KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Yonder Alonso has been given a long leash, keeping his place in the lineup — mostly in the cleanup and fifth spots — despite hitting below .200 all season long. But on Saturday, manager Rick Renteria reeled him in and sat him down.
“Let’s see if we can give him a mental respite, so to speak,” Renteria said before the Sox’ 2-0 victory over the Royals at Kauffman Stadium Saturday. “He didn’t ask for it. But I think sometimes you have to look at your guys and make a decision, and right now I’m going to let Jose [Rondon] take that slot.”
Rondon, a utility infielder batting .212/.256/.318 was a somewhat curious alternative at designated hitter, especially batting fifth.
“Kind of a high slot? OK, let’s look at everybody,” Renteria said when asked to explain.
Renteria said it’s too soon to “disrupt” and move rookie Eloy Jimenez (.227/.278/.328) from sixth and Tim Anderson (.321/.352/.493) “has been comfortable in the seventh hole,” his rationale for leaving the AL Player of the Month for April in the bottom third of the lineup.
“Jose knows the role, won’t try to do too much,’’ he said. “I expect we’ll have a positive return on his hitting there, just from his experience and being able to handle the bat.”
As it was, the lineup worked out. Rondon singled to left against Brad Keller and Jimenez followed with an opposite-field homer in the second inning to give right-hander Lucas Giolito all the offense he needed.
Alsono, acquired in an offseason trade, was 0-for-3 in the Sox’ 6-4 loss to the Royals Friday.
“Right now we’re not getting the offense everybody was hoping to get,” Renteria said. “Is it still in there? I hope it is. Think it is. But sometimes I have to let them take a step back and see if they regroup and where we go from here.”
Bring on the boos
Tim Anderson got booed Friday and Saturday by Royals fans but didn’t seem to mind.
“Yeah, that’s cool, man. I must be doing something right,” said Anderson, the man in the middle of a bat-flip flat that heightened the rivalry between the Sox and Royals. Anderson also said last week that he doesn’t like the Royals, which made him no friends here.
He downplayed it all Saturday.
“Just another game we’re going to try to win,” he said. “Same game, just different stadium. I’m not worried about what’s going on around. I’m just worried about what I can control and that’s playing hard and trying to get a win.”
Bummer getting it done
Left-hander Aaron Bummer lowered his ERA to 0.52 ERA by getting Alex Gordon on a ground ball for the last out in the eighth inning. Bummer has 16 strikeouts and four walks in 15 appearances covering 17 1⁄3 innings. The Sox viewed the 25-year-old as a component of the rebuild even while he was pitching to a more ordinary 4.26 ERA last season.
So far, it’s all clicking for the former 19th-round draft pick.
“I have my keys, my mental cues to get me back on the mound mechanically,” he said. “In years past I didn’t, and when things went sideways they went really bad and I couldn’t correct it. Now I’m able to take a breath, figure it out and get back locked back in.”
Lopez on Sunday
Reynaldo Lopez starts the series finale Sunday. Lopez is struggling to locate his offspeed pitches, is 0-2 with a 12.83 ERA over his last three starts and has failed to hold leads in each one.
“We’re just trying to get him to not think too much, trust his stuff,” Renteria said. “Hopefully we’ll see a nice bounce back from him tomorrow.”