Royals stick with Mike Moustakas, despite continued struggles

05/13/2014 6:09 PM

05/13/2014 11:22 PM

After discussing whether to send Mike Moustakas to the minor leagues on Monday, the Royals rallied around their embattled, ineffective third baseman and reiterated their confidence in his eventual revival, despite little evidence of progress.

Over the weekend, manager Ned Yost indicated the team intended to remove a position player from the roster to make room for a reliever for Tuesdays series opener against Colorado. Instead, the club placed second baseman Omar Infante (inflamed disk in lower back) on the disabled list and recalled utility infielder Pedro Ciriaco.

Thus, they stuck with Moustakas, who has a career-worst, .536 on-base plus slugging percentage. Both Yost and general manager Dayton Moore offered ringing endorsements of Moustakas, praising his defense and power potential.

Im not doing it, Yost said. Simple as that. Im not really discussing it. Hes going to stay here right now.

Moore asked a more relative question: Whats the alternative?

Moustakas sat on Tuesday. The Rockies started a left-handed pitcher, and Danny Valencia faces southpaw as part of the teams platoon. But the organization does not view Valencia as an every-day player. They also possess concerns about the defensive ability of Johnny Giavotella at third base, where he has played much of the season for Class AAA Omaha.

With the injury to Infante, who is eligible to return from the disabled list on May 22, Giavotella will handle second base. Ciriaco is insurance for shortstop Alcides Escobar.

Right now, were covering in certain areas, Moore said. But to ask us to cover a guy that youre expecting to be a big-time run producer, its a difficult challenge at this point in time. But well continue to look for ways to improve our team in all areas.

Moore appeared slightly perturbed to be discussing Moustakas. The team snapped a five-game losing streak on their most recent road trip. They won four out of seven games. But the issues with Moustakas still hold sway.

Anyone want to talk about our bullpen? Moore said with a grin. Or talk about our starting pitching. Is there anything good about this team right now?

Their defense of Moustakas relies around both his defense and his power potential. He possesses an above-average glove, which is critical to the teams run prevention. He also leads the club with four home runs, which serves as a larger commentary on their dearth of power.

Hes a guy that can change the course of a game with one swing, Yost said. And he plays defense.

Moustakas altered his approach this winter. He has been more patient at the plate thus far, but has been unable to make consistent contact. Opposing defenses have treated him with a shift to his pull side, and Moustakas conceded it had messed with his head.

Im getting myself out, Moustakas said. Theyre not getting me out.

To Yost, the situation feels familiar to 2013. Moustakas batted .215 with a .598 OPS during the first half of that season.

He hasnt had enough success to understand that hes going to be successful, Yost said. So hell just keep fighting the same battles. Hell battle his way out of this, just like he did last year.

Moustakas did stabilize somewhat in the second half of 2013. He posted a .725 OPS during that period, with six homers and 13 doubles. But he is in a deeper hole now. The answer, the Royals believe, is more of the same.

His talent is sufficient enough for him to be a guy on this club thats going to be a run producer and a guy thats a solid defender at third base, Yost said. Hes a guy thats going to help us win a championship.

Chen making progress

Bruce Chen (bulging disk in lower back) hopes to throw a light bullpen session of a mound on Wednesday morning. He has been limited to playing catch thus far in his rehabilitation. Danny Duffy has been starting in Chens place.


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