Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Dini makes Royals debut memorable with 1st hit

Catcher promoted from Triple-A with Gallagher landing on IL
@FlannyMLB
August 8, 2019

DETROIT -- The list of Royals players making their Major League debuts continues to grow. Triple-A Omaha catcher Nick Dini, 26, was promoted on Thursday, and he immediately was in the starting lineup for the series opener against the Tigers at Comerica Park. Dini, who is is the 10th Royals

DETROIT -- The list of Royals players making their Major League debuts continues to grow.

Triple-A Omaha catcher Nick Dini, 26, was promoted on Thursday, and he immediately was in the starting lineup for the series opener against the Tigers at Comerica Park. Dini, who is is the 10th Royals player to make his MLB debut this season, got his first career hit in the sixth inning, a single to left, in the 10-8 walk-off loss.

Dini takes the roster spot of catcher Cam Gallagher, who was placed on the 10-day injured list because of a strained left oblique sustained while taking batting practice on Wednesday.

Naturally, it was a whirlwind 24 hours for Dini, a 14th-round pick by the Royals in the 2015 MLB Draft.

“Heard about it [Wednesday] and was told to keep it under wraps until it became official,” Dini said. “Then it just happened so fast. When I got here [to Detroit] it finally sank in, especially when I saw the ballpark. When I first pulled up here it definitely hit me. Then, you get in the clubhouse and see all the guys, and it really hit me.”

Dini has been dealing with his own injury of late -- a broken nose sustained on a hit-by-pitch two weeks ago.

“I missed about a week and a half,” he said. “Came back the last week and played about three games. I’m fine now.”

Royals manager Ned Yost had been protecting catcher Meibrys Viloria, a left-handed hitter and ranked as the club's No. 24 prospect by MLB Pipeline, against lefties while Gallagher was healthy. That plan will change.

“We’ll probably play Viloria a little more than [Dini],” Yost said. “It won’t be a strict platoon. If a lefty starts [for the Tigers on Friday], I’ll go with Viloria. I’ll play Viloria against lefties.”

Yost hasn’t seen Dini play much, other than on occasion during Spring Training the past two seasons.

“My impressions of him were he’s an offensive guy,” Yost said. “Probably hit better than he caught. But I thought he caught fine in Spring Training.”

In fact, Dini was enjoying a breakout season offensively at Omaha with 13 home runs, 36 RBIs and a .934 OPS. He credits an offseason adjustment to his swing path for the success.

“I made a point to make some changes in my swing,” Dini said. “I got back with some people back home and made those adjustments, and it allowed some more positive results. I’m just trying to put the ball in the air more. That’s the trend, as you know, in baseball. I’ve been trying to use my legs as leverage more. I’m basically trying to make the outfielders field the ball when I hit.”

But Dini’s first order of business will be getting familiar with the rotation.

“I’ve caught most of the bullpen guys in side sessions during Spring Training,” he said. “I’ve basically caught everyone in the bullpen in Triple-A except Ian [Kennedy]. I’ve caught everyone else. They’ll be an adjustment period with the starters, of course. But I’m looking forward to it.”

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB.