KANSAS CITY -- As Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas discussed his season-ending injury with reporters Thursday, a voice boomed from across the clubhouse.
"Love you, boy!" catcher Salvador Perez shouted.
Moustakas smiled and shouted back, "Love you, too, Nino!"
The chemistry and close bonding inside the Royals clubhouse will be tested now after the news that Moustakas has a torn ACL in his right knee. Moustakas was put on the 15-day disabled list, and outfielder Brett Eibner was called up from Triple-A Omaha.
Cheslor Cuthbert -- Kansas City's No. 12-ranked prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com -- who is hitting .237 with one homer and three RBIs in 15 games, will get the bulk of the playing time at third base, along with Whit Merrifield.
One play in Chicago last Sunday put two Royals All-Stars on the disabled list -- Moustakas and left fielder Alex Gordon collided while chasing a pop foul. Gordon also is on the disabled list and will miss three to four weeks with a fractured bone in his wrist.
"To lose two All-Stars on one play is kind of tough," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "But you just deal with it, man.
"We're covered defensively. We're going to have pick up [Moustakas'] offense as a group. But we've been doing that here lately. But it's a good opportunity for Cheslor. He'll get an opportunity to show what he can do."
Moustakas had an MRI in Minneapolis on Monday, but there still was some hope he might have been able to play through the pain. Doctors in Minneapolis, where the Royals were playing the Twins, couldn't make a definitive determination.
But when Moustakas and the team returned to Kansas City on Wednesday night, he was examined by the Royals' team physician, Vincent Key, who determined Moustakas would need surgery.
"[Moustakas] is going for a second opinion," Yost said, "but we fully expect the second opinion to be like the first."
Yost said he spoke with Moustakas on Thursday morning.
"He was definitely disappointed," Yost said. "But he was apologetic. I said, 'Dude, what are you apologizing for? It's not your fault.'"
Moustakas seemed upbeat when he spoke with reporters Thursday afternoon.
"I'm going to be the best cheerleader anyone has ever seen," he said. "No one is going to feel sad for you. You just work hard and get back when you can. It's part of the game."
Royals general manager Dayton Moore seemed to be leaning toward replacing Moustakas and Gordon internally for now.
"It's going to be challenging to replace not only the production of Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas," Moore said, "but also their presence in the lineup and in the clubhouse. They are a crucial part of this team.
"But we also are excited and energized that we have players like Cheslor Cuthbert and Whit Merrifield and Brett Eibner. We look for them to be productive.
"We feel like we're prepared to win with this current group regardless of the injuries."