Royals manager Ned Yost sought to clarify his hitting philosophy after one of the team’s batting coaches caused a stir among fans with his comments about the club’s lack of power.
Jack Maloof, who along with Andre Davis replaced Kevin Seitzer as hitting coaches in the offseason, told
on Wednesday that he expects the Royals to finish last in the American League in home runs a year after the team finished tied for last.
“There is just no reward here (for us) to try and hit home runs,” Maloof told Fox Sports reporter Jeffrey Flanagan. “We try to stay down on the ball, be more line-drive oriented, and do more situational hitting at least through the first two or three rounds (at home) here. That’s why I’m not overly concerned because I think we’ll lead the league in fewest home runs again this year. We don’t have a 40-homer guy in the middle of the lineup.”
Yost contends the view that he wanted a homer-centric approach after Seitzer was replaced is misleading.
“It was never the idea to get up there and try to hit homers,” Yost said. “I don’t think I said I want to try to hit more homers, but I do think we have the ability to hit homers. That’s what we’re working toward.
“We haven’t hit homers, but it’s not because we’re up there trying to hit homers. We’re trying to drive the ball. We know that, with our athleticism, if we can find ways to drive the gaps, we’re going to score runs.
“But we’ve got to get guys on. When we do, we’ve got to get pitches we can take advantage of and drive them in the gaps. Then, naturally, power is going to come, and balls are going to jump out of the park.
“Before, it just took us three or four hits too often to score a run.”
Bona fide “road’ trip
Royals fans might recall a rather famous quip from a former manager about how never to believe that things can’t get worse.
Tuesday night provided the latest confirmation.
The Royals had just lost 4-1 to the Cardinals at Kauffman Stadium, which matched a franchise record by being the 10th consecutive home loss, when they got to the Downtown Airport for their quick flight to St. Louis.
A mechanical problem grounded the plane.
“We didn’t have many options,” manager Ned Yost said. “There was no waiting around for another plane. There was no other plane coming. It was either send everybody home or get on the bus.
“We’d already sat on the plane for an hour, and I didn’t want to put them back in their cars to have them drive home. We figured out a way to get two buses there. It was like a minor-league trip.”
The players departed in the first bus around midnight for the (roughly) 230-mile trip, and the staff followed about 45 minutes later in a second bus.
“We got here,” pitcher James Shields said. “We got here safe and sound. We got to see Aaron Crow’s old stomping grounds (in Columbia).”
Pitcher Jeremy Guthrie offered a bit of gallows humor by telling everyone the plane’s problems were a ruse; that the bus was actually headed to Omaha.
As third baseman Mike Moustakas added: “Nobody was able to sleep on our bus.”
All reports suggest the staff bus, the latter bus, was far quieter. It didn’t arrive at the club’s hotel, the Westin adjacent to Busch Stadium, until 4:30 a.m.
The two games at Busch Stadium will be played under National League rules, which means no designated hitter. The Royals adjusted Wednesday by putting Billy Butler at first base and Eric Hosmer on the bench.
“You just can’t (take Butler’s bat out of the lineup),” Yost said. “Especially now. You could if we had other guys swinging the bats well.”
The Royals also played a fourth straight game without catcher Salvy Perez, who remains on bereavement leave in Venezuela following the death of his maternal grandmother. That leave can last a maximum of seven days.
“He’s still trying to get things wrapped up,” Yost said. “He called and left me a message. When I tried to call him back, I couldn’t get him.”
Hi-A Wilmington left-hander John Lamb followed up his selection as the Carolina League pitcher of the week by working seven scoreless innings Tuesday in a 6-0 victory at Carolina.
Lamb, 22, has worked 14 scoreless innings in his last two starts while evening his record at 4-4 and lowering his ERA to 4.50 through nine starts. He is in his first full season since returning from Tommy John surgery.
The Royals released three minor-league players, including right-handed pitcher Nick Rogers, who had a 5.28 ERA in 12 relief appearances at Class AA Northwest Arkansas.
The club also released first baseman Rainier Bello from its short-season Idaho Falls roster, and right-handed pitcher Darwin Castillo from its Rookie Surprise roster.
It was seven years ago Thursday — May 30, 2006 — that Dayton Moore was hired as the sixth general manager in Royals history. He assumed his duties June 8.
Moore was an assistant general manager in Atlanta under former Royals GM John Schuerholz when hired to replace Allard Baird.