KANSAS CITY -- Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain said he was going about 40 percent in his straight-line running and agility drills on Friday and is feeling much better.
Cain was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Aug. 10 with an oblique strain he sustained in batting practice the day before. He's eligible to return on Sunday, but said there is no official timeline for his return, though he is hoping to be back by the end of the month.
"I'm definitely improving," Cain said. "I didn't feel any pain doing drills and dry swings. It definitely felt great."
Closer Greg Holland, who was hit with a comebacker in the 10th inning on Thursday, had a thigh bruise, but was available Friday night.
Mike Moustakas was absent from the lineup on Friday, but Yost said it was just an off-day for his third baseman who battled a calf strain the last two weeks.
Yost holds rare closed-door meeting before opener
KANSAS CITY -- Stung by a stretch of eight losses in 10 games, manager Ned Yost met with his players before the Royals' clubhouse opened to reporters on Friday afternoon, a rarity for Yost.
"That's the last one, too. That's it," Yost said.
Yost's Royals were rolling after the All-Star break with a 19-5 surge before the recent falloff. Yost said he hasn't seen a dip in energy.
"They're trying. It's just time to quit talking about all that," Yost said. "We need to do better. We're, what, 11-for-85 with runners in scoring position? It's just time to produce. Forget all the reasons, forget all the excuses, it's time to produce. You're either going to or you're not going to."
That .129 average with runners in scoring position is his main concern.
"That won't cut it," Yost said. "Defensively, I'm very pleased. With the starting pitching and bullpen, I've been very pleased. It's just with our approaches at times in crucial situations in the point of the game that can make the difference between a win or a loss. Those are some of the things we're trying to stay focused on and trying to get ironed out.
"We're not getting the job done. We've been making excuses all year long of why we're doing this or why we're doing that, we've got 36 games left and it boils down to we're doing it or we're not. It's as simple as that."
DC baseball returns to KC for first time since 1971
KANSAS CITY -- Friday's game against the Nationals marked the first time that a Washington-based Major League Baseball club has played in Kansas City since Aug. 22, 1971.
That was the last game played here by Washington before the Senators moved and became the Texas Rangers. In that game, left-hander Paul Splittorff -- with one-out relief help from Tom Burgmeier -- beat the Senators, 4-1, giving up a solo homer to Jeff Burroughs at old Municipal Stadium.
Left fielder Lou Piniella, shortstop Fred Patek and third baseman Paul Schaal each had two hits for the Royals. For the Senators, Frank Howard, who would hit 382 home runs in his career, played first base. The managers were both Hall of Famers as players -- the Royals' Bob Lemon and the Senators' Ted Williams.
Gordon earns Royals Heart and Hustle Award
KANSAS CITY -- Before Friday night's game against the Nationals, Alex Gordon was presented with the Royals Heart and Hustle Award by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association.
The award, which is voted on by alumni, honors players who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and embody the values, spirit and traditions of the game. Gordon was honored for his work with the Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, which raises funds for cancer research.
A winner is selected from each team and then fans, alumni and active players will select a final winner from the 30 selections. The final winner will be announced on Tuesday, Nov. 19, at the 14th Annual Legends for Youth dinner in New York City.
Dyson accepts challenge to race Chiefs' Charles
KANSAS CITY -- Center fielder Jarrod Dyson is not the kind of man to step down from a challenge. When he heard that Chiefs general manager John Dorsey wanted to pit him and running back Jamaal Charles against each other in a friendly race, Dyson gladly accepted.
"I didn't say that by any chance, but I'm not afraid to race nobody," Dyson said. "I will tell you that straight up, in front of the cameras."
Dyson said he'd be most dangerous in a 40-yard dash. That could be a tall task against Charles, who clocked in at 4.38 seconds in the 40 at the 2008 NFL Combine.
"I don't care if you sprint or whatever, you aren't leaving Mr. Zoombiya," said Dyson, referencing his Twitter handle. "If you put me in a 40-yard dash, you're going to have to come with it."
In the spirit of competition, Dyson said that if he won, he would offer a longer distance rematch, which might suit Charles better. The competition will have to wait though as Charles battles a foot injury and the Chiefs are in the middle of preseason play.
Getz misses chance to see good friend DeJesus
KANSAS CITY -- Royals second baseman Chris Getz was looking forward to seeing his winter time workout pal, outfielder David DeJesus, in town with his new team, the Washington Nationals.
The Cubs traded DeJesus, who was with the Royals from 2003 to 2010, to the Nationals on Monday. Whoops. Before Friday night's game, DeJesus was moved to Tampa Bay, traded to the Rays for a player to be named or cash considerations.
Getz and DeJesus sometimes work out together in Chicago during the offseason and their wives, Nicky and Kim respectively, are good friends.
"We'll just have to wait a few more days," Getz said.
Indeed, DeJesus will be in Kansas City next Monday for the afternoon makeup game against the Rays. If he's not traded again.
Royals fix home-plate signage issue
KANSAS CITY -- After three days of waiting, the troublesome signage behind home plate at Kaufman Stadium has been replaced.
Todd Burrow, director of ballpark engineering and maintenance, said the Royals received and installed the new mesh covering Friday afternoon in hopes of ending the odd disappearing ball act that occurred on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
"We're back to normal, so we shouldn't have any issues," Burrow said.
On Tuesday, a passed ball bounced up behind the sign and a run scored on the dead ball. The sign was repaired the next morning, but that night, a wild pitch hopped up into the same spot. On Thursday, a new sign was made from materials they had on-site, but Burrow said that was just a quick fix and they had been waiting for this shipment since they ordered it after the game on Tuesday. The new sign is much thicker and was tested thoroughly before Friday night's game.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. Kathleen Gier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.