4/6/2014 8:15 P.M. ET
Moose, Aoki get breather from starting lineup
Yost takes opportunity to get Valencia, Maxwell action vs. lefty Sale
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
KANSAS CITY -- Third baseman Mike Moustakas, 0-for-15 in the Royals' first four games, got a break from the starting lineup on Sunday, but manager Ned Yost expressed confidence he'll get in gear soon.
Yost used Danny Valencia, a right-handed hitter, at third base against White Sox left-hander Chris Sale, and also had righty Justin Maxwell in right field to replace another left-handed batter, Nori Aoki.
"Does Nori need a day today? No. Nori handles lefties well," Yost said. "Moose could use a day off, especially against a guy like Sale, but Nori doesn't need one. The thing is just to try to pick spots to get Danny in there and Maxie in there."
Yost figures to have trouble creating playing time for his bench players.
"It's tougher on our team," he said. "Some teams, like Detroit, have got kind of platoon situations that keep their bench involved. We don't have that. All of our guys are just about everyday players so it's hard to keep your bench guys going."
Maxwell was used to replace Aoki in right instead of left fielder Alex Gordon "because that's where he's more natural," Yost said. "and because Gordy's got history against Sale."
Despite Moustakas' slow start, Yost is not discouraged.
"Moose hit .450 in Spring Training, led all of baseball in RBIs. That's more of the hitter he is," Yost said. "I mean, he's not a .450 hitter, but he hit lefties, he hit righties, and he's seeing pitches which is key. He'll get his hits."
Moustakas, the skipper noted, has become much more selective in swinging at pitches.
"In his best year, he saw like 3.6 pitches per at-bat. He's seeing over five pitches per at-bat now," Yost said. "That big walk that he had yesterday -- that run-scoring walk -- he wouldn't have taken that walk last year. So, he's definitely making improvements."
Although Moustakas this year is making a concentrated effort to hit the ball to all fields, so far opposing teams are shifting their defenses and playing him like an extreme pull hitter.
"Until he proves that he can go the opposite way like he did so well in Spring Training, they're going to continue to shift. They have more of a track record on him, more at-bats under his belt, for them to make that kind of a move," Yost said. "It does get into your head a little bit, but I think it's more playing the percentages off the data they have in his past."
It'll be a relief when Moustakas does break out.
"He just needs to get that first hit to get going," Yost said. "He's pressing a little bit, but not nearly as much as he did on any occasion last year. He's going to be OK."
Chen delivers smooth effort against White Sox
KANSAS CITY -- Like well-aged wine, left-hander Bruce Chen was vintage stuff in his first start on Saturday in what became a 4-3 win over the White Sox.
"That's the Bruce Chen we've always known," first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "That's the way he's been. He gets guys frustrated out there and hits his spots all the time, mixes speeds up and he's pounding strikes. When you're a pitcher with no walks and you have our defense out there, you're going to have good days."
Chen not only had no walks, but he struck out seven in his 6 1/3 innings.
"He was great. He just pitched," manager Ned Yost said. "Changed speeds, his 87-mph fastball looked like it was 98 because he used it right and his changeup was great."
The White Sox even used Dayan Viciedo in the No. 3 lineup spot because he'd been 10-for-29 with three homers against Chen. But Chen held him to a single in three at-bats with a strikeout and a popup.
"He just does what Bruce does. It's just amazing that at this point in his career, he's as productive as he is," Yost said. "It's a tremendous work ethic, a lot of homework that he does."
Ventura lightens mood with bullpen session
KANSAS CITY -- While Royals setup man Wade Davis was struggling through the eighth inning against the White Sox on Saturday, Kauffman Stadium fans saw hot prospect Yordano Ventura throwing in the bullpen.
Was he warming up for a possible relief role? Not quite. Ventura was merely told to do a light side session in preparation for his scheduled starting assignment on Tuesday night against the Rays.
Unintentionally, Ventura's workout did accomplish something for Royals manager Ned Yost.
"When Ventura was throwing," Yost said, smiling, "at least somebody was up so the 25 fans that sit behind the dugout screaming at me all the time: 'Get somebody up!' -- I didn't have to hear 'em."
Yost isn't worried about Royals' lack of homers
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals' next home run will be their first of the season.
They've gone through their first five games without a home run. That's a franchise record for the most games at the start of a season without a blast. And the Royals are the only team in the Majors without a homer.
Among other things, of course, the Royals have had to contend with stellar pitchers the likes of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Chris Sale in three of those five games.
"Not a bit," manager Ned Yost said. "We play in a big park. Our goal coming in here against Chicago was to win the series. I would have loved to have swept, but we accomplished our goal by winning the series and now we move on."
Last season, the Royals had the fewest home runs in the American League, 112, exactly 100 less than the Orioles' Major League high of 212.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.