Moose not limited by knee, anxious to play

Moose not limited by knee, anxious to play

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- There is always a pivotal time after ACL surgery when the player finally realizes he can trust his knee again.

That moment for Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas arrived last September as he was taking some grounders before a game at Kauffman Stadium. The infield practice came roughly four months after his procedure, and Moustakas was simply breaking up the boredom of rehab.

"I fell, I slipped," Moustakas said. "But then I got up and I was good to go. I thought, 'It's all right, and it's not going to tear again, so if it's not going to tear if I fall down, then it's good to go.'"

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For a brief moment, Moustakas had concerns.

"My feet just came out from underneath me," Moustakas said. "I was on the ground and I'm thinking, 'I'm all right. Nothing happened.' I had complete trust in it from then on."

It has been a long road back for Moustakas since last May's scary collision in Chicago with left fielder Alex Gordon when the two chased down a pop fly. Moustakas had been off to a great start, hitting seven homers in the first six weeks of the season.

Moustakas and Gordon collide

Now, Moustakas is anxious to get back to playing games. He did not appear in Saturday's Cactus League opener lineup against the Rangers, but he is expected to play on Sunday.

The plan is to go slow with Moustakas, alternating him between time at third base and at designated hitter.

"We got plenty of time," Moustakas said. "Lot of baseball to be played."

So far, Moustakas has felt no limitations in the field or at the plate.

"I don't even think about it [lateral movement]," Moustakas said. "It's good to go. All that stuff, it's all mental. Once I got over that, I was ready, good to go.

"Only thing I'm concerned about is seeing pitches and getting my timing back. I have all spring to get that down, so I'm not too concerned about it."

But Moustakas had one more telling moment.

"I stood in on Jason [Hammel] the other day, and he was making good pitches," Moustakas said. "He let a fastball in get away from him, and it almost hit me. I had to get out of the way, and that's good too. I'm good to go. It grazed my shirt. Inside pitch that I had to extend my knee on, get out of the way of it. Felt fine, it was good."

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.