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Pull-happy Royals altering approach at plate

Club working on solutions to prolonged slump
MLB.com @FlannyMLB

KANSAS CITY -- As the Royals continue to search for answers to their prolonged offensive slump -- they have scored two runs or fewer in nine of their last 10 games before Friday -- some of their hitters have begun altering their approach.

First baseman Eric Hosmer, for example, started trying to go opposite field during the recent series in Chicago. He had an opposite-field single Wednesday, and a 112.9 mph lineout the opposite way.

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KANSAS CITY -- As the Royals continue to search for answers to their prolonged offensive slump -- they have scored two runs or fewer in nine of their last 10 games before Friday -- some of their hitters have begun altering their approach.

First baseman Eric Hosmer, for example, started trying to go opposite field during the recent series in Chicago. He had an opposite-field single Wednesday, and a 112.9 mph lineout the opposite way.

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"I'm just trying to stay on the ball longer," Hosmer said. "Trying to go the other way forces you to stay on the ball longer. You don't pull your head out as quickly."

Royals manager Ned Yost has seen other players try a similar approach.

"You're seeing Esky (Alcides Escobar) do the same thing," Yost said. "It's what you do when you're struggling. It prevents you from flying open with your hips and your body."

Getting too pull-happy almost always is a dangerous thing. And that has been especially true for Royals left-handed hitters, such as Hosmer, Alex Gordon, Brandon Moss and Mike Moustakas.

According to Statcast™, going into Fridays game, Royals' lefties were pulling the ball to the right side on 24 percent of batted balls, the eighth-highest rate in baseball.

What's worse is that Royals' lefties are hitting .231 when they pull the ball -- only three teams' lefties have a worse average.

When Royals' lefties go opposite field, they are hitting .340, 11th best in baseball.

The reward for going "oppo" is clearly there.

Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield, a right-handed hitter, is a big proponent of the approach as well.

"To me, it keeps your hands inside the ball," Merrifield said, "and that way you're not going to roll over with your top hand as much and pull soft grounders. If you go opposite field, you stay on the ball longer, keep your hands in and you can make better contact at times."

No fine for Duffy

Royals left-hander Danny Duffy told MLB.com that as of Friday, he had not heard from the league office about a possible fine for his postgame comment after Tuesday's game. Duffy had been upset about a balk call that he described as "garbage."

"Haven't heard a thing," Duffy said. "Good to go."

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals