On Saturday evening, shortly after setting a Royals franchise record with nine RBIs in one game, third baseman Mike Moustakas acknowledged to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal that his mother passed away earlier this summer.
Moustakas had twice left the team during the season to visit his mother, Connie, as she battled cancer. Moustakas told Fox Sports that his mother died Aug. 9. He stayed with the team and played the next day.
“It was tough for him,” manager Ned Yost said. “But when she passed away, he was bound and determined that she wanted him playing baseball. It was hard on him.
“I don’t want to say it’s a ‘distraction,’ but it’s always constantly there. And for him to go out and play the way that he has, I think a lot of it has to do with just honoring his mom. I think that’s helped. That’s part of the reason why he’s been so successful.”
Moustakas has experienced the best season of his major-league career in 2015. He hit his 17th and 18th homers of the year on Saturday. He entered Sunday with a career-best .808 on-base plus slugging percentage.
“I don’t think he needed extra motivation,” Yost said. “Because he was motivated to prove himself as a major-league player, after what he did in the playoffs. For the first time, he had really sustained success. He knew what kind of player he was. He wanted to go out and prove it over the course of the year, and he’s done that.”
Moustakas has been intensely private about his mother’s illness, which he did not reveal publicly until his second stint on the family emergency/bereavement list shortly before he made the All-Star team in July. The Royals respected Moustakas’ requests for privacy, and team officials never commented on the situation.
Connie Moustakas had been sick for the past two years. Moustakas remembered her as an adoring presence during his games growing up.
“It’s weird,” Moustakas told Fox Sports. “It’s just an empty feeling. Nothing is ever going to fill it. But I know every single day when I go to work and play baseball she gets to watch me in person now. She’s up there watching me, probably telling everybody, ‘That’s my son down there.’”