Moose, Aoki get breather from starting lineup
Yost takes opportunity to get Valencia, Maxwell action vs. lefty Sale
KANSAS CITY -- Third baseman Mike Moustakas, 0-for-15 in the Royals' first four games, got a break from the starting lineup on Sunday, but manager Ned Yost expressed confidence he'll get in gear soon.
Yost used Danny Valencia, a right-handed hitter, at third base against White Sox left-hander Chris Sale, and also had righty Justin Maxwell in right field to replace another left-handed batter, Nori Aoki.
"Does Nori need a day today? No. Nori handles lefties well," Yost said. "Moose could use a day off, especially against a guy like Sale, but Nori doesn't need one. The thing is just to try to pick spots to get Danny in there and Maxie in there."
Yost figures to have trouble creating playing time for his bench players.
"It's tougher on our team," he said. "Some teams, like Detroit, have got kind of platoon situations that keep their bench involved. We don't have that. All of our guys are just about everyday players so it's hard to keep your bench guys going."
Maxwell was used to replace Aoki in right instead of left fielder Alex Gordon "because that's where he's more natural," Yost said. "and because Gordy's got history against Sale."
Despite Moustakas' slow start, Yost is not discouraged.
"Moose hit .450 in Spring Training, led all of baseball in RBIs. That's more of the hitter he is," Yost said. "I mean, he's not a .450 hitter, but he hit lefties, he hit righties, and he's seeing pitches which is key. He'll get his hits."
Moustakas, the skipper noted, has become much more selective in swinging at pitches.
"In his best year, he saw like 3.6 pitches per at-bat. He's seeing over five pitches per at-bat now," Yost said. "That big walk that he had yesterday -- that run-scoring walk -- he wouldn't have taken that walk last year. So, he's definitely making improvements."
Although Moustakas this year is making a concentrated effort to hit the ball to all fields, so far opposing teams are shifting their defenses and playing him like an extreme pull hitter.
"Until he proves that he can go the opposite way like he did so well in Spring Training, they're going to continue to shift. They have more of a track record on him, more at-bats under his belt, for them to make that kind of a move," Yost said. "It does get into your head a little bit, but I think it's more playing the percentages off the data they have in his past."
It'll be a relief when Moustakas does break out.
"He just needs to get that first hit to get going," Yost said. "He's pressing a little bit, but not nearly as much as he did on any occasion last year. He's going to be OK."