Mike Moustakas opened the 2014 season with no hits in 12 at-bats. Alcides Escobar is hitless in 11 at-bats. But Royals manager Ned Yost intends to allow them plenty of opportunities to wrench themselves out of early-season slumps.
In general, Yost explained on Saturday morning, he likes to give a player 100 at-bats to settle into the season.
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"At least 100," Yost said on "These are all guys that have been here before. Not everybody starts off on fire. At the end of the year, these guys’ numbers are all going to be about what they should be, what we think they’re going to be."
He added, "I mean, we’re three games into it . . . Would we like them to be getting hits? Yeah. But they do other things to help you win ballgames."
Yost mentioned the defense of both players. Escobar contributed to a critical second-inning relay on Friday that saved a run. Moustakas possesses a fantastic arm at third base.
The team faces left-handed starter John Danks on Saturday afternoon. But Yost stuck with Moustakas, rather than right-handed hitting replacement Danny Valencia. Danks possesses a reverse split, meaning he is actually tougher against right-handed hitters than he is against left-handed hitters.
Plus, the organization is committed to Moustakas.
"I want to get Moose going here, a little bit," Yost said. "Tomorrow may be a different story."
Valencia, and outfielder Justin Maxwell, should start on Sunday against southpaw phenom Chris Sale. Maxwell could displace left-handed hitting right fielder Nori Aoki. Which could, potentially, mean Escobar is leading off.
The Royals designated Pedro Ciriaco for assignment on Saturday. Their roster no longer features a qualified backup middle infielder. So Yost hopes to no longer field questions about pinch-hitting for Escobar in late-game, high-leverage situations.
"It’s the third game," Yost said. "I don’t want to hear about it. For me, Escobar does things on the field that help you win ballgames, really important things, things that your average shortstop can’t do. He turns those relay throws with the best of them, like we saw yesterday, and he has done that time and time again.
"He’s got tremendous range, he’s very sure-handed with a very strong arm and he actually saves runs in the field. Every once in a while it’s an advantage to keep a defensive player as strong as he is in the game. I understand all the phases of it and what if it’s late, but it is too early for that."