KANSAS CITY -- Rookie Whit Merrifield certainly has made an impact with an adoring Royals fan base.
Even more important, Merrifield has made a statement to management that he belongs in the big leagues. Merrifield knocked his first Major League homer and his first triple in the Royals' 2-1 win over the Indians on Monday night.
"I just look at Whit ... and I just told [GM] Dayton [Moore], 'This kid is not a flash in the pan,'" manager Ned Yost said. "His swing works up here. It's very compact. It's very short. He covers the plate really, really well. He has a good sense of timing on breaking pitches. He just gives you really, really good at-bats."
Merrifield, who is hitting .330, now has 10 multi-hit games in 21 career starts. And it might be this one he'll remember for a long time.
Told that management doesn't believe he's a flash in the pan, Merrifield looked puzzled.
"I don't know what that means, but I guess it's a compliment," he said, smiling. "I wasn't planning on coming here and then going back [to the Minors]. You want to come and play well and play like you know you're capable of playing. Been fortunate enough to get off to a good start and make a good first impression. And I'm glad I'm not a flash in the pan."
Merrifield got things started for the Royals with an opposite-field triple in the first inning that brought Yost out of his seat in the dugout.
"The opposite-field triple, that's the first base hit that we've had in a 3-2 count since we went on the road," Yost said. "We were like 0-for-12 with four walks. We hadn't been very productive in that spot. It was an opportunity there to get us on the board early."
As fun as the triple was, it didn't even compare to Merrifield's first homer that sailed nearly over the Royals' bullpen, traveling an estimated 409 feet from the plate, according to Statcast™.
"The triple was good," Merrifield said. "It felt good to stay on that pitch and hit it that way hard. But the homer was pretty cool.
"Two strikes on me. I wasn't looking for anything there. It's just kind of 'See it and hit it.' It's just one of those where I just kind of reacted and got the barrel on it and backspun out of there."
Merrifield also was in the middle of three big double-play turns, including one in the eighth inning and one in the ninth.
"All three of them were big," Yost said. "Every double play that we had was huge. Whit's done a nice job. He's come up and he's manned a number of positions quite adequately. Done a really nice job at second base as well as third base and left field."