OAKLAND -- Outfielder Bubba Starling, the Royals' No. 1 Draft choice in 2011 and top prospect, underwent Lasik eye surgery on Thursday in Kansas City and is expected to return playing almost immediately.
Starling underwent the laser procedure after he complained of not being able to see the ball well during night games, according to J.J. Picollo, the Royals' assistant general manager of scouting and player development.
In 35 games for the Class A Lexington Legends, Starling was batting .213 with four home runs and 17 RBIs. He had struck out 41 times in 127 at-bats.
"It's amazing how much technology has changed even in the last couple of years. There's a decent chance he might even be in the lineup [Saturday] night," Picollo said. "We'll see how he feels. We're not going to rush to get him in but if he's feeling good, there's a decent chance he'll play. Where a couple years ago, we felt it was at least seven days and maybe even up to 14."
Picollo said a change in Starling's vision was noticed from last year to this year. In the last few weeks, he had complained of dry eyes and tried drops but the problems persisted.
"There was a significant split in his numbers from night games to day games," Picollo said. "We think it's something that's going to benefit him and he was pretty happy to get something done."
This is Starling's second pro season. From Gardner, Kan., near Kansas City, he debuted with a .275 average, 10 home runs and 33 RBIs in 200 at-bats last year with the Rookie club at Burlington, N.C. But the right-handed slugger was struggling early this season.
"It becomes a little bit of a mental thing, like you're battling something else, and this will clear his mind and I think he'll see a definite difference when he gets in and takes some batting practice," Picollo said. "That's pretty much the feedback we've gotten from other players -- it's like the difference of night and day, no pun intended, but they say it's a major difference."
Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer underwent successful Lasik surgery early in his Minor League career as well.
Lough called up, makes quick impact with Royals
OAKLAND -- There was no delay in getting David Lough right into the Royals' lineup when he reported on Friday.
Called up to replace injured outfielder Jarrod Dyson, Lough was playing right field and leading off against the Oakland A's. It was a hurry-up trip from Omaha, where he was playing for the Royals' Pacific Coast League club. For a while on Thursday, Lough wasn't sure he was heading for the West Coast when he got a call from Storm Chasers manager Mike Jirschele.
"It wasn't for sure, it wasn't 100 percent at first. He called me and told me to pack my bags up, get ready, come to the field," Lough said.
Then word came that Dyson's sprained right ankle was sorer and Jirschele was back on the phone.
"He called me back a couple of hours later with the comfirmation that I was going up," Lough said. "I flew out at 5 o'clock and didn't get in until about 2 a.m."
Lough had a terrific spring camp with the Royals. Of players who were in five or more games, he was the team's top hitter with a .455 (20-for-44) average. He had six doubles, one triple and five RBIs. But the Royals went with Dyson as their fourth outfielder.
"Tough cut," manager Ned Yost said. "He had a great spring and went down and did what you ask all young guys that have good springs to do -- he continued it."
Lough was leading the Storm Chasers with a .340 average and was batting first in the lineup.
"Things lately have been going super-well for me lately," he said. "The first week I struggled down there and I just tried to get back to what I was doing in Spring Training, trying to stay consistent and obviously the weather doesn't help you out at all. For a while, it was pretty bad."
Despite the weather, Lough stayed with his plan.
"Just trying to stay consistent, stay in good counts. I think that's most important for me: Be able to get a good pitch and be able to drive the ball," he said.
Rated 20th by MLB.com among the Royals' top prospects, Lough got his first taste of the Major Leagues as a September callup last year.
"I felt confident going into Spring Training this year. Getting the call up last year and getting your feet wet I think just makes it easier," Lough said. "Getting sent down -- I don't think anybody likes to get sent down or anything like that. You also don't want to see anybody get hurt, but I'm going to fill that role that Dyson had and try to help this team win games."
Although Lough was in right field on Friday night, he had played mostly left field for Omaha.
"I did play center. I was kind of flip-flopping, playing two games in left, one game in center. But mostly left field," he said.
Yost decided to use Lough, a left-handed hitter like Dyson, immediately with right-hander Jarrod Parker starting for the A's.
"I know with the lefty [Tommy Milone] going tomorrow, he wouldn't play," Yost said. "I just didn't want him sitting here for two days until I gave him the opportunity to play. He's been hot, he's been doing well, hitting .349 in the leadoff spot in Triple-A and I wanted to get him in and get him involved."
Lough certainly got involved, going 2-for-4 and throwing out a runner at second base. His double drove in the Royals' only run in their 2-1 loss.
Boyer leaving Royals' system, seeks contract in Japan
OAKLAND -- Right-hander Blaine Boyer has exercised an out clause in his contract and has been released by the Royals' Triple-A club at Omaha so he could pursue a contract with a Japanese team.
Boyer, pitching in relief, had an 0-1 record and a 3.00 ERA in 13 games for the Storm Chasers. In 15 innings, he had 18 strikeouts against three walks.
A veteran of 233 big league games with Atlanta, Arizona, St. Louis and the New York Mets, Boyer, 31, had battled arm problems in recent seasons. Signed as a Minor League free agent, he was in the Royals' Major League camp this year. According to reports, he had regained the velocity on his fastball and was pitching well for Omaha.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.