KANSAS CITY -- The streak is over.
Royals manager Ned Yost had hinted in recent weeks that he eventually would rest shortstop Alcides Escobar, and that day came Sunday. After 421 straight starts -- a franchise record and the longest active consecutive-games streak in the Major Leagues -- Escobar did not start against the Red Sox.
The streak started on Sept. 26, 2015.
Why did Yost pick Sunday as the day to end the streak?
"Because I decided today was the day," Yost said. "I just decided today was it. I don't have a 'scientifical' equation where I went out and looked at 19 different factors and looked at how the stars lined up with the moon.
"We talked about the streak coming to an end about a month ago. It's taken me this long to get him an off-day. But I wanted to see Raul Mondesi back to back at shortstop, and see Hunter Dozier at third and Abraham Almonte, who hasn't played in a while."
Yost said he informed Escobar on Saturday night.
"He was OK with it," Yost said. "He just said, 'Thank you.'"
Escobar seemed in a good mood Sunday morning when he entered the clubhouse.
"I was really proud of the streak," Escobar said. "It was 421 straight games and that is not easy.
"I understand the situation right now. The team is trying to look at different situations. But I'm happy to be here."
Hammel to bullpen, Smith to start
Struggling right-hander Jason Hammel will be taken out of the rotation and moved to the bullpen, Yost said. Right-hander Burch Smith will take Hammel's place and start on Wednesday in Minnesota.
Hammel gave up eight runs in two innings Friday, as his ERA ballooned to 6.16.
"I'm going to embrace it," Hammel said. "It's something I've done before. I haven't been getting outs. Individually and personally, it's a little slice of humble pie. But it's necessary to maybe right the ship.
"I've always been a team guy and egoless. I don't really take it as a shot at what I've done in this game. There's plenty of life left in this old arm."
Yost said Smith has more of a "starter's mentality" than a reliever's.
"It takes him a little longer to get warmed up," Yost said. "I think he's more suited as a starter."
Smith has not allowed a run in five straight outings.
Junis to DL
The Royals placed right-hander Jakob Junis on the disabled list prior to Sunday's game because of back tightness. Yost said Junis informed him of the issue on Saturday.
Junis was scheduled to start Sunday, with rookie right-hander Heath Fillmyer taking his place. The Royals also selected the contract of right-hander Glenn Sparkman from Triple-A Omaha.
Yost said Junis' injury was not serious, but that he likely wouldn't start again until after the All-Star break.