Inbox: Can 'secret' to past success help KC now?

Beat reporter Jeffrey Flanagan answers questions from fans

August 27th, 2018
Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost during the first inning of a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays Monday, Aug. 20, 2018, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)Chris O'Meara/AP

KANSAS CITY -- Just 31 games remain for Kansas City this season. The Royals showed something over the weekend by taking two of three from the first-place Indians, and the mood in the clubhouse was on the uptick the past few days.
With that backdrop, let's get right to this week's Inbox:

That's a really good question. What made the 2014-15 Royals so exciting to watch is that they were an "action" team: They didn't strike out, they put the ball in play, they stole bases, they hit and run, they bunted and they put pressure on the defense at all times with the hopes of trying to manufacture runs.
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Today's game, as everyone knows, has changed dramatically. This could be the first time in MLB history when there will be more strikeouts than hits, cumulatively. That's almost unfathomable to former players. No one has noticed this trend more than Kansas City manager Ned Yost, who told me recently, "We need to get back to a team that puts the ball in play."
The Royals, who struck out the fewest times of any team in baseball in 2014 and in '15, are No. 23 now in most strikeouts -- which isn't bad, but it's a far cry from who they once were. Yost, his staff and the organization want to return Kansas City to its past identity as the club continues this rebuild. It will be a priority.

Royals shortstop stunned everyone when he went first-to-home Saturday with a sprint speed of 34.6 feet per second per Statcast™, and did that with a sore hamstring. Mondesi joked (I think) with me after the game that he was "taking it easy" to protect his hamstring. I would love to see a straight-line sprint between Mondesi and Hill.

Well, you'll definitely be seeing more of Mondesi, center fielder , first baseman Ryan O'Hearn, third baseman , outfielders , , , outfielder/DH , and pitchers , , and , among others. You might see right-hander Josh Staumont in the bullpen, too.

They are still rehabbing in Arizona. You won't see either this season.

The Royals' clubhouse is an interesting mix of veterans who have been to the mountaintop (Danny Duffy, , , , , etc.) and young players still dreaming of it. My sense in talking with them is that the veterans are disgusted with the losing record but also in full understanding of the process Kansas City is in. The young guys -- and this is not a slam on them at all -- are trying to prove they belong here.

I'd be stunned if Frank Schwindel isn't added to the 40-man roster and brought up. He wasn't protected last fall and made it through the Rule 5 Draft, but he has been red-hot lately and there are some in the organization who'd like to see him get a taste of the big leagues next month. Yost raved about Schwindel in Spring Training (as he did about O'Hearn) so I think it's likely. Of course, the Royals will have to clear some space on the 40-man roster to do this, and they need to anyway for Soler and left-hander .
As for Nicky Lopez, he is a starter all the way. Lopez doesn't have to go on the 40-man roster until after next season, so there's a chance you won't see him this September. But Kansas City is very high on Lopez -- as Rustin Dodd of The Athletic has pointed out several times, Lopez is a baseball anomaly in today's game because he has walked more (144) than he has struck out (129) in his Minor League career.

I'm told Kaito Yuki has been back and forth from Japan and the States recently, and that he will participate in the instructional league in late September.