KANSAS CITY -- Eric Hosmer was back in the No. 3 slot in the Royals' batting order on Tuesday night for the second straight game as manager Ned Yost got his first baseman back where he envisions his long-term future.
Hosmer had been primarily in the No. 2 slot since June 5 while Yost waited for his bat to heat up. Shortstop Alcides Escobar has returned to the second spot where he'd been most of the season. Catcher Salvador Perez, who sat out on Sunday, was moved from No. 3 to No. 5 behind designated hitter Billy Butler.
"Hoz is starting to hit and I like Esky in the two, I think our lineup is best with him in the two," Yost said. "I needed to find a little more protection for Billy and Sal's the best case there. So that created a hole in the two and Esky's suited for it and he feels good there."
Hosmer -- in his third at-bat during Tuesday's 4-3 loss -- belted a two-run homer in the fifth inning off Braves starter Kris Medlen.
Paulino feeling better, close to game action
KANSAS CITY -- Royals right-hander Felipe Paulino threw a simulated game on Tuesday before batting practice as he recovers from a lower back strain. Paulino threw 65 pitches, including a couple to Hall of Famer and interim hitting coach George Brett, who had a hit.
"He gave me a hit," Paulino said. "He's in the Hall of Fame. It's great to face that guy."
Paulino is on the 60-day disabled list recovering from Tommy John surgery last season, but had a recent setback with the back strain. He was brought to Kansas City to have it checked out by the team physicians.
"His stuff was really good," manager Ned Yost said. "Inconsistent with command a little bit, but you look for stuff right now and his stuff was really good."
Paulino said both his arm and back were feeling good and is hoping to return to games this weekend. He is playing for Double-A Northwest Arkansas, where he made one start. Paulino went five innings, allowing two hits, zero runs, two walks and recording six strikeouts.
"All my stuff is ready, all I need is to just compete," Paulino said. "I need to throw in some game situations and test my arm."
Smith excited for relief role with Kansas City
KANSAS CITY -- Left-hander Will Smith is enjoying his new role as a reliever. Of course, it probably helps since that is what got him recalled from Triple-A Omaha on Tuesday.
"It feels good to get back here," Smith said. "I had to go down there and get some things straight to get back up here, so it feels good to be pitching good and get back up here."
Smith, a 23-year-old who was acquired from the Angels in 2010, started 10 games earlier in the Minor League season, but switched to the bullpen for his last seven games. He recorded his first professional save last Friday in Omaha's 7-6 victory against Albuquerque.
"It's fun, because I get to come in for one inning and pitch as hard as I can," Smith said. "I miss the routine part of the start and the preparing and all that stuff, so it is still a transition."
Smith -- who was recalled when reliever Kelvin Herrera was optioned to Omaha -- will join Tim Collins and Bruce Chen as lefty options in the 'pen.
"He's been throwing the ball extremely well down there and he's like Timmy, he's more than a situational lefty, guys that can get righties out, too," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "His stuff has jumped up since he's gone to the 'pen, and I'm anxious to see what he can provide."
Smith started one game for the Royals on April 28, allowing seven hits and six runs (four earned) with five strikeouts in four innings in a loss to the Indians. At Omaha, he was 4-3 as a starter with a 3.26 ERA and went 1-0 with a 0.84 ERA in his seven relief appearances, allowing six hits and one run in 10 2/3 innings.
"I'm not saying that long-term he's not going to go back to being a starter, but right now he's going to be a benefit to us out in the 'pen," Yost said.
Duffy picks up victory for Triple-A Omaha
KANSAS CITY -- Left-hander Danny Duffy made his latest and best start -- earning the victory for Triple-A Omaha on Tuesday after being reinstated from the 60-day disabled list earlier in the day.
Duffy, who is recovering from last year's Tommy John surgery, went five innings allowing two hits and no runs. He also issued one walk and recorded four strikeouts in the win. He threw 69 pitches, 42 for strikes.
Duffy started his rehab assignment with Double-A Northwest Arkansas, going 0-2 in three games with a 4.22 ERA, while allowing 12 hits and five runs in 10 2/3 innings. He was moved to Triple-A Omaha this month, where he had three starts with 13 runs allowed, eight walks and 10 strikeouts in 10 innings to go with an 11.70 ERA.
Cobb appreciates well wishes from Royals
KANSAS CITY -- When Rays right-hander Alex Cobb took a lined shot off his right ear on June 15 in a game against the Royals at Tropicana Field, he was rushed to a hospital but fortunately sustained only a mild concussion.
Among those visiting Cobb at the hospital that night were three Royals -- Eric Hosmer, who hit the ball, and former Tampa Bay teammates James Shields and Elliot Johnson.
Cobb still has occasional headaches and remains on the disabled list, but he returned to Tropicana Field for the first time since his injury on Monday.
"I was so out of it that night," Cobb said. "I was told there were a lot of people and the nurses had to stop letting people in, but it was great to see Shields and E.J. and Hosmer. That was a real class act. That was an awesome thing to do and most of the guys on our team came by. I'm very grateful to have a lot of friends and family helping me through this."
There is no timetable for Cobb's return to pitching.
Royals sign eighth-round Draft pick Stubbs
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals added one more Draft pick and two free agents to their list of signings on Tuesday.
Kansas City signed Cody Stubbs, a first baseman from North Carolina and the club's eighth-round pick. He batted .366 with 101 hits, 64 runs and 76 RBIs in 71 games for the Tar Heels.
Kansas City has now inked its first 20 Draft picks and 27 of the top 30 selections.
The Royals also signed free agents Brent Bonvillain, a left-handed pitcher from LSU, and infielder Mike Mercurio from Mount Olive College. Bonvillain was 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA in 21 appearances with six starts, while Mercurio hit .358 with 68 hits, 49 runs and 57 RBIs.