Kansas City, Mo. Ned Yost is asking long-suffering Kansas City Royals fans to wait a little longer.
In spite of their league-worst 36-52 record going into Friday night’s game against Detroit, the manager feels certain better days are ahead.
“You look at our club and look where we are in terms of our defense as a whole, our base-running as a whole, our bullpen, our starting pitching and our base-running, and we’ve made a lot of progress,” said Yost, who’s halfway through his first full season as KC manager. “We just have to find ways to get over that hump, and experience will help that a lot.”
Yost points to the development of young position players such as first baseman Eric Hosmer, shortstop Alcides Escobar and third baseman Mike Moustakas as sure signs that Kansas City’s slow, painstaking program of building from the bottom up is bearing fruit.
Also encouraging is rookie left-hander Danny Duffy, who went six strong innings in a 3-1 loss to the Tigers on Thursday night in his 10th major league start.
Hosmer, who was tearing up Triple-A pitching before he was called up this year from Triple-A, is hitting .319 in Kauffman Stadium and hit .333 on the team’s most recent road trip.
Moustakas, called up on June 10, drove in the Royals’ lone run on Thursday night with an infield out but also failed in two key situations with runners in scoring positions. Each time, he was facing a pitcher he’d never seen before.
“A base hit there and we win the ballgame,” Yost said. “But there’s going to come a time when we’re going to pick those base hits up and we’re going to win those ballgames, those close games. We’ve played a lot of one-run and two-run games. We’re close. Things happen fast, especially when you get close. Hopefully, we will turn the corner little bit in the second half and start making some forward progress in the win-loss record. But where we are as a team today, we’re better than we were last year in my opinion and continuing to get better each week.”
Yost was in Milwaukee and Atlanta when those organizations made similar transitions and became competitive. He’s seen what happens when victory-starved organizations start to lose patience.
“You can’t allow passion to overcome your patience. That’s the biggest mistake you’re going to make in this type of deal. When you start to get frustrated and start to make moves out of desperation because you’re not winning games right now, it’s a mistake. I told our coaches at the beginning of the year this is going to be the toughest year for us because we’re going to show signs and there will be times when we struggle and it’s going to be frustrating because we’re going to really start to take strides forward.”