7/7/2014 7:40 P.M. ET
Moustakas working to beat defensive shifts
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
ST. PETERSBURG -- So why doesn't Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas punch more balls into left field to beat the extreme right-field shift most clubs use against him?
Manager Ned Yost noted that one reason is that he's a left-handed hitter who happens to be a right-handed thrower. Because Moustakas' strong hand is lower on the bat, he tends to pull the ball into right field.
"So his top hand is not as strong as if he was a right-handed hitter. His dominant hand is his bottom hand," Yost said. "So when you get pitches out there, your top hand has be able to, boom, hit that way."
Moustakas did stroke an outside pitch for a single into left field to beat the shift during the Cleveland series.
"So, yeah, he's working on it," Yost said.
Moustakas agreed that it's much more difficult for him than, say, Eric Hosmer who is left-handed both hitting and throwing.
"People really don't think about that stuff," Moustakas said. "Hoz is left and left and his left hand is the strongest, so he's able to drive the ball that way [to left field] with his top hand. That's what makes me a good pull hitter, that my bottom hand is dominant."
Because of that, teams use that extreme shift.
"That's exactly why," he said.
Salvy gearing up for first All-Star Game start
ST. PETERSBURG -- Salvador Perez says he's excited about getting to start the All-Star Game on July 15 at Target Field as the American League catcher, but probably not more than his mother, Yilda.
"She's happy, she's coming to Minneapolis," he said.
Perez's mother, in fact, moved up her plans to return from Venezuela to visit her son so she could see the All-Star Game.
Closer Greg Holland, who'll join Perez and left fielder Alex Gordon on the AL roster, called the starting assignment well-deserved.
"The only bad part is, I told him he was going to have to catch all nine in case I got to throw," Holland said.
In last year's game at New York's Citi Field, all three Royals entered the game in the seventh and Perez caught Holland as he faced two batters.
"He's a special player, defensively and offensively. He's really just scratching the surface, as far as being a young guy," Holland said. "You don't even realize he's 24, it seems like he's a veteran the way he manages a game, the way he controls the running, the way he blocks balls. I think his capability hitting is kind of undervalued because he's such a good defensive catcher. The kid can really hit, too."
Perez got the starting nod from his fellow players because the fan-elected starter, the Orioles' Matt Wieters, is out for the season. The last Royal to start an All-Star Game was right fielder Jermaine Dye in 2000. The only other Royals catcher to start an All-Star Game was Darrell Porter in 1979.
"It's a special moment for him and it's great that our team is starting to get recognized individually," Holland said.
Gordon's brother playing with indy T-Bones
ST. PETERSBURG -- Left fielder Alex Gordon's youngest brother, Derek Gordon, is also playing professionally in Kansas City -- with the independent league T-Bones.
"He wants to keep playing. Hopefully, he can make a step up from independent ball, but right now it's the T-Bones," Gordon said.
Derek, who pitched for Park University in suburban KC, didn't get selected in the recent First-Year Player Draft, so he signed with the T-Bones.
"We were hoping like a lot of families do, but not everyone gets that opportunity, so he's trying to find a way to get in," Gordon said.
Derek's first start for the T-Bones resulted in a seven-inning shutout over Sioux Falls, 10-0, in a doubleheader.
"Tall, lanky kid. He's like 6-4, skinny. A pitcher's body," his brother said.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.