Will May be better for the Kansas City Royals? They’re glad to be past April

Royals in May

Will May be better? It can’t be much worse than April was for the Royals.

When the Kansas City Royals hit a major league-worst .210 in April, you can expect a bad month. When you add to that a .270 on-base percentage and a .336 slugging percentage, also, all worst in the bigs, you know that is going to add up to a lot of losses.

When you score a big league-worst 63 runs, 24 fewer than the next club, it is going to be a long, long, month.

When your bullpen, once a strength, is 2-7 with a 5.67 ERA and with more blown saves, four, than saves, three, and you know it must be horrible month.

It was. Ending with a nine-game losing streak and the American League Central caboose.

“Obviously, the frustration level is pretty high,” Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said.

Players were pressing, trying to hit eight-run homers, instead of the Royals’ keep-the-line-moving philosophy that carried them to back-to-back World Series appearances in 2014-15.

“I think everybody does,” Hosmer said. “I think that’s why when certain situations happen and it doesn’t get done, you see the frustration level is pretty high. I think what we show on the field is obviously the effort’s there.

“We might not get it done, but at the end of the day when things cool down, I think we’ve all been through these struggles individually as an individual and team together. We know there’s nothing more you can do than just keep grinding and take it one day at a time.”

The clubhouse, however, remained sane.

“That’s part of having a lot of experience on the team,” Hosmer said. “Not only the guys that have been here, but some of the new guys that have around the league for a long time and especially the guys that just won championships last year with the (Chicago) Cubs.

“I think we all know at this point of time or at any point of time during the season you can get hot. In this game, that’s what it takes, maybe one game or one play to happen and you go on a two-month streak.”

The Royals won their May opener, so Hosmer is optimistic it could be a turn-around month.

“April is behind us,” Hosmer said. “It was a bad month, an awful month honestly. Hopefully we can get hot in the month of May when we’re playing a lot of division games.”

Hosmer is one of five Royals that can become a free agent after this season. But he insists the contract and free agency talk has not affected him or his teammates.

“Honestly, I don’t think it has affected us in here,” he said. “We’re all continuing to grind the same way we would no matter what year our contracts are up. It’s frustrating because we want to be a winning team; we want to be back in the playoffs like we were the last couple of years. It’s just not happening right now. So we can’t continue to just sit around and think about what’s going on. We’ve got to figure out how to fix it on the field.

“The guys are putting in the work. The guys are down in the cages doing what they need to do and are preparing well for the game. We just need it to actually change when we’re out there performing.”

Left-hander Jason Vargas is one of the Royals’ quintet eligible for free agency after the season. He believes the team is capable of putting together a stretch to get back to the postseason.

“I think we’re capable of putting together solid baseball games overall with the unit we have in here,” Vargas said. “I don’t think it has to do with one aspect or the other. When we’re playing good baseball and making solid plays and throwing the ball solid and having solid at-bats, we’re a really good ball club.

“These first few weeks we haven’t shown that as consistently as we’d like. The fact of the matter is the talent in this room is no different than when we won the World Series in ’15 and when we went in ’14. It’s just a matter of putting good games together and getting on a roll and feeding off each other.”

Royals manager Ned Yost is confident the bad April will be long forgotten by August.

“These guys have all been through it,” Yost said. “They’ve been through 2013 and 2014 when we’ve gone through these things before. They’ve been through it last year. They all have the knowledge that sooner or later they’ll get through it.

“They keep working hard at it. They stay focused and stay positive. I think as a group, they’re frustrated with the start we’ve had. They know if they continue to work the process they’ll work through it.”

Expect general manager Dayton Moore to remain patient. Don’t expect any May or June blockbusters, dealing veteran stars for topflight prospects.

For more coverage of the Royals visit http://kcsportspaper.com/category/pro-teams/

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Article by Alan Eskew

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