KANSAS CITY, Mo. – No one is ready to pronounce that Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas suddenly has found his swing again.
But what both Moustakas and the Royals are seeing is steady improvement under the guidance of new hitting coaches George Brett and Pedro Grifol.
Moustakas has hit safely in 10 of his last 11 games, going 16 for 42 (.381) in that span, with six multi-hit games. He also homered last Friday, his first in 124 at-bats.
After watching his average plummet to .177 on June 1, he now has raised it 41 points to a modestly more attractive .218.
The biggest change, Moustakas says, isn’t with anything mechanical in his swing. It’s all about adjusting his mental approach.
“Absolutely, I feel I’m getting pretty settled mentally at the plate,” Moustakas says. “George and Pedro are getting in my head every day on the mental aspect to stay relaxed and stay calm and good things will happen.
“Having them in my ear every minute of every day helps to keep me focused on the right things. Pedro has it scripted out each day what I need to work on and that really helps. It seems like there’s a plan every day that if I stick to, it will all be good.”
Rather than break down the mechanics of his swing, Brett and Grifol chose to try and build Moustakas’ confidence with a positive approach.
“That’s exactly what they did,” Moustakas says. “Instead of working on my weaknesses, I’m working on my strengths now. I’m a pull hitter. That’s how I hit. Instead of trying to get me to hit to left field, we’re working on the things I do best, which is pull the ball to right. That’s what I do best.
“I can still hit to left field, but it’s not my strength. So the focus is on my strength. It sounds like a little thing but it really helped me free things up. My goal is to hit it well and drive it, and that’s to right field. And then if I have to, I can still hit it to left, which I’ve done for some hits lately.
“When they started talking to me about working on my strengths and not my weaknesses, it just clicked for me.”
And now Moustakas, who continued to help the team with his defense during his horrid slump, now feels he can help out offensively as well.
“Let me tell you: That’s a great feeling,” he says. “Anything you can do to help the team win. But now maybe I’m helping from both offense and defense and that feels really good. It helps me sleep at night a little better.
“It’s been a long battle just to get back this far.”
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org