Five ways for the Royals to get back on track

Updated: 2013-05-20T22:21:45Z

The Kansas City Star

The Royals are coming off a difficult week, where they went 1-6 against Chicago, Baltimore and New York. They're still over .500 at 18-16 as they start a nine-game road trip, but they definitely have issues. What do they need to do to snap this early skid?

1. Don't panic. It was one bad week. The Royals are still over .500 at 18-16 as they enter Monday’s series opener against the Angels. Every team goes through this. A little perspective: The Yankees opened the season at 1-4. The Braves are 9-15 since their 12-1 start. The Indians were 8-13 before winning their last two in KC and starting a 12-2 run. The defending World Series champion Giants lost five in a row in late April but have the NL's second-best record at 23-15. Bad weeks happen to everyone.

2. Billy Butler needs to start hitting. Most will agree that Butler is the best hitter in the lineup, but he's underperforming, along with many others. But the Royals are confident that Butler will get back into a groove with fewer off days and a more consistent routine in the coming weeks.

3. Break out of fielding slump. Usually a strength, the Royals' defense has faltered recently. Shortstop Alcides Escobar and third baseman Mike Moustakas -- both viewed as Gold Glove-caliber players -- struggled last week and may be starting to think too much about NOT making an error.

4. Give re-shuffled lineup some time to click. Last week, manager Ned Yost moved leadoff man Alex Gordon to No. 3, pushing Butler to the cleanup spot. That leaves Escobar in the leadoff spot, which isn't ideal. He's better at No. 2. But the Royals need more production from the middle of the order, which prompted the moves in the first place.

5. Continue to find more time for Dyson, Johnson. As Jeff Francoeur and Chris Getz slump at the plate, expect Jarrod Dyson and Elliot Johnson to continue to see more playing time, as they did last week. At this point, a trade does not seem likely as the Royals look at in-house alternatives first.

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