Ned Yost media session: May 21, 2014
The Royals head into the series finale vs. Chicago with two impact players – infielder Omar Infante and catcher Salvador Perez – on the mend. Perez is day-to-day and expected back shortly, but manager Ned Yost says Infante’s recovery is on schedule, as well.
“Swinging he’s been fine,” said Yost. “Where it’s bothering him a little bit, or it has in the last couple of days, is bending over to catch ground balls. But he’s made really good improvements there. He came out early, ran the bases, felt really good. So he will take some ground balls on the field today and we’ll see where he’s at.”
Veteran backstop Brett Hayes handled the receiving duties in the absence of Perez on Tuesday, but was replaced by Francisco Pena in the ninth inning after being lifted for a pinch-hitting Mike Moustakas in the bottom of the eighth. Pena, making his Major League debut, also threw out his first would-be base stealer, cutting down Adam Eaton at second base.
“He’s got very soft hands,” Yost said of Pena. “He receives the ball well. In spring training, he did everything well. When I first saw him, he looked like a young catcher to me. But as spring training went on, I became more impressed with his ability to receive, I became more impressed with his throwing ability – that we got a little glimpse of last night – and the way he calls the game. He’s got life and energy like Salvy does back there.”
As for Moustakas, he popped up to third in his lone plate appearance of the evening, dropping his batting average to .152 (19-for-125). Danny Valencia will get his second consecutive start at third base tonight, but the plan for renewing Moustakas’s offensive prowess remains the same.
“He’s the first one in the clubhouse, the first one in the cage with Pedro [Grifol] and they’ve got their drills that they work on tirelessly,” said Yost. “He takes more swings than anyone on this team.”
By Kolby Paxton