Royals

Royals first-base coach Rusty Kuntz, rest of coaching staff will return in 2017

Kansas City Royals’ Rusty Kuntz will be back as first-base coach next season, masterminding the club’s base running and outfield defense.
Kansas City Royals’ Rusty Kuntz will be back as first-base coach next season, masterminding the club’s base running and outfield defense. jsleezer@kcstar.com

Every year, Royals first-base coach Rusty Kuntz says he is ready to retire from the organization’s big-league staff and take on a role as a roving instructor. And every year, manager Ned Yost has convinced him to return.

It appears that 2017 will be no different.

Yost confirmed on Monday that Kuntz, the mastermind behind the club’s base running and outfield defense, will return in the same role next season.

“Rusty will be back,” Yost said.

When asked if Kuntz had signed on to return, Yost paused, eliciting a laugh from reporters.

“Well … ,” Yost said.

But later, Royals general manager Dayton Moore and Yost confirmed again that Kuntz would be back. For now, the same goes for the rest of Yost’s big-league staff.

Dave Eiland will return for his sixth season as the club’s pitching coach. Dale Sveum will return for his fourth full season with the Royals and third as full-time hitting coach. Pedro Grifol will continue in his role as the club’s catching coach. Rounding out the staff, Don Wakamatsu will return as Yost’s chief bench coach; Mike Jirschele will return to coach third base and organize the infield defense; and Doug Henry will continue as the club’s bullpen coach.

Yost not slowing down after .500 season

At the age of 61, Ned Yost is signed on to manage the Royals through the 2018 season, the result of a contract extension signed before the 2016 season. If Yost is still managing the Royals in 2018, the roster could look dramatically different, with Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Danny Duffy, Wade Davis and Alcides Escobar all set to reach free agency following 2017. But for now, Yost is offering no firm indications about his future.

He is signed on to manage two more seasons, he said. And if he is still having fun, he’ll continue to do it.

“(Dayton) has given us a great group of guys,” Yost said. “I love working with Dayton. I just love that relationship that we have. And I’m really proud of these players, because they’re my type of guys. They play hard and they never quit.”

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