THE MODERATOR: We're going to get started with the Royals manager Ned Yost.
Q. Ned, can you just talk about Gore over Gomes and what it brings you as a manager to have that speed?
NED YOST: If you're breaking down our lineup, you're looking late, you know how speed is important for us, and we have Jarrod Dyson who is a weapon off the bench. We identified six spots in our lineup that we could run late, eighth or ninth inning for a rundown or tied to put us into scoring position.
The one spot that we would hit in is if we ran for Morales and it came back around again so we opted to go with the speed over the bat this round.
Q. You said there was how many spots where you'd be willing to run for guys?
NED YOST: Six.
Q. So it makes sense to have the three guys?
NED YOST: Yeah, to have, you know -- Gore and Dyson are, you know, top-notch base stealers. Paulo is one of the fastest guys in the league, and it just gives us that speed element.
Q. I imagine having Paulo allows you to theoretically run for Gordo or Rios. You run Gore for one of them, you could use Paulo --
NED YOST: It depends. If it's Gore or Rios, it would probably be Dyson, you know, because we won't have to burn two players in one position.
Q. Really, you're not going to pinch-hit for Mous or Gordon. There wasn't really a lot of value for Gomes --
NED YOST: We don't have a team that we pinch-hit for. All of our lefties hit well against lefties. So we don't really have a spot that we can identify as a pinch-hitting situation late in the game.
I mean, all of our guys have been really productive. We think our lineup's really deep, and it's more about running than it is pinch-hitting.
Q. Hi, Ned. It's finally here. And when you get to this point, is there just an anxiousness, a butterfly? I mean, you've been waiting all year for this positioning, giving guys rest, winning the division. Now you're here.
NED YOST: I want to say it's butterflies or anxiousness. I just think it's anticipation more than anything else. We've been waiting for this time. I think everybody's excited for it to finally get started. We've got a real confident group in there, and I think everybody has been just wanting to get to September and to this point.
That's fun, when you've got a team that starts Spring Training with the playoffs in mind, that's what they've had their eye on since the first day of Spring Training. To finally get here, it's a little bit like Christmas.
Q. Hey, Ned. Is there any special challenge or difference between having a 12-game lead and trying to be prepared as opposed to coming in full-steam ahead through a Wild Card. You've been through both. In Atlanta, how is it different?
NED YOST: It was a lot different because with a big lead, you were able to rest guys periodically throughout September. You were able to monitor your bullpen usage more conservatively than you would have in a situation where you're neck and neck going down to the wire with it.
So a lot of teams that won their divisions going in to the last week, they tried to give guys opportunities to catch their breath and heal up a little bit or take a little bit of a break.
But we were able to do that all September. So it was easier for us in that respect so that when we get to this point, everybody's 100 percent ready to go.
Q. Did you guys send anyone down to the complex?
NED YOST: Yeah, we did. We sent Cuthbert down there. We sent Almonte down there. We sent Alexander down there and Coleman down there just to continue to stay ready.
Q. How is Lorenzo's knee?
NED YOST: Fine, feels good.
Q. Four days work?
NED YOST: Yeah. He says he feels much, much better.
Q. You mentioned being able to use September the way you wanted to with relievers and everything. How about the ability to then sort of scrap the Wild Card out, play important games the last week. Did that regenerate what you had going at all, or did that provide an opportunity to play meaningful games just before the postseason? Was that important?
NED YOST: Yeah, I think it was important. Again, our guys have been focused all year long. They've played with energy all year long, and for to us kind of ramp it up and gain just a little momentum, it doesn't really mean much. We won our last five games going into the end of the season. We were able to get home-field advantage from that.
But it's just kind of getting your mind reset on winning baseball games. So it helps a little bit, but in the grand scheme of things, I don't think it really helps a lot.
Q. Ned, in the time Don Wakamatsu's been here, what do you feel like he's brought to the club? What do you feel like his strengths are? Do you feel like he's put himself in a position to manage again soon here?
NED YOST: This has been, for me, the last two years has been probably the most fun that I've had managing because I've got a coaching staff that I just love being around.
We can communicate very effectively. They'll, at times, step up and give me their opinion when my opinion is different, which I love that about them.
But he just brings experience. Ex-Major League manager, as well as Dale Sveum. Pedro Grifol has been huge. Dave Eiland. All of them have been very, very beneficial not only to the individual areas that they coach, because each and every one of them can communicate. The players trust and respect their knowledge and their experience and their ability to communicate with them. They listen really, really well to them all.
But they've helped me out tremendously. And most of it's in-game stuff. Before, where I just sit in the corner and manage the game, now we sit kind of in a huddle and manage the game together and bouncing ideas off of them, they're bouncing ideas off of me. So it makes it a lot more enjoyable for me.
Q. Playing in a pitcher friendly park, your club was seventh in the Majors in runs scored. Could you have anticipated that kind of increase in production this year?
NED YOST: A little bit. These guys are continuing to grow and get experienced, and you just know that every year that they have, the better they're going to be because they're that talented. You see them come in, you see them in the beginning, you see them struggle a little bit and continue to get better and better and better.
Even after the year we had last year, we fully expected to expect Hos and Mous and Salvy to continue to get better and better as baseball players, and it's fun to watch them do that.
Q. Ned, do you think Alex has been rusty, and do you see him coming out of that?
NED YOST: Alex Gordon?
NED YOST: I don't think he's rusty. I think he came off that leg injury sitting out for two months and went down to Triple-A and caught on fire. It's just the natural ebb and flow of an offensive season for an offensive performer.
He started out real hot, kind of cooled off. In the last week or so he got hot again. So I think he's right where he needs to be.
Q. Ned, so Moustakas last year struggled and then broke out in the playoffs. There's a lot of talk that it helped sort of having those stats reset. Escobar struggled this regular season. I wonder if you see signs, if there's any way to predict he can have a similar breakout.
NED YOST: There's no way to predict it. I don't know how you can. You look at what we've done, our work as a whole, as a team. I mean, we're 44 games over .500 with Eskie in the leadoff spot. Doesn't matter if he's struggling or not. It works.
I got to the point I thought he was struggling and moved him down to the nine and we had our worst month by far in the season in September, where we went 10-18. As soon as the last seven games, I moved him into the leadoff spot, we won all seven. We needed to win games to get home-field advantage.
Eskie is a special player. He has the ability to step up and do something to help you win baseball games. So I like him -- I think everybody's real, real confident with him.
And, I mean, there's times where he'll get up there and swing at the first pitch of the game and -- but that, our guys go crazy when he does that, because our percentage in winning ball games -- they break everything down. Our percentage of winning ball games when Eskie swings at the first pitch is huge. As soon as Eskie swings at the first pitch, you hear everybody in the dugout go: We're winning today, we're winning today.
Q. You have that stat broken down?
NED YOST: Somebody did, yeah.
Q. He did that in all five games at the end of the year, swung at the first pitch?
NED YOST: Yeah. Probably the last seven, the last seven games we won, he did. They know it.
Q. When Johnny was going through his struggles in early September, I know you expressed confidence he'd come out of that. Was there any internal concern that you gotten this guy for the stretch run and you couldn't quite figure out what was going on?
NED YOST: No, that wasn't any concern that we got this guy for the stretch run and couldn't quite figure it out. There was a little concern that we couldn't figure it out. Didn't worry us, because we all knew we'd get it figured out by the time the playoffs started. And we did.
I think Johnny's last four or five starts have been really, really good and we look forward to having him have another really good one tomorrow night.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Ned. Good luck tonight.