Dayton Moore invited George Brett to watch a game with him at Kauffman Stadium a few weeks ago, during the mid-May doldrums that swallowed up the Royals offense. His pitch was tentative, an inquiry designed to gauge Brett’s interest in repeating his duties from the previous summer.
“He said he had a lot going on,” Moore said on Wednesday afternoon, before the Royals hosted the first game of the I-70 Series’ second leg. “He knew what I was talking about.”
Brett, the Hall of Famer and team adviser, had no interest in returning to the big-league coaching staff, which played into the team’s subsequent decision-making. The Royals installed Dale Sveum as their hitting coach last Thursday and shifted Pedro Grifol to catching instructor.
Under Sveum’s tutelage, which both Moore and manager Ned Yost insist is not that different from Grifol’s instructions, the Royals scored at least six runs in each of their four victories on a road trip to Toronto and St. Louis.
“On this road trip, it’s a different level of confidence, now,” Yost said.
Sveum became the team’s sixth hitting instructor since the end of the 2012 season. Moore said he was “not proud“ of the consistent turnover. He placed the blame on himself, although he did concede “our players are talented enough, they’re far enough along in their career where it’s important that they take ownership of their development as well.”
Moore shouldered the responsibility for the events of last summer, when Brett stepped down and Grifol replaced him as the lone hitting coach. When the team hired Brett in May, after reassigning Jack Maloof and Andre David, Brett discussed it as a temporary maneuver. Moore felt Brett would change his mind.
“I was wrong,” Moore said. “But I felt he had a chance to do it. And if there was a chance that George Brett would do it long-term, I wanted to give him that opportunity. And that’s why we did it.”
Brett walked away in July. Grifol took over. The carousel spun once more a year later.
“I just took a risk,” Moore said. “I thought George would do it. It didn’t happen. And we are where we are now. We’re going to move forward, and expect it to work.”
Cain stays down
Lorenzo Cain entered Wednesday night with a .364 on-base percentage. But with leadoff hitter Nori Aoki resting, Yost indicated he had no interest in moving Cain up in the order. Cain batted sixth. Omar Infante led off.
Yost did not offer an extended reasoning for his decision. Asked why Cain wasn’t considered, Yost answered, “Because I don’t want him leading off.”
Chen on the mend
Bruce Chen (bulging disk in lower back) returned to the clubhouse after a three-inning rehab appearance on Tuesday. Chen threw 46 pitches for Class AA Northwest Arkansas, and he estimated he will throw 60 with Class AAA Omaha this weekend. He indicated he would need at least one more start after that before he could be ready for reactivation.