Ned Yost media session: June 23, 2014
After spending a 10-game stretch as the hottest team in baseball, the Royals have hit a rough patch, following 10 straight wins with four straight losses and a three-game sweep at the hands of the Seattle Mariners. Manager Ned Yost does not yet see any cause for concern, however.
“We really had a good game against [Hisashi] Iwakuma,” said Yost. “That’s a guy we haven’t scored off of in two years and we score five off of him, [but] Holly (Greg Holland) has a little hiccup – and that’s something he hasn’t had in a long, long time. The other three games out of the four, you lose 2-1. But if you go back and look at those, one well-placed hit over the course of any of those games, and we could have been 4-0. So you don’t go too crazy right now.”
First baseman Eric Hosmer has been scuffling individually, of late, with just three hits in his last 28 at-bats. He will move into the two-spot in the order this evening, while Omar Infante slides down the sixth spot.
“It’s a little bit of timing,” said Yost. “For his last 100 at bats he’s hitting about .220, but the thing about Hos, and he showed it last year, for his next 100 at bats he could hit .360. Last year he took off when we put him in the two spot, so we’ll slide him back in there right now and let him ride that out for a while.”
By moving Infante down in the order, Yost hopes to create more RBI opportunities for the 32-year-old second baseman.
“He’s been doing a really, really good job, as good as anybody we’ve got with runners in scoring position,” said Yost. “But he hasn’t had many opportunities out of the two-hole. The way that Salvy and Billy and Gordy have been getting on base, we’ve dropped him down to sixth to see if he can drive in more runs. We think that his approach with runners in scoring position is as good as anybody we’ve got on this club.”
With Nori Aoki hitting the disabled list, a third Royal has been displaced from his typical slot in the batting order, with outfielder Lorenzo Cain assuming lead-off duties. But Yost says the club does not want Cain to change his approach.
“We don’t want him changing anything,” said Yost. “We want him to continue swinging the bat like he’s been doing. It’s kind of nice having a lead-off hitter that’s got some speed, got some power, that’s got a real nice on-base percentage over the last three weeks to hopefully get on base for guys to drive in.”
Nothing has changed for Alcides Escobar, who will play shortstop and bat eighth, escaping without serious injury after being plunked on the shin by a pitch in yesterday’s game.
“He’s a little sore, but no problem,” said Yost. “I know he feels much, much better today. The swelling has gone down some, it’s a bruise. Luckily it was a curveball and not a hard slider or a fastball off of that shin. I looked at it his leg and it looks much, much better than it did yesterday. Still a little sore, but more than playable.”
With the Los Angeles Dodgers in town for some interleague action, many fans will find intrigue with the opportunity to watch Cuban sensation Yasiel Puig roam the outfield for the visitors. Yost said that the fans won’t be the only ones excited to see Puig in action.
“He’s a tremendous offensive player, he’s very, very athletic,” said Yost. “He plays with a lot of energy, plays with a lot of passion. He’s a very strong individual. He’s very aggressive in the box. We’re all excited to watch him.”
By Kolby Paxton