Royals know steals are about opportunity

Royals know steals are about opportunity

KANSAS CITY -- The American League is traditionally known for its power hitting, but there's some speed residing in Kansas City.

Entering play on Sunday, a pair of Royals ranked in the top five in the AL in stolen bases. Shortstop Alcides Escobar was tied for first with seven steals, and second baseman Chris Getz was tied for fifth with five.

"Both of us have the ability to run," Getz said. "When the opportunity arises to do so, if it's appropriate, if the game dictates that, then we'll look to run."

It happened twice in Saturday's 5-1 win over the Yankees. Escobar stole second base after singling in the bottom of the sixth and later came around to score on an Alex Gordon double. Getz stole second base after walking the following inning.

The speed element is incorporated into the Royals' strategy, according to manager Ned Yost.

"It's definitely part of our game plan," Yost said. "We haven't made the best choices up to this point. The hardest thing to do is to get guys aggressive and get them wanting to steal. We've got them wanting to steal now; we've just got to make sure it's in the right spot. But we've done a better job of it here in the last 10 days, picking our spots better."

The Royals are tied for second in the AL as a team with 19 stolen bases, trailing only Oakland, which has racked up 25 steals. But Kansas City is tied for first in unsuccessful stolen-base attempts with 10.

Yost said it's all about being smart on the basepaths. He said the team has a baserunning session once or twice each homestand to practice, but generally, his players can be aggressive and make their own decisions on when to attempt a steal.

"[Jeff Francoeur] got 20 stolen bases last year because he was opportunistic," Yost said, using his right fielder as an example. "He made sure that the timing was right and that all the conditions were right. ... You're not going to steal 20 bases if the conditions aren't right, so we've got to make sure that we pick our spots, make sure we're running in the right counts, make sure we're running at the right time and that the conditions are right to be successful. Our success rate is starting to get more back to where we want it to be."