ST. LOUIS — The speculation regarding Ned Yost’s job security as the Royals’ manager is rising in direct proportion to the club’s depressing collapse in recent weeks.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
“It hasn’t bothered me,” he insisted prior to Wednesday’s game against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. “I don’t deal with it. I don’t listen to it. I know it’s there. It’s got to be there.
“It’s like anything else. If you’re a hitter, you’re judged on your production — your batting average, your RBIs, your on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
“As a manager, my only production is wins and losses. The standings. Yeah, I understand that side of it. It is what it is. I don’t really focus on it. I don’t really worry about it. I don’t even really think about it.”
It’s getting harder, it seems, to think about anything else.
A promising 17-10 start that had the Royals pushing Detroit for first place in the American League Central Division is now a distant memory.
The reality Wednesday, when the I-70 Series shifted east for its final two games, is the Royals were now tied with Minnesota for last place in the division.
Yost’s club had lost seven in a row and matched a franchise record with 10 straight home losses. The Royals had just four victories in their last 22 games and stood at 21-28.
The Royals continue to project a unified front. General manager Dayton Moore reiterated Tuesday what he said last week — that while concern and an increased urgency exist, there is no panic among club officials.
Moore also recently labeled Yost as the “least” of the club’s problems.
Yost is working to show a similar stay-steady approach in dealing with an increasingly punchless attack that scored just six runs over the previous four games and now ranks 12th among the 15 AL teams in runs per game.
Following Tuesday’s 4-1 loss, Yost snapped at the suggestion that he wasn’t holding players accountable by asking: “What are you asking me to do? Take my belt off and spank them? Yell at them? Scream at them?”
Yost offered a calmer follow-up prior to Wednesday’s game.
“The most important thing is you can’t go crazy,” he said. “That’s how you lose them — when you start going nuts when times are going bad. You have to stay steady. You have to stay in control. And you have to stay supportive.
“If you start yelling and screaming, it makes it worse. I’m trying to stay as steady as I can. There’s nobody panicking. Dayton is doing fine. We’re all staying calm and thinking through every scenario to figure out what we need to do to get out of this.
“If we need to make changes, what changes do we need to make? What do we need to do to get back on track to put an end to this slide.”
Yost admitted his calmer approach is in contrast to his time in Milwaukee, when he allowed the pressure to show. That played a role in his 2008 dismissal with 12 games left and the Brewers still positioned for the postseason.
“I’ve been there before,” he said. “I learned you just worry about what you can control. I know the fans are definitely frustrated, but we are, too. I think we’re all in this together in respect to the frustration level.
“That still doesn’t take away from the job we have — to continue to battle through it, and get through it somehow, some way. It’s not just telling a guy to step it up. They’re all trying to step it up.”
Yost believes a few runs and, more importantly, a victory — just one, maybe — can turn everything around.
“Once we start to swing the bat,” he said, “that’s where you’ll start to see everybody start to relax. Now, you start to put a win streak together. It all comes back to where it should be.”
To reach Bob Dutton, send email to email@example.com . Follow his updates at twitter.com/Royals_Report.