MINNEAPOLIS -- All those times that shortstop Alcides Escobar was allowed to bat in clutch situations last year instead of using a pinch-hitter seems to have to paid off.
Escobar, going into the series at Minnesota, had a .315 average to lead all Major League shortstops. In fact, he ranked seventh in American League hitting overall.
Manager Ned Yost drew some criticism last year for not pinch-hitting for Escobar at crucial times but never wavered.
"Last year in a lot of tough situations, in the last three innings in a tie game or we're down by one run and the team needs a hit, he let me hit and he gave me confidence," Escobar said. "That was great because I learned more about situations like that and right now I feel like I've been much better this year."
The thin Escobar added about seven pounds in weight, and perhaps some muscle, because this year his 23 extra-base hits total (19 doubles, two homers) is only 10 shy of what he had all last season.
"But I just trust in my hands. I know I can hit because I always hit in the Minor Leagues and I feel like I can hit in the big leagues," he said. "I got a little more patient in the last year. I see the ball better and I've been hitting the ball harder."
Escobar is one of the Royals likely to get serious consideration for the All-Star Game at Kansas City. The squads will be announced on Sunday.
"I want to go to the All-Star Game, I'm waiting for that," he said. "I'd like to have a chance to make the team. Maybe they'll pick two or three guys from the team, and I'd like to [be] one of them."