ANAHEIM, Calif. — The switch flipped for Royals manager Ned Yost last week at Kauffman Stadium as he watched Mike Moustakas appear increasingly helpless at the plate. To Yost, after weeks without improvement, Moustakas’ demeanor had begun to match his meager production..
“You do this job long enough, you can read players through their body language,” Yost said. “His confidence just wasn’t there.”
The team made the decision to demote Moustakas on Wednesday night. They shipped him back to Class AAA Omaha, with the hope of rejuvenating him. He departed the majors with a .152 batting average and a .543 on-base plus slugging percentage.
General manager Dayton Moore framed the maneuver as a “reset.” Yost concurred in that assessment.
“His mechanics are fine,” Yost said. “You watch him take batting practice, and he just kills the ball. It’s just one of those things where he’s got to get his confidence back, get comfortable, start having success and start producing again.”
For now, Danny Valencia will be the starter at third base. Jimmy Paredes will back him up. Paredes could also play some at second base, while the team waits for Omar Infante’s return.
Infante began a rehabilitation assignment in Omaha on Friday night, but he played as the designated hitter. The team needs to see how his lower back handles outings in the field before he returns to the big-league roster.
Barring a setback, Infante will rejoin the team before Moustakas. As is customary, the Royals afforded him 72 hours to report to the minors. Some team officials hoped he would use the time to clear his head. Instead, a clean-shaven Moustakas arrived in Omaha on Friday afternoon.
In a brief interview with reporters there, he hit on a series of talking points. His focus was “figuring out my swing.” He indicated the involved parties would re-evaluate the situation in a few days.
“You never want to go backwards,” Moustakas said. “But every now and then, you have to take a step backwards to go forward.”
Before he left, Moustakas engaged in a lengthy conversation with Eric Hosmer. The team understands how vital Moustakas is to its future.
“When you look at this offense, you look at the potential we have, he’s a big part of it,” Hosmer said. “During spring training, when everyone was talking about how good we were, he was the main part of it. We can see how deep and how dangerous our lineup is with him in there.”
Salvador Perez (inflammation in right hand) took swings before the game off a tee and also took part in batting practice. But Yost was unsure if he would play this weekend.
“This is something that I don’t want to deal with for the next month,” Yost said. “I want him to be in a real good spot when he comes back. We don’t want to rush this thing. A couple extra days will save you a couple extra weeks.”
Chen takes it slow
Bruce Chen (bulging disk in lower back) threw a bullpen session on Friday afternoon. He hoped to throw a session of batting practice on Monday.
Maxwell to Omaha
Justin Maxwell will remain in the Royals organization. The team designated him for assignment last week to make room on the roster for reliever Casey Coleman. Maxwell, a 30-year-old outfielder, cleared waivers and accepted an assignment to Class AAA Omaha.