After batting second in the Royals’ two exhibition games against Houston, third baseman Mike Moustakas has locked down the No. 2 spot in the lineup, according to manager Ned Yost.
Moustakas batted .345 with a .940 on-base plus slugging percentage across 21 spring games.
“We’re really proud with the work he put in working on trying to beat the shift, hitting the ball the other way, staying back and bunting when he needed to,” Yost said. “We think right now that he is swinging as well as anybody and he is a perfect fit for that two-hole.”
Yost said the situation reminded him of his first year with the Royals when Alex Gordon took over the No. 3 spot out of spring training despite playing a stint in in the minors during the previous season. Gordon bounced back with a .303 batting average and 45 doubles.
“Out of nowhere I put (Gordon) in the three-hole and gave him extra confidence that they believe I can handle this,” Yost said. “This confidence boost to go along with the hard work and effort (Moustakas) put forth is something that could carry him through the first half of the season offensively.”
Orlando adds depth
As Gordon continues to recover from an offseason wrist surgery, the Royals will turn to Paulo Orlando for extra help in the left field.
Orlando batted .301 with a .355 on-base percentage and .415 slugging percentage for Class AAA Omaha last season. He had 61 hits — 36 for extra bases — in 136 games with 63 RBIs.
“When I pick spots to give him breaks, it is generally going to be against a tough left-handed pitcher,” Yost said. “We decided having the right-handed bat to go in the outfield with (Jarrod) Dyson’s left-handed bat would get us through the early part of the year until Gordy is back to being 100 percent strength in that wrist. It’s protection for him and for us.”
The Royals have five outfielders on their 25-man opening-day roster: Gordon, Orlando, Dyson, Lorenzo Cain and Alex Rios.