Moose pushes through pain for playoff push

Moose pushes through pain for playoff push

CLEVELAND -- Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas has been hobbled by a right knee injury for weeks, but he continues to grind his way through the discomfort and play regularly.

Moustakas said he does so for one reason: His teammates.

"It's one of those things that if I could get three or four or five days, it'd be great," Moustakas said. "But I can't afford to do it right now. We're still in this. We're in the mix. It's not just me who is hurting out there. It's just more noticeable with me because it's a knee injury.

"[Eric Hosmer] isn't a 100 percent. Sal [Salvador Perez] is not 100 percent. LoLo [Lorenzo Cain] is not 100 percent. If you are 100 percent right now, we need to do some talking. We've played a lot baseball."

Aside from helping the Royals try to secure the second American League Wild Card spot -- they entered Thursday four games back -- Moustakas also is pursuing the Royals' record for home runs in a season. Moustakas has 36 home runs, tied with Steve Balboni, who set the mark in 1985.

The record, Moustakas said, is not on his mind. Helping his team win is. Moustakas on the last homestand made two errant throws in one game, which led to speculation that he couldn't push off the right leg.

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"I don't think it affects the throws," Moustakas said. "The other day when I sailed one, I just got underneath it. I grabbed the seam and it was gone. The one I did feel [the knee] on a little bit was on the double play where I tried to push off the bag and throw, and I didn't get the bag cleanly."

But Moustakas, who last homered on Sept. 1 at Minnesota, said the injury has affected his front leg, the plant leg, on his swing.

"I feel it a little swinging," he said. "It's hard to get on [the leg] and snap off it. That's the leg I try to snap off with. Lately, I can feel myself get to my front side and just [drift] through a little bit. It looks like I'm trying to pull everything, but I'm not.

"So we've been trying to work on some things to help me stay back and go the other way a little more. I just think it's more mechanical than physical right now."

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.