DETROIT (AP) - When Ned Yost fills out a lineup card, he doesn't worry too much about how long a player has been in the major leagues.
``I think if you're a big leaguer, you're a big leaguer, and I don't try to protect guys in the big leagues,' the Kansas City manager said Sunday. ``I throw them right into the fire and let them go. They're big league players. They've earned their way here.'
The Royals have developed one of baseball's top farm systems, and they're trying to figure out the best way to break in some of their young players. Rookie first baseman Eric Hosmer has mostly hit sixth for Kansas City, but he was slated to bat fifth Sunday before the team's game against the Detroit Tigers was rained out.
``It's not like, 'OK, you've earned your way here, now I've got to protect you while you're here,'' Yost said. ``I don't do that. I don't do it for relievers, and I don't do it for position players.'
Detroit manager Jim Leyland took a similar approach Sunday, when he penciled Andy Dirks in to play left field. The 25-year-old was called up after Magglio Ordonez went on the disabled list Friday. He was slated to bat second - in front of the powerful trio of Brennan Boesch, Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez - for what would have been his major league debut.
``Put him out there and let him play,' Leyland said with a carefree tone. ``He got called up for a reason. He's doing well. He's going to get to play. I try to play everybody.'
Of course, Dirks will have to wait because of the rainout.
``That's part of the game,' he said. ``That's the way it goes sometimes. I'm not worried about it.'
The teams have a makeup game scheduled for Sept. 1 at 1:05 p.m. That was supposed to be an off day for both teams after playing three games against each other Aug. 29-31 in Detroit.
Sunday's game was called a couple hours before the first pitch, with the steady rain at Comerica Park showing no signs of letting up. Detroit won the first two games of this three-game series and has won seven straight overall.
Dirks was impressive at spring training and was one of the Tigers' last roster cuts. He then went to Triple-A Toledo and hit .328 in 34 games.
Ordonez went on the DL because of lingering problems with his surgically repaired right ankle, giving Dirks an opportunity. Dirks' preparation for Sunday's game was brief before the postponement became official.
``It's out of my control,' Dirks said. ``I was just planning on getting ready to play a game, and it's canceled, so wait for my next opportunity.'
Royals outfielder Jeff Francoeur made his debut in 2005. He hit seventh for Atlanta in his first game - and hit a three-run homer. Francoeur is hitting .295 with eight homers this season. He, Alex Gordon and Billy Butler have been productive in the middle of the order.
``You don't want to throw a guy into things if you don't have to,' Francoeur said. ``Especially our team here, we've got a lot of veteran guys - three or four guys that have played - so you're able to hit Hosmer sixth and just let him relax.'
Francoeur said he didn't worry too much about where he hit when he first came up - and that it should be even less of an issue for a player like Hosmer, who is in the American League, where the pitcher doesn't bat. In the NL, the No. 8 hitter might sometimes worry about not getting anything good to hit because the pitcher is up next.
``National League, you're hitting eighth, it can get a little tough,' Francoeur said. ``In the American League, it's nine straight hitters. I think in the American League, especially, it doesn't really matter.'
The Tigers and Royals both plan to push their starting rotations back a day, meaning Max Scherzer (6-0) will start for Detroit on Monday night against Toronto, and Kyle Davies (1-5) will take the mound for Kansas City against Cleveland.
NOTES: The Tigers haven't won eight straight games since April 29-May 8, 2007. ... The rainout gave the Royals a day off just as they were starting a stretch of 33 scheduled games in 34 days.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved