Valencia gets increased time at Moustakas' expense

Valencia gets increased time at Moustakas' expense

KANSAS CITY -- Third baseman Mike Moustakas hasn't been able to get his bat going, so Danny Valencia is getting an expanded role.

For the first time since Royals manager Ned Yost began platooning with the left-handed Moustakas and the right-handed Valencia, he deviated from the system. Although the White Sox started a right-hander, Andre Rienzo, on Tuesday night, Valencia started at third base instead of Moustakas.

"Right now, I wanted to get Danny some at-bats because we do have lefties coming up the next two days. Danny's been swinging the bat OK and I wanted to get him in there, get some at-bats, let him play a couple days in a row and see what develops," Yost said.

The first trial turned out well. Valencia banged a two-run double and singled in three at-bats against Rienzo and later drew a walk.

"I was fortunate enough to get some good pitches and I felt pretty solid in there today. The only thing is we came up short and that's the worst part about it," Valencia said after the 7-6 loss.

Yost was satisfied.

 "I thought he played a great game -- the big two-run double to get us going was big. He ended up getting another hit," he said. "I thought he played well, offensively and defensively."

Moustakas got into the game as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning with two runners on base but popped out.

Last Wednesday, the struggling Moustakas ripped off two doubles and had a three-run double in a 3-2 victory over the Rockies. He also flied out deep to right.

"He had a big day the other day. I thought he was going to get it going," Yost said.

It didn't happen. In four games since then, Moustakas was 1-for-12. His average, never over .162, is at .153, although he does have four home runs and 17 RBIs.

Valencia went into Tuesday night's game against the White Sox with a .283 average in 14 games with one homer and four RBIs. He had 46 at-bats compared to Moustakas' 124.

So, Valencia apparently will be at third base for at least three straight games.

"I'm definitely happy about it," Valencia said. "It feels good to be in there. Obviously, everybody wants to play. And when you get your chance, you're excited and you try to make the most of it, really.

"The more at-bats, the better. Baseball's one of those games where you want to be in there as much as possible to feel like you're in a pretty good rhythm."

Valencia hasn't played on an everyday basis since 2011 with the Twins. He's since had short stays with the Red Sox and Orioles.

Asked if he communicated his lineup plans directly to players, Yost said: "These are all big boys. You can look at your performance and that ought to communicate what's going on. You can read into all you want. I wanted to give Danny some at-bats tonight with the two lefties coming up, see how he does. He hasn't had the opportunity to play much."

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.