KANSAS CITY -- Royals reliever Tim Collins might want to start spelling his last name with a 'K.' It would certainly be appropriate.
The lefty has been on quite the strikeout kick lately, having set down seven of the last nine batters he's faced via strikeouts entering Thursday's series finale against the Orioles.
Collins struck out five of the six batters he faced in two innings of relief Tuesday night against Texas. On Wednesday, Collins pitched the 10th frame of the Royals' 4-3 loss in 15 innings against Baltimore -- striking out two of the three batters he faced.
"I've always been able to get strikeouts, but I've had quite a bit lately," Collins said. "It's not so much mechanics -- it is to an extent -- but it's just being able to go out there and get strike one, and being able to command all my pitches."
Some pitchers try to get fly balls or ground balls for their defenders. Collins is more about taking care of business himself.
"I'd be lying to you if I told you I wasn't trying to strike guys out," Collins said. "As a bullpen guy, I'm just trying to go out there and get three outs, or six if I'm going out there for another inning. If I'm getting ahead and I've got a chance to strike a guy out, I'm going to try to strike a guy out. I'm not a big pitch-to-contact guy. Obviously, there's certain situations where you have to, but I'm trying to get some strikeouts."
Quintero struck in helmet during O's loss
KANSAS CITY -- Royals catcher Humberto Quintero left Thursday's 5-3 loss to the Orioles as a precautionary measure after being hit by a thrown ball.
Quintero was at first base in the seventh inning, when Jarrod Dyson lined out to second baseman Robert Andino. Trying to double off Quintero, Andino's throw toward first hit Quintero in the ear flap of his batting helmet. Quintero put his hand up to his head as the ball bounced away.
After reaching second base safely, Quintero once again grabbed his head.
Manager Ned Yost and assistant athletic trainer Kyle Turner came out to check on Quintero at second base, and he remained in the game.
When the Royals took the field in the top of the eighth, Brayan Pena replaced Quintero behind home plate.
"We took him out kind of for precautionary reasons," Yost said. "He got a little dizzy when he got to second base, but he was fine. The umpire asked him, 'What day is it?' and he said Thursday right away. And he stumped me because I didn't even know what day it was. So he was doing better than I did. He's fine. We just ran him through all the precautionary tests and no side effects."
Quintero gave the Royals an early lead with a two-run double in the third.
Slumping Hosmer breaks from starting lineup
KANSAS CITY -- Eric Hosmer just can't seem to get out of his slump. So, Royals manager Ned Yost is giving him a couple days' off.
The Royals first baseman wasn't in the lineup for Thursday's game against the Orioles, and Yost said Hosmer will probably sit out Friday's Interleague series opener against the Diamondbacks, too.
Yost said he wanted to give Hosmer some time to clear his head and also avoid unfavorable matchups with left-handed pitchers [O's starter Brian Matusz and D-backs starter Joe Saunders on Friday].
"With two lefties, [this will] just give him a chance to relax a little bit and clear his mind," Yost said. "He's been grinding really hard through it, been doing a great job of staying positive, but I think it's time where he just sits back and takes it easy."
Hosmer entered play on Thursday with a .174 batting average, the third-lowest among qualified hitters in the American League. Hosmer's average has been below the Mendoza Line since April 27, and he's picked up just nine hits since that date.
"I think later in the game he starts to press a little bit. That's the main reason why you give him these little mental breaks," Yost said. "We told him that we don't really want him in the cage at all the next two days. We just want him to take it easy. ... The fact of the matter is with a player of his caliber, he knows how to hit. His body knows how to hit. At times our mind and our brain get in the way."
Yost has moved Hosmer around in the order in hopes of jump-starting his production. Most recently, Hosmer had been hitting in the two-hole. Yost said he likes him in that spot of the batting order and plans to keep him there.
Perez hitting, nearing return behind the plate
KANSAS CITY -- Injured Royals catcher Salvador Perez is getting closer to returning to the field.
Royals manager Ned Yost said on Thursday that Perez, who is on the 60-day disabled list recovering from a torn meniscus, has been hitting in the batting cages and he's about a month away from coming back.
"Sal's getting close," Yost said. "He's probably, hopefully three weeks to a month away. I watched him hit in the cage and he's swinging the bat well. He's going to probably start catching side sessions after the weekend, start taking BP on the field after the weekend. That's good. He's getting close."
Royals starter Jonathan Sanchez left Thursday for Surprise, Ariz., for extended spring training. Yost said Sanchez, who is on the 15-day DL with biceps tendinitis, would throw some side sessions in Arizona and that he has had no setbacks. Yost added that a Minor League rehab assignment for the left-hander is probably a couple weeks away.
The Kansas City Fire Department was on the premises at Kauffman Stadium during Wednesday's game between the Royals and Orioles, reportedly to extinguish some smoldering atop the scoreboard where fireworks are launched.
Earlier in the game, smoke could be seen drifting through the stadium, and fire trucks were spotted driving in off the I-70 expressway.
Vinnie Duber is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.