Yost not worried about Mondesi's bat

Yost not worried about Mondesi's bat

KANSAS CITY -- After Raul Mondesi won the second-base competition in Spring Training, the Royals often said they were not looking for him to be a big factor offensively.

Manager Ned Yost and general manager Dayton Moore thought Mondesi gave them the best defensive option at the position, and the other eight hitters in the lineup could cover for him offensively.

So far, Mondesi has for the most part held up his end of the bargain defensively, making several breathtaking plays.

Offensively, Mondesi has struggled, hitting .114 through 13 games. In Tuesday's 2-1 loss to the Giants, Mondesi struck out in the bottom of the ninth with the winning run on second. In the 11th, Mondesi struck out with the tying and winning runs on base, ending the game.

Fans howled on Twitter. But while Whit Merrifield started in Wednesday's 2-0 victory over the Giants in place of Mondesi against ace Madison Bumgarner, Yost is sticking with Mondesi for the long haul. Merrifield went 0-for-4 and struck out once Wednesday. 

Yost explained his position in an often playfully argumentative fashion prior to Wednesday's game, with the quotes seeming more like a rant than they really were.

"I'm not even focusing on Mondi," Yost said. "You guys want to make Mondi the issue, and he's not the issue. If we have to worry about Mondi driving in runs in the nine hole, we're in trouble. He's here for his defense, and to develop as a Major League player.

"The guys one through eight are the guys we need to produce. For us to sit here and overanalyze Mondesi and his batting average is ridiculous. It makes no sense.

"When we went into this we weren't counting on Mondi to carry the load offensively. We expected him to play high quality defense with his range and athleticism."

Yost even alluded to the fact Mondesi is hitting into bad luck.

"The thing that's so amazing is last week he was first on our team in hard-hit balls and had nothing to show for it," Yost said. "You have to look at reality rather than looking at Mondi punching out twice as the big storyline."

Actually, according to Statcast™, Mondesi was second in hard-hit balls (exit velocity of 95 mph-plus) last week at 54.6 percent. Brandon Moss was first at 63.6 percent.

Mondesi also is tied for second on the team in terms of percentage of hard-hit balls at 40 percent (8-of-20) along with Drew Butera (2-of-5). Moss is first with 47.6 percent (10-of-21).

"We want to win, and he can help us," Yost said. "But if you're leaning on his offense, you're barking up the wrong tree. That's a job for [Eric Hosmer] and [Mike Moustakas] and Moss and [Salvador Perez]. They are the run producers."

The difference, though, may be that the Royals have options other than Mondesi at second base, notably Merrifield or Christian Colon.

"It's been 13 games," Yost said. "Come on."

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.