Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas chatted with Johnny Giavotella in the clubhouse at Werner Park Friday afternoon before addressing the Omaha media. Maybe he was getting a few pointers from Giavotella about what to say after the Royals sent him down to Triple-A this week. Giavotella has certainly heard the same questions over and over again about why he finds himself in Triple-A rather than the big leagues.
After Moustakas' recent incident with the Kansas City media, some wondered how he would react to his first meeting with the press in Omaha after being demoted. In a four-minute interview, he said all the right things in a tone that lacked edge. And he accepted responsibility for the demotion (he was hitting .152/.223/.320 for the Royals).
"You know, it's an opportunity," he said. "I didn't get the job done up there so it's nice to be able to come down here with the great group of guys that we have and be able to iron out some things and then get back up as soon as possible."
So, is his problem mechanical or mental?
"It could be anything," he said. "That's why I'm here - to figure it out."
Omaha manager Brian Poldberg seems to think it's a combination.
"There might be some mechanical issues, but when you start pressing and you're trying to get three hits in one at-bat, then the mental part enters the equation and it'll get in your way as much as the mechanics," Poldberg said. "For Moose, I think he just needs to clear his mind and go out there like he's in high school again - go out and have some fun and just get rid of all the baggage and get back to playing like a little kid again."
Poldberg said he has a conference call scheduled with the Royals so they can set up a plan for Moustakas while he's in Omaha. He says they'll be looking at video from when things were going well for Moustakas, and of course, Moustakas will be working with hitting coach Tommy Gregg.
When Moustakas was asked if the Royals gave him a timetable for a possible return to the big leauges, his answer was matter of fact.
"I was told to come down here and work, so that's what I'm going to do."
He says the demotion is a humbling experience for him.
"You never want to go backward, but every now and then you've got to take a step back to jump forward. I'll get some work in and we'll see where we're at in a couple of days."