Opinion

Ned Yost shrugs off criticism, says he became more ‘flexible’ as Royals dashed to World Series

The Royals blossomed as a team during their World Series run, team officials believe. The executives saw inexperienced players Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas embrace the stage and enjoy their moment in the sun.

Even manager Ned Yost, himself a veteran of 11 big-league seasons at the helm of a club, saw himself improve. He earned raves for his bullpen deployment in October, relying on advice from pitching coach Dave Eiland on how to utilize Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis.

As Yost looked back at the season during an interview on Monday, he mentioned how he adapted to the terrain and learned to trust his coaches. In a word, he said, he became more “flexible.”

“First of all, I feel like I’ve got the best coaching staff in all of baseball and really, for me, really started to take advantage of it in September,” Yost said. “And there were times when (Don Wakamatsu) would come up in a game and suggest something, and I’d say, ‘I’m not going to do that. I’m not doing that. Are you crazy?’

“I’d look at him, and turn to Pedro (Grifol), and say, ‘Would you do this?’ And Pedro would say, ‘Yes, I’d do that.’ And I’d go, ‘Let’s do it.’ And I’ve never been like that before. I really used my coaches and their experience and their intuition and knowledge, and it paid off huge. It paid off huge for the entire organization.”

Here are a few other nuggets from Yost’s session with reporters:

▪ On the bitterness of the game seven defeat to San Francisco: “To come as close as we did to winning a world championship, the slimmest of margins, one run in game seven. I kept thinking after a week or 10 days I’ll be able to reflect back and feel really good about it. But five, six weeks and it hasn’t happened.”

▪ On the team’s plan for Brandon Finnegan: “We’re going to stretch him out in Spring Training and see what we’ve got, go from there. It’s easier to stretch a guy out to see what you’ve got, back him down if you want to put him in your pen, exactly where he’s going to start, I don’t know. We’ll find out what we see. He’s going to be a good one for a long time. He’s got tremendous poise, tremendous stuff, and what an addition to our club in September when he came up.”

▪ On bringing back Nori Aoki: “We’re still talking to his agent. This time of year there’s a lot of big numbers being thrown around, you know? So we’re just trying to filter through it and see what works for us. We would love to have him back.”

▪ On the search for another hitter: “We’re not looking for a savior bat. We’re looking for a productive bat that’s going to help us. With our bullpen, our mindset is just have the lead or be tied off the fifth inning, and we feel like we’ve got a real strong chance to win that baseball game. If we can get a productive bat to go with the bats we’ve got, we’ll be in good shape.”

▪ On how he handles the criticism of his managing: “I’ve been called a dunce, an idiot, everything else. And Andy has come up with all kinds of stuff on Twitter for me, and it just doesn’t bother me. I’m really comfortable with who I am. I know who I am. I’m not the smartest dude on the face of the earth. I never claimed be to. Never professed to be. But I’m really comfortable with who I am. I’m comfortable about my organization. I’m comfortable with my players. So I don’t really pay too much attention.”

To reach Andy McCullough, call 816-234-4370 or send email to rmccullough@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @McCulloughStar.

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