Royals look to regroup to make 2nd-half run

Rookies have filled in nicely, but champs need to play better on road

Royals look to regroup to make 2nd-half run

KANSAS CITY -- In a quiet clubhouse after the Royals' 8-5 loss to the Mariners on Sunday, players scrambled to pack their belongings as they prepared to scatter across the country for the All-Star break.

Eric Hosmer, Salvador Perez and Kelvin Herrera got ready to board a charter flight to San Diego for the All-Star Game presented by MasterCard on Tuesday. Closer Wade Davis, also an All-Star, planned to hang back in Kansas City for treatment of his strained right forearm.

The rest of the Royals will have plenty to ponder about over the next four days, such as what has gone wrong with the defending World Series champions.

While injuries have plagued the Royals, manager Ned Yost wouldn't use that as an excuse.

"We've done a good job of treading water," Yost said. "We haven't made any advances in the division. But we haven't buried ourselves, either."

The Royals sit at 45-43 and seven games out of first place in the American League Central. Right-hander Edinson Volquez said there's plenty of time to make up that gap.

"Seven games isn't a lot," Volquez said. "But it's not little, either. We need to start playing better. The key, in my opinion, is to start playing better on the road. We know how to win at home. We know how to come back in games here.

"We've got to do that on the road. When we start to do that we'll be fine."

The Royals are 16-30 on the road, the third worst mark in the Majors.

Volquez was quick to praise the Royals' rookies who have had to step up into bigger roles.

"They've done a good job of filling in," Volquez said. "But it's a little different when you're playing for a championship team. There's more expected of you."

Rookie Brett Eibner is figuring that out. But in the short time he's been with the Royals, he's sensed that championship aura.

"I feel like there is a lot left in the season to make our move," he said. "I don't think anyone is panicking right now."

The Royals resume play on Friday with the start of a three-game series against the Tigers at Comerica Park.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.