KANSAS CITY -- So why, with the Royals behind, 4-3, with two outs and nobody on in the seventh inning, was Eric Hosmer bunting?
This happened in Thursday night's game against Toronto. Hosmer bunted back to the pitcher, an easy out. There were two reasons for the attempt: The shift and pitcher Aaron Loup, who had just entered the game.
Loup is a sidewheeling left-handed pitcher and Hosmer, a left-handed hitter, was a very unlikely candidate to hit a game-tying home run against him. So Hosmer, on his own, tried a bunt.
"He's tough on lefties, obviously, because he comes from down low so I figured that's a better matchup for Billy [Butler]," Hosmer said. "Try and get the bunt down against the shift, get on first and, if Billy gets one down the line or in the gap, we've got a good chance to score and tie the game up."
The shift to the right side of the infield is being used more and more this year against left-handed hitters such as Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Alex Gordon.
"There are more shifts throughout the league everywhere now. Everybody's shifting," manager Ned Yost said.
One way to stop the shift is to start dropping bunts down the wide-open third-base side. Do that enough and managers start thinking twice about the shift.
"We just tell 'em to push a bunt over that way," Yost said. "They're shifting our left-handed hitters and the whole left side of the infield is absolutely open. You don't have to make a perfect bunt. You just turn around and, boom, push a bunt. The only thing you have to do is get it past the pitcher and it's a free hit."
The kicker, of course, is that some power pull hitters are willing to try the bunt and some aren't.
"We identify who bunts and who doesn't against the shift," Yost said. "For the guys that will bunt, we'll keep our third baseman over to cover the bunt until there's one strike, then we'll move him over."
Hosmer, obviously, is willing to try the bunt from time to time.
"I work on it in batting practice and when the situation is right, they're giving you a free baserunner so you might as well take it," Hosmer said. "That was my whole thing on that -- just get on, get a good secondary [lead] and wait for Billy to put one down the line or in the gap and tie the game up."
The increasing use of extreme defensive shifts has grown with the vast amount of information gleaned from video and statistical analyses. Royals infield coach Dale Sveum invests hours and hours on developing defenses against hitters as does outfield coach Rusty Kuntz. The information banks are overflowing and baseball folks are soaking it up.
"Everybody's getting smarter but managers," Yost said dryly.
Salvy says he's fine despite bruised left shin
KANSAS CITY -- Catcher Salvador Perez left Friday night's game with his shin barking, but he insisted that he'll play on Saturday night against the Tigers.
"For sure, 100 percent," Perez said.
Perez's left shin was bruised when he fouled off a pitch in the seventh inning against Tigers starter Rick Porcello. He stayed in the game and flied out to right, but he was replaced for the eighth inning by Brett Hayes.
"I'm pretty good," Perez said at his locker after the 8-2 loss.
Perez wears a guard on that leg and has been hit there before.
"I think it's the same spot, yeah," he said.
Infante, Shields earn KC awards for April
KANSAS CITY -- Second baseman Omar Infante and right-hander James Shields were named the Royals' Player and Pitcher of the Month for April.
Infante finished the month with 19 RBIs, highest ever by a Royals second baseman for the season's first month, surpassing 14 by Cookie Rojas in 1973 and Bip Roberts in '96.
Shields won his last three starts in April, all on the road. He also posted a 2.03 ERA, held opponents to a .196 average and had 41 strikeouts.
The top player is selected in a vote of media and fans, while the pitcher is picked by media only.
Brooks returns for second tour with Royals
KANSAS CITY -- Right-hander Aaron Brooks was back on Friday for his second stay with the Royals this season, still awaiting his Major League debut.
Brooks was put on the roster when left-hander Bruce Chen was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a bulging disc. Previously, Brooks was called up from Triple-A Omaha on April 5 to add pitching depth and stayed five days without getting in a game.
In four games (three starts) for the Storm Chasers, Brooks was 0-1 with a 4.80 ERA.
"He's been starting so he's stretched out fine, and he's going to be here in case we need length," manager Ned Yost said.
Brooks, 24, from Cal State-San Bernardino, split last season between Class A Advanced Wilmington and Double-A Northwest Arkansas, and was a combined 9-10 with a 4.28 ERA in 26 starts. In 160 innings, he had 110 strikeouts against just 22 walks.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.