Wade Davis will pitch with a heavy heart on Monday, as he faces the Marlins after returning from family emergency leave following the death of his stepbrother.
Royals manager Ned Yost said the club welcomed Davis back with open arms.
"It's good to have Wade back; he's in good spirits," Yost said. "He missed everybody, and everybody missed him. It's good to get him back."
Davis faces the difficult task of shifting his mind back to the diamond, where Kansas City is in the thick of a postseason race. The Royals are 4 1/2 games behind the A's for the second spot in the American League Wild Card standings behind the Rays.
An 18-5 record since the All-Star break and seven straight series victories have catapulted Kansas City into contention for its first postseason berth since 1985. The Royals are 39-24 since ending a 5-20 May eight games under .500.
"There was no change in attitude," Yost said. "We were grinding harder in May. Things are going good for us, right now. But there's been no change in attitude, no change in work ethic. There's been no change in anything.
"At that time, we were kind of grinding and things weren't working out for us. We were inconsistent offensively. Now, we're a little bit more consistent offensively, and we have a lot more confidence in ourselves."
The latest obstacle in Kansas City's way is Miami, another club that has played much better since May ended. After a 13-41 start, the Marlins are 31-31 since May 31.
The Royals face a tough foe in the Fish, who snapped the Braves' 14-game winning streak on Saturday. Miami may own one of the worst records in the Majors, but the club has not flinched in recent contests against National League leaders Atlanta and Pittsburgh.
Even if Kansas City falls short in its bid for the postseason, Yost emphasized that growing into a contender is a process. He likes the direction the Royals are taking.
"[Building a winning club is] tough," Yost said. "You've got to compete every day at this level. But when you get enough talent at the big league level, and then it gets experience on its side, you're going to be in pretty good shape. That's kind of the beginning of what we're seeing now."
Marlins: Koehler aiming for consistency
• Tom Koehler returned to Miami's starting rotation on July 22, after a short stint at Triple-A New Orleans. In four starts since his return, Koehler has shown promise, with two wins and a 3.52 ERA. He went down to the Minors on July 4 with a 1-5 record and a 4.70 ERA in 10 starts and 16 total appearances.
After giving up only a solo home run to Pirates All-Star Andrew McCutchen through the first four innings of his most recent start, Koehler surrendered a 2-1 Marlins lead with two wild pitches in the fifth -- his final inning.
"I think of that fifth, it was just kind of a product of trying to do too much," said Koehler. "I give up that leadoff hit on a good quality fastball in. Instead of just pitching and attacking the way I did the rest of the day, I was trying to make that perfect pitch.
"I was trying to get that ground-ball double play, and trying to get us back into the dugout as fast as possible. That was on me, not staying within myself and trying to execute every pitch."
"He got a little excited, a little up in the zone, and tried to overpower guys," said Miami manager Mike Redmond. "It's a learning experience for him, I think. [He needs to] control his emotions in big situations. We had some trips to the mound there. We couldn't get on the same page. Maybe we showed some of our youth."
Royals: Perez starts in return from concussion
• Catcher Salvador Perez went 1-for-3 with a walk on Sunday in his first game back since he was reinstated from the seven-day concussion disabled list. His replacement, Brett Hayes, was designated for assignment in a corresponding move.
• Infielder Irving Falu was recalled from Triple-A Omaha to replace Miguel Tejada, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right calf strain. Falu did not play in his first day with the club.
• Kansas City closer Greg Holland recorded his 25th straight save in Sunday's win against Boston. His streak is second behind Joakim Soria's franchise record of 36 in 2010.
• Miami's Justin Ruggiano is hitless in his past 42 at-bats, after grounding out to second in a pinch-hit appearance on Sunday.
Ruggiano's hitless streak is the worst in franchise history, and the longest since St. Louis pitcher Lance Lynn endured an 0-for-43 slump in 2012.
• Steve Cishek's save in Saturday's win against the Braves was his first since Aug. 1. The closer's limited work was due largely to Miami's six-game losing streak.
Cishek said during long absences between outings, the best approach is to simulate game situations during throwing sessions.
"It's different being out there in a game. But you can make it as game-like a situation, if you imagine attacking hitters and setting up hitters," Cishek said. "That's the only thing you can really do if you haven't pitched in a while."
Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.