Royals also promote Bueno, place Valencia on DL and option Brooks
TORONTO -- It didn't take long for Mike Moustakas to get back to the Kansas City roster.
Just 10 days after being optioned to Triple-A Omaha, the Royals recalled Moustakas and he played in Sunday's 4-0 loss to the Blue Jays. The left-handed-hitting third baseman went 0-for-3 against left-hander Mark Buehrle but hit two balls hard.
"Moose looked great," manager Ned Yost said. "He had some great at-bats, made some great defensive plays at third base. Nice to have him back."
The Royals also placed third baseman Danny Valencia on the 15-day disabled list, recalled left-handed reliever Francisley Bueno from Omaha and sent right-handed starter Aaron Brooks back to the Pacific Coast League club.
Moustakas, with a wide smile, was in the Rogers Centre visitors' clubhouse early on Sunday morning. He's ready to put the early part of the season and his .152 average behind him and start anew.
"The first half is over. I went down, took a little time off and now I'm up here, and I'm hitting .000," he said.
Moustakas, in eight games with the Storm Chasers, hit .355 (11-for-31) with three doubles, a homer and five RBIs. And that was after an 0-for-7 start.
"I felt great. I was able to go down and kind of relax, take a deep breath and just go back to being me. Just seeing the ball and hitting it," Moustakas said.
Moustakas was in 40 games previously with the Royals, but struggled mightily, and general manager Dayton Moore and Yost decided he needed time in the Minor Leagues when his confidence appeared to sag. Moustakas had just 19 hits in 125 at-bats, although 12 of them were for extra bases, and he had 17 RBIs.
"He just needed a break," Yost said. "He got it."
With Omaha, Moustakas re-established his connection with hitting coach Tommy Gregg, with whom he worked when he was hitting up a storm in the Minor Leagues.
"I was able to get some good work with him and get back to doing things I used to do," Moustakas said.
That would involve hitting the ball hard and often.
Moustakas had a .347 average and 21 homers in 66 games in 2010 for Double-A Northwest Arkansas and then a .292 mark and a total of 25 homers in 107 games in the 2010-11 seasons with Omaha.
What was his secret of success?
"Really just seeing the ball and hitting it. Not trying to do too much, not thinking about too much," Moustakas said. "Just getting out there and seeing the white ball, and hitting the white ball. Just kept it really simple, and it worked for me."
Ditching that nasty habit of thinking was a big help during Moustakas' Omaha hiatus.
"I started thinking so much less and I felt so much more relaxed at the plate, and I saw the ball really good. And I felt really good," he said.
For all the talk about Moustakas hitting more to the opposite field instead of pulling the ball so often to the right side, he sidetracked that to a non-issue during his Omaha getaway.
"I wasn't trying to do anything. Wherever the ball was thrown, that's what I was trying to hit," he said. "I was trying to keep it simple as I could. Just hit the ball hard, it doesn't matter where it goes, don't try to force it anywhere. Just go up there and make solid contact, and what happens, happens. And it worked for me. I was able to drive the ball to right, drive it to left and I felt good."
One of the first things Moustakas did on Sunday was connect with Dale Sveum, who took over as Royals hitting coach from Pedro Grifol during his absence.
Valencia aggravated a strained muscle in his left hand in his second at-bat during Saturday's 12-2 loss to the Blue Jays although he stayed in the game.
"During his second at-bat, it was really hurting," Yost said. "But he had to just wear it. I wasn't going to put Omar [Infante] in that game."
If Valencia had come out, the Royals would have had to put Infante, who was resting his back, at second base while shifting Pedro Ciriaco to third.
Valencia originally injured his left hand at Anaheim two days after Moustakas left the team and has been able to play only sparingly since. Even before Valencia aggravated his injury, Yost indicated the Royals were getting close to bringing Moustakas back. As it was, he was in the Minors the minimum 10 days required after being optioned.
Bueno had been out since April 7 when he sustained a sprained left finger. He'd been on injury rehabilitation assignment with Omaha, going 0-2 with a 5.52 ERA in nine appearances. His presence came at a good time because on Saturday the bullpen's only left-hander, Tim Collins, was used for three innings in relief.
The extended Collins appearance was made necessary because Brooks, called up to start in Yordano Ventura's place, failed to last out the first inning against the Blue Jays in what became a 12-2 pounding. Brooks gave up seven runs in his two-thirds of an inning.
Moustakas arrived at Toronto after doing some extensive traveling. At 1:30 a.m. CT on Saturday, he boarded the Storm Chasers' bus in Oklahoma City for a seven-hour ride to Round Rock, Texas. After a few hours sleep at Round Rock, he hopped a plane to Dallas and flew from there to Toronto.
"We've got a great team here," he said. "We haven't been playing our best baseball and there's just so much potential on this team that we're going to break out of it this year. It's going to be a lot of fun to be a part of and be able to contribute a little bit."