CHICAGO -- Jeff Francoeur got on the Royals' late bus -- the 10 a.m.'er, -- to the ballpark on Sunday. Most of the other players had taken the early bus, but Frenchy was feeling laid back and relaxed. He was, as he put it, part of "the shutdown group."
The late-season shutdowns, which began earlier this month with starting pitchers Danny Duffy, Jeff Francis and Luke Hochevar -- and unofficially also includes closer Joakim Soria, were extended into the outfield, as the Royals faced their last four games of the season.
Right fielder Francoeur, who hammered his 20th home run on Friday night, and left fielder Alex Gordon, just getting over the flu, were not in Sunday's lineup against the White Sox. Manager Ned Yost said they probably wouldn't play in the final three-game series at Minnesota.
Center fielder Melky Cabrera, who shifted to left for three games in Gordon's absence, is slated to join them on the bench once he reaches the 200-hit level.
"We just wanted to see the two young outfielders," Yost said, referring to Lorenzo Cain and Jarrod Dyson, who were in Sunday's lineup. When Cabrera sits, Mitch Maier will join them.
Besides, the amazing outfield trio earned a few days off, after rarely missing games all season. They were productive -- each had 87 RBIs as of Sunday and they had combined for 279 runs, 61 homers, 13 triples and 136 doubles -- and were the first outfield in Major League history to each have 40 or more doubles. Defensively, the three of them had a whopping 49 assists.
"I [went] into the season expecting everybody to be good, but I never expected all three of them to be as healthy as they've been," Yost said. "They've been historically good. They've done things that a group of three guys haven't done, ever. They've been just fantastic."
Yost plans to ride Perez's hot bat
CHICAGO -- Rookie catcher Salvador Perez just might be behind the plate in all of the Royals' remaining games.
"I'm going to stay with Sal, the way he's swinging the bat right now," manager Ned Yost said.
Through Saturday night, Perez was batting .336 in 35 games, and had hit in 14 of his last 15 games (.417) and had nine RBIs in eight games.
That will limit playing time for newly arrived Manny Pina and backup Brayan Pena.
Yost said that results by the recent callups won't be weighed too heavily.
"Nothing's do or die," Yost said. "These kids are coming to Spring Training next year with the opportunity to make the team. It doesn't matter how good or how bad they do at this time."
What is more valuable, according to Yost, is learning the personality and makeup of the young players.
"That's what this is all about," Yost said. "This is about learning your players, personally and professionally. This is not just about what can you do for me on the field. You have to learn them, start to develop a professional relationship with them. Understand who they are, what they're about, because everybody's different. You push everybody's buttons a little bit different. You don't treat everybody the same, and you've got to know the person."
If a hitter goes 0-for-3 or 3-for-3, for example, Yost wants to know how he handles both success and failure.
"It helps to a great degree," he said. "You have to be able to understand a person to get them to perform."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.