September 14, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals third basemen Mike Moustakas (8) celebrates with teammate Jeff Francoeur (21) after hitting a solo home run against the Los Angeles Angels during the second inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Moustakas Makes Slight (But Positive) Progress on Sunday

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Mike Moustakas has had a dismal April. The Royals aren’t saying anything about sending him down – at least not publicly – but there have to have been whispers within the front office, even if it’s not something they’re considering seriously yet.

The Royals gave him the day off in the first game of the series against Cleveland, sitting him against lefty Scott Kazmir. Prior to that, Moustakas had doubled and walked in his last two plate appearances in the Royals extra innings win in Detroit. He pinch hit against the Indians on Saturday, grounding out.

He entered Sunday’s double header with a .152/.222/.197 line. Awful for sure.

But he has shown some signs of getting back on track, even if slowly. In Game 1, he walked three times and singled. Two of his walks started two out rallies and the third came with the bases loaded. In Game 2, he went 1-4 with a hard-hit double to left field. That put him on base in five of eight plate appearances and added two hits to his totals.

He leaves Sunday with a .169/.263/.225 line. Still not good, but compared to where he started the day, a lot of improvement. More than just bumping his numbers up, he looked more comfortable at the plate and drove the ball better on his double. The Royals said it may be a couple of days before the adjustments he’d been making started to bear fruit and maybe – maybe – this is the first step towards getting right.

Moustakas is certainly not out of the danger zone yet. He had an error in the nightcap of the double header that could have been a double header but should have been at least a force out. If he turns the double play, the inning is over. Instead, the Indians scored two runs in the first. There’s always the concern that a player takes offensive struggles to the field with them and maybe he’s pressing in the field. On Wednesday he had another big error that led to four runs against the Tigers.

So it’s little by little, step by step. Moustakas gained a bit of statistical traction on Sunday, but it stands out as a bigger day because the Royals are only 22 games into the season and any big day makes up a bigger percentage of the season’s numbers. Got to love the small sample size fluctuations. More doubles, more home runs will start to put minds at ease. There are positives to be found in a day like Sunday, though. Moustakas wasn’t flailing, trying to make something happen (and, in fact, has the second most walks on the team behind Billy Butler).

Maybe it’s just grasping for straws and Moustakas has to end up in Omaha no matter what, but if that turns out to be the case, seeing him get above the Mendoza line before it happens would be a bit more comforting.

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