Kevin Seitzer watches every Royals game, and he’s been suffering, too.
The players he worked with since their major-league debuts — Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer — are struggling in the batter’s box. So are other Royals that Seitzer tutored as hitting coach until he was fired after last season.
“There’s a lot of frustration I’m seeing in the players’ at-bats and their body language,” Seitzer said. “I felt like something needed to be changed soon.”
That something happened Thursday, when the Royals, in the throes of a 4-19 stretch, demoted their hitting coaches, Jack Maloof and Andre David, to minor-league roles, and summoned the greatest player in franchise history, George Brett, to work with the hitters. Brett will be assisted by Pedro Grifol. They will work in an interim role; Brett said he hoped to stay on for at least a month.
Seitzer was hoping he’d be making the trip to St. Louis on Thursday night to join the Royals’ dugout.
“Honestly, I was hoping I would be the one who got the call to help these players,” Seitzer said. “Just because I know the history and the track record I’ve had with them the last four years. I know the job, I know them, I know the (opposing) pitchers, the advance work that needs to be done.
“Maybe after (Brett) is done. I don’t know if he wants to be a hitting coach on a daily basis. It’s a serious grind, a long day at the ball park.”
Seitzer was fired last year after four seasons by manager Ned Yost, who said the team was capable of hitting more home runs, which contradicted Seitzer’s philosophy of hitters concentrating on hitting up the middle and to the opposite field.
But this year’s Royals are experiencing a massive power outage. They are by far last in the American League in home runs with 28. Last year the team also finished last in the AL in home runs, but the Royals’ 131 homers were the second-most by the club since 2005, and Seitzer defended his approach.
“There was a little too much emphasis on pulling the ball and hitting for power,” Seitzer said. “I didn’t like for guy to go up there and do that on a regular basis because it can mess you up mechanically and also with your approach.
“I see them trying to make adjustments that we focused on in the past year that have worked. The problem is they’re not sure which ones they should focus on. And when things start going bad you start panicking and start hitting all kinds of different buttons to get something to work.”
Seitzer said he’s heard from current Royals, but he hasn’t had a “come fix my swing” conversation with any current player. He’d like to, even if it means working with the manager who fired him.
“The manager has a rough position,” Seitzer said. “There were expectations that he had that I didn’t measure up to. That’s OK, that’s part of the job. But now (Yost) is realizing the expectations weren’t realistic, and he needs to figure out a way to get some things dialed in.
“He made a mistake by firing me, that’s how I feel about it. Forget it. Let’s get these guys rolling.”