Royals ship out struggling Moustakas

Mike Moustakas heads to Triple-A Omaha with a .152 batting average this season.

Ed Zurga/Getty Images

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — General manager Dayton Moore’s response to repeated inquiries about what to do with struggling third baseman Mike Moustakas had been the same the past few weeks:

"We simply don’t have a better alternative," Moore kept saying.

Now, however, it appears the Royals feel they have at least a temporary alternative in Danny Valencia, who has taken the job for the time being.

Manager Ned Yost ditched the platoon between Valencia and Moustakas this week, starting Valencia on Tuesday against a right-hander. Valencia obviously won the audition to be an everyday player as less than 48 hours later, Moustakas, hitting just .152, was finally shipped out to Triple-A Omaha.

The Royals made the announcement Thursday, an off-day before a three-game trip to Anaheim, Calif., to likely curb the media onslaught that occurred last week, when rumors persisted that Moustakas was close to being sent down. Moustakas survived that roster move when the Royals put Omar Infante on the disabled list and recalled Pedro Ciriaco.

MORE ON THE ROYALS

Moustakas then went out and hit a game-winning, three-run double the next day. That offensive resurgence was short-lived, however, as Moose then went 1 for his next 13.

The demotion became almost mandatory as Valencia has gobbled up more playing time. Having Moustakas sit on the bench and eat up a roster spot doesn’t benefit him or the Royals right now.

And as other Royals will attest, being shipped to the minors isn’t the end of the world.

Billy Butler was demoted in 2008 for three weeks.

"For me, it helped me to get sent down that time," Butler told me last week. "And you have to tell yourself that it happens to a lot of players. It happened to me and to Alex (Gordon) and to a lot of great players.

"I bet there are a lot of Hall of Famers who got sent down at some point. For sure, a bunch of All-Star guys did. Very few guys come up here and just stick. Very few."

Gordon was sent down in 2010 after only 38 at-bats that season. He was hitting .194.

"No one wants to get sent down," Gordon told me. "But you can’t be selfish about it. Life goes on ….

"I was upset the first couple of days. But then you reflect on it and you work on getting better. Don’t be too full of yourself. Take it as a challenge."

The next season, Gordon hit .303 with 45 doubles, 23 homers and 87 RBIs. He also won the first of three straight Gold Gloves.


Meanwhile, Valencia, now with his fourth organization, continues to go all-out in an effort to claim the job permanently. Valencia, who has a reputation as a free swinger, instead has shown patience lately. He has drawn four walks in his last five games, and that certainly has not gone unnoticed by Yost.

Valencia drew a huge bases-loaded walk Wednesday night to give the Royals a tack-on run in a 3-1 win.

"That was a big run for us at the time," Yost said. "… Danny has done a good job."

Valencia also has a modest five-game hitting streak and is 10 for his last 24 (.417).

You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email him at jeffreyflanagan6@gmail.com.