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Moose likely No. 2 hitter in Royals' lineup

Yost said he's leaning toward the third baseman over Gordon in that spot
MLB.com @FlannyMLB

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- All through camp last season, Royals manager Ned Yost searched for a No. 2 hitter.

Meanwhile, Yost's coaching staff, namely Dale Sveum, Don Wakamatsu and Pedro Grifol, all believed they had the solution.

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- All through camp last season, Royals manager Ned Yost searched for a No. 2 hitter.

Meanwhile, Yost's coaching staff, namely Dale Sveum, Don Wakamatsu and Pedro Grifol, all believed they had the solution.

And the coaching staff had, at the very least, a curious solution: Mike Moustakas, who was coming off a career-worst .212 season.

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"They were just very convinced he'd do really well there," Yost said. "Wak, Pedro, Dale -- they were all very convinced."

Why did they feel Moustakas was the answer?

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"Because of their great coach-ness," Yost said. "They just felt he would excel there.

"Right off the bat they thought that. We need a No. 2 hitter and they all said, 'Moose.' I said, 'Moose?' They said, 'Yes.'"

Yost threw Moustakas in the No. 2 spot on occasion last spring, but Spring Training lineups often are so disjointed it hardly raised a stir. But in the team's final two exhibition games in Houston -- when Yost was settling into his batting order -- Moustakas hit second, to everyone's surprise.

"I knew I had to get a lineup sometime," Yost recalled. "And Moose had a great spring, so, we did it."

Moustakas went on to have a career season -- .284 average with an .817 OPS, 22 homers and 82 RBIs.

And this year, Yost again is searching for a No. 2 hitter. On Sunday, he said it would come down to Moustakas or Alex Gordon. But Yost said he was leaning toward Moustakas.

Video: Yost discusses value of Gordon and Escobar to Royals

"Moose or Alex, but probably Moose," Yost said. "We wouldn't have moved Moose out of there last year if we didn't get Ben Zobrist. Moose had a career year there."

Yost remembered another bold batting-order decision years ago.

"We did the same thing with Alex Gordon in 2011," Yost said. "He never had any success [before that]. He struggled all spring that year, but took off at the end and I put Gordy in the three-hole, and everyone thought I was nuts. Gordy went on to have a phenomenal year."

Gordon hit .303 that season with 23 homers and 87 RBIs, though he hit leadoff some as well.

Rotation order
After right-hander Kyle Zimmer starts the Cactus League opener on Wednesday, the order of Royals' starting pitchers after that will be Edinson Volquez, Yordano Ventura, Ian Kennedy, Chris Young and Kris Medlen.

But Yost said that isn't necessarily the regular-season rotation.

"Too many off-days, too many split-squads, this spring," he said. "I wouldn't read too much into it. We'll adjust later."

Yet Volquez, who has said he doesn't necessarily want to pitch Opening Day, mocked some worry.

"Oh, no!" Volquez said. "We got to mix that up."

Intrasquad game
The Royals will have a 3 1/2-inning intrasquad game on Monday at 12:45 p.m. CT. Left-hander Brian Flynn will start. Several other pitchers are scheduled to throw an inning, including right-hander Christian Binford and right-hander Alex Mills.

Signings
The Royals signed the last of their six 0-3 service-year guys: Christian Colon, Paulo Orlando, Flynn, Ramon Torres, Reymond Fuentes and Matt Strahm.

Colon got $518,425, Orlando got $514,250, Flynn got $515,950, Fuentes got $508,450, and Strahm and Torres got $507,500.

Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB.

 

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