04/14/2013 2:20 PM ET
Royals going through batting drop-off after spring
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
KANSAS CITY -- After dominating Spring Training with a .335 batting average, 35 points more than any other Major League club, the Royals were at a modest .266 pace after 11 games of the regular season.
That average ranked 10th in the Majors before Sunday's games. Detroit was leading at .304 after ranking 26th at .259 in Spring Training. So much for those Cactus League and Grapefruit League statistics.
"It's a different mindset for everybody. Spring Training is Spring Training, the season is the season," Royals manager Ned Yost said.
"There are a lot of differences. With professional baseball players, there's just a switch that goes off in them. When the last game of Spring Training ends and the first game of the season [begins], there's just an internal switch that [goes] 'bing.' It's a totally different competitive arena."
It should be noted that, while Yost enjoyed the firepower in Arizona, he consistently downplayed the significance of training camp stats and won-lost records.
Going into Sunday's game against the Blue Jays, his Royals had just two regulars over the .300 mark -- left fielder Alex Gordon at .370 and second baseman Chris Getz at .303.
"Your hope is that maybe you have three or four, or maybe even five guys going at one time," Yost said. "When you've got nine guys going, you're going to be rolling, you can put together a pretty good winning streak if you've got nine guys going. Ideally, you want to have four or five going, but right now we've got two or three. But it's just a matter of time till it flips around and then, boom! It can happen any minute."
The regular season, of course, encompasses an entirely different atmosphere in the weather, playing fields and the stakes involved. And the hitters are seeing top-drawer pitchers, not Minor Leaguers or hangers-on, throughout a game.
"Every team's got good pitching. It's not going to come in here and be a cakewalk," Yost said. "You're going to have to battle and scrape and scratch every single day. But we're in a position this year where we're going to be in contention for those games to scrape and scratch through, because we've got the pitching to match it."
Hosmer returns to lineup Sunday; Moose gets breather
KANSAS CITY -- First baseman Eric Hosmer was back in the Royals' lineup on Sunday, but third baseman Mike Moustakas was out.
Hosmer sat out the first two games of the Blue Jays series to rest a tight right quadriceps muscle. It first bothered him during the World Baseball Classic in March, and manager Ned Yost also gave him breaks during Spring Training.
"Ned and I had talked about it in Spring Training, that he was going to give a couple of days early in the season just so that, in the cold weather before the summer starts, we can get it fully healed and I can get back in there every day," Hosmer said before Sunday's game.
"Cold weather is not the best thing for it and it's an injury that usually takes four to six weeks to fully recover. That's to get it back to 100 percent and it feels good, but we wanted to give it a couple days to rest it just so there are no setbacks later in the season."
Moustakas, who began the season as the No. 4 hitter, was dropped to fifth and then sixth in the previous two games. Finally, on Sunday with his average at .158 after a 0-for-13 skid, he was on the bench.
"There's never been anybody more desiring of victory than him," Yost said. "This kid lives to win baseball games and he lives to be productive, offensively and defensively, and when he starts to struggle a little bit he goes that extra distance to try to keep that from happening. He's a phenomenal competitor, but every once in a while when he gets struggling, it's good to take a step back."
Sitting on Sunday affords Moose two days off, because the Royals are off Monday before a two-game series at Atlanta.
"Let him crank it back up at Atlanta on the road," Yost said.
Elliot Johnson took over for Moustakas at third base.
Right fielder Jeff Francoeur, down to .238 after a 1-for-13 slide (the lone hit was a home run), also was out of Sunday's starting lineup. Lorenzo Cain moved over to right and Jarrod Dyson was in center field, getting in the lineup two days in a row.
• Because the Royals are off on Monday, Jackie Robinson Day, they'll wear number 42 on their uniforms on Tuesday night at Atlanta.
• David Holtzman, in his 10th year with the Royals' public relations department, marked his last day with the club on Sunday. He's joining the San Diego Padres as director of communications.
• Royals pitchers piled up 100 strikeouts in the season's first 11 games, third in the Majors to the Diamondbacks' 106 and the Tigers' 103. With just 28 walks, the Royals had the best strikeout-to-walk ratio at 3.57.
• Left-hander John Lamb, working his way back from Tommy John surgery, notched his first victory since 2011 as Wilmington buried Frederick, 13-1. He pitched five innings and gave up one run and two hits.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.