Call your uncle, dude. Like the rest of us, he’s getting worried about you.
“The new coaches that came in, they’re allowing him to buckle over. His feet are wrong. And it’s driving me nuts that they’re allowing him to do that,” former Major League hitting instructor Tom Robson tells FOX Sports Kansas City when asked about his nephew, who was hitting .187 before Thursday night’s tilt in St. Louis.
“I’d love to get a hold of him again, but he hasn’t gotten over here. He’s a gifted kid, but he’s doing a lot of things that just don’t work. Eric (Hosmer), too. They’re both doing things that aren’t right. It’s a shame.”
Fans have some other, less family-friendly words for it, but you get the gist. Whether it’s Robson watching the feed from his home in Arizona, or a Royals lifer watching from the couch, slugging percentages are down, and blood pressures are up. Way, way up.
Since the 2012 All-Star Break, the 24-year-old Moustakas is hitting .183 (76-415) with nine home runs. The Royals re-assigned hitting coaches Jack Maloof and Andre David on Thursday morning, just a day after Maloof’s comments on FOXSportsKansasCity.com were savaged by bloggers and sports talk radio hosts across the metro. Royals icon George Brett was introduced as the club’s new interim hitting instructor on Thursday afternoon.
“I sure wish he had better help,” Robson allows. “They’ve got a new coach (in Brett). I hope they do great.”
Robson has walked a mile in those cleats himself; he served as the New York Mets’ hitting coach from 1997-2000 and again in 2002, and worked with the Cincinnati Reds in 2003, the same year he authored the book “The Hitting Edge.”
Former American League batting champ John Olerud is one of his most loyal disciples, and the ex-big-leaguer — Robson got cups of coffee with the Texas Rangers in 1974 and ‘75 — says he recently counseled former Royal Raul Ibanez, now back with the Seattle Mariners.
But meanwhile, the one player he’d like most to work with — Moustakas — hasn’t talked to him in nearly two years.
“It’s never happened, at all,” Robson says. “I know what he’s doing wrong, and I haven’t talked to him about it. He hasn’t even called.
“And whatever they think they’re doing with him, they’re way out of line. I just don’t know what they’re telling him to do. I just don’t know their guys (Maloof and Davis).”
But Robson knows mechanics, and he’s not crazy about what he’s seen out of the Maloof/Davis tag team — or, for that matter, the work of their predecessor, Kevin Seitzer. He’s made a mental checklist of things he’d change to try and get Moustakas going again: For starters, he’s noticed his nephew is bending over more than in years past, often to his detriment. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
“Mikey was so far away from the plate … he’s that far out, they had him trying to hit grounders to the right side instead of trying to hit a line drive and take the pitcher’s head off,” Robson says. “That top hand rolls over so many times, and (that’s why) you see so many grounders that roll foul, or to the right side.
“Seitzer had them hitting the ball on the ground, and some other stupid stuff. And I don’t know why they would do that … (when) he gets in there, the hands are supposed to come in flying last. He doesn’t get his body in a situation to do that, either (because) he’s squatting down, bending down, or leaning down. Once he does that, he’s done. He’s completely done.
“Both him and Eric, if you watch, when they swing, both their heads, they quickly look up to see where the ball was (going). And it isn’t there, because they didn’t hit the damn thing. He’s really gifted, and I can tell, just by looking at him, he’s really frustrated with himself. He’s getting mad.”
But despite mounting frustrations on all sides, he says he hopes the Royals let his nephew work out the kinks at the big-league level rather than send him down to the minors for a reboot.
“They’ve got to give him a chance to get that thing out of his head and straighten him out a little bit,” Robson says. “And that hasn’t happened. I think he’ll snap out of it as some point.”
The former hitting instructor says he’s made efforts to reach out and stem the tide. He met with Moustakas for a short session during spring training 2012, just to go over fundamentals. They scheduled a similar session during 2013, Robson says, but the Royals’ third baseman never turned up.
“His dad said he’d (told him), ‘I can’t wait to go see Uncle Tom.’ And he didn’t show up one time,” Robson says.
For whatever reason, Uncle Tom says, the silent treatment has continued.
“Every time I called him, he never answered the phone,” Robson says. “It’s tough.”
And getting tougher by the week.
You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org