Lorenzo Cain’s hamstring injury led to a big lineup shift for the Kansas City Royals, with Kendrys Morales starting in right field for the first time since 2008 against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Morales, the Royals’ principal designated hitter, batted third and played right field Wednesday night. Jarrod Dyson started in center in place of Cain, placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left hamstring strain.

“When you lose Cain’s bat, when you lose Morales’ bat coming into a National League park, that’s two big bats,” manager Ned Yost said.

“You can’t do that. That made it a lot easier for me to put Mo in here.”

Yost said Morales gets plenty of work in the outfield shagging fly balls during batting practice, and also takes some grounders at first base. He has made 66 starts at DH and two at first base.

Syndergaard speaks

Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard has cleared up some questions about the status of his elbow, acknowledging he has a bone spur but calling it “pretty insignificant.”

Speaking before New York’s game against the Washington Nationals on Wednesday night, Syndergaard said he’s being treated with anti-inflammatories.

Syndergaard (8-3) struggled Monday night in Washington, squandering a 4-0 lead in a loss that ended his six-game winning streak. He lasted only three innings while giving up five runs and three walks, both season highs.

Asked after the game about reports indicating he has a bone spur, the right-hander said he was fine and insisted his elbow wasn’t the cause of his shaky performance.

He reiterated Wednesday that the poor results were due to his mechanics.

In his previous outing last week, Syndergaard beat Kansas City but was pulled after six innings because his elbow flared up, manager Terry Collins said. Syndergaard had an MRI between starts that showed no structural damage, the Mets said.

Nats make moves

Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon threw a simulated game and is headed to Double-A Harrisburg for a rehab assignment.

Pabelbon says he threw around 30 pitches Wednesday before Washington hosted the New York Mets.

The reliever is on the 15-day disabled list, sidelined since June 13 with a right intercostal strain.

Papelbon is 1-2 with a 3.28 ERA and 16 saves in 25 appearances. The next step for him involves pitching on consecutive days for Harrisburg beginning Friday.

In other news, Nationals manager Dusty Baker confirmed the team has signed veteran starter Mat Latos to a minor league contract.

Latos, who pitched for Baker in Cincinnati, was designated for assignment by the Chicago White Sox on June 9 with a 6-2 record and 4.62 ERA.