just fine to do it in the ninth inning of game two, except by that time you’ve run through your entire bench anyway because you’ve pinch-ran for Salvador Perez, Omar Infante and Billy Butler.

Pirates activate Starling Marte

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Pirates outfielder Starling Marte is back in the lineup after the team reinstated him from the 10-day disabled list on Saturday. Marte served the bare minimum on the DL after making a rapid recovery from the right oblique strain that sidelined him several weeks ago.

Prior to landing on the disabled list, the 29-year-old outfielder was off to a strong start. He slashed a robust .308/.366/.503 with six home runs, 10 stolen bases and an .869 OPS in 175 plate appearances with the team. This is the first time he’s dealt with an oblique issue, and the first DL stint he’s served since he suffered a bout of back tightness in 2016. While he has yet to prove he can bounce back to his pre-injury production levels, his quick recovery bodes well for a successful return to major-league play.

In a corresponding move, outfielder Jose Osuna was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. The move came as somewhat of a surprise, given that the Pirates elected to retain top prospect outfielder Austin Meadows rather than the more established Osuna. Meadows was recalled from Triple-A in the wake of Marte’s injury and has only played seven games at the major league level so far, but he’s already made a strong impression: he went 13-for-29 with three home runs, two stolen bases and five RBI since his call-up on May 18.