Opinion

Royals’ Mike Moustakas sees success hitting against the shift

Kansas City Royals Mike Moustakas during Saturday's spring training game against the Cincinnati Reds on March 7, 2015 in Surprise, Ariz.
Kansas City Royals Mike Moustakas during Saturday's spring training game against the Cincinnati Reds on March 7, 2015 in Surprise, Ariz. The Kansas City Star

Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas’ endeavor to hit the ball to the left side is making progress.

Moustakas, a left-handed hitter, is trying to attack the defense’s shifts to the right side by showing bunt and also hitting the other way. In the first inning of the Royals’ 5-4 win over Milwaukee on Monday, he grounded deep to short, forcing Milwaukee’s Jean Segura to make a dazzling stop and throw.

Then, in the third, Moustakas whistled a two-run double down the left-field line against left-handed pitcher Neal Cotts.

“I’m still working on things in spring training … trying to let the ball get a little deeper in and hit it to the other side of the field,” Moustakas said. “You can’t put too much into it. I felt comfortable in the box and I got a good pitch to hit, put a good swing on it, and it stayed fair.”

Moustakas didn’t ignore the right side either. He ripped a sharp grounder that was too hot to handle for second baseman Scooter Gennett and went for a single.

“I still have something over there,” said Moustakas, who is hitting .273 for the spring. “Just trying to hit it where it’s pitched. Success is always good, but when you’re out here working on things, if you don’t get results, it’s OK. Keep grinding and see what happens.”

The emphasis on hitting to all fields comes after a season in which Moustakas hit a career-worst .212 last season and was sent to the minors before coming alive in the postseason.

“Spring training is the perfect time for him to be working on this,” manager Ned Yost said. “The more he does it, the more comfortable he’s going to be in tight situations. It changes the whole way they defend him.

“They’re going to defend you one day and limit your percentage of being an offensive performer. You have to adjust back. It’s a game of adjustments, and he’s working real hard to make his adjustments.”

To reach Randy Covitz, call 816-234-4796 or send email to rcovitz@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @randycovitz.

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