KANSAS CITY -- Alex Gordon's numbers may not show it, but manager Ned Yost said he thinks his All-Star left fielder is improving on defense.
In the first inning Saturday, Gordon fielded a drive by Ryan Zimmerman down the left-field line and threw him out at second for his 11th outfield assist of the season. He also took over the American League lead.
His numbers are down a little bit since he led the league with 20 assists in 2011 and finished with 17 last season, but Yost said that's because opponents simply have more respect for his arm, and the manager has no doubt that Gordon can earn a third straight Gold Glove Award.
"Absolutely, I think he will win it," Yost said. "I think he'll win a bunch of them."
The outfield group as a whole has compiled 132 outfield assists since the 2011 season, which is 36 more than any other Major League team in that span. This season, the outfielders have 30 assists, with Lorenzo Cain coming in second with seven, followed by David Lough with five, Jarrod Dyson and ex-Royal Jeff Francoeur each with three and Justin Maxwell with one.
"If we're not hitting the ball very well we have to play great defense," Gordon said. "It's just part of our job to go out there and help the pitcher in any way that we can. I know that they love it when there's a hit on the field and you throw a guy out. We take great pride in it and like helping out the pitchers."
Smith recalled with Hochevar on paternity leave
KANSAS CITY -- Left-handed reliever Will Smith is getting pretty used to the stretch of Interstate 29 that connects Omaha and Kansas City. After all, he's traveled that road 13 times this season.
Smith was recalled from Triple-A Omaha on Sunday morning when Luke Hochevar was placed on paternity leave. In six previous stints with the Royals, Smith made eight appearances, including one start. He is 1-1 with a 3.27 ERA in 22 innings.
"It's a nice luxury to have," manager Ned Yost said. "It's kind of not fair to him, he gets to come up, do well and go back down, but it's nice to have that comfort level knowing that when these things arise, you have someone to plug into the puzzle to help you out. I have confidence in Will and he has done a great job every time he's come up."
His seven calls match Louis Coleman's record from last season, but Smith said it's worth it every time.
"You're just excited to be back," Smith said. "You can't complain about coming back to the big leagues, it doesn't matter how many times it is. You're ready to get in the car and go."
Selman fires eight hitless innings at Class A
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals' No. 15 prospect, Sam Selman, threw eight hitless innings for Class A Wilmington on Saturday night.
He retired the first 13 batters before a runner reached on an error in the fifth inning. He finished with two walks, a career-high 11 strikeouts and a no-decision in the Blue Rocks' 10-inning 1-0 win against Potomac.
Selman, a left-hander from Vanderbilt, was the Royals' second-round pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft and he is 10-9 with a 3.52 ERA at Wilmington this season.
Kathleen Gier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.