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Matheny’s Message to Struggling Royals Bats ‘Just Do Your Part'

According to Matheny, KC's bats are stuck in a rut.

The days in which the Kansas City Royals were an undefeated 2-0 club are a distant memory. Following Monday's loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on the road, the Royals are 7-14 on the year and have dropped nine of their last 11 games. The team has lost four games in a row dating back to its sweep at the hands of the New York Yankees.

Despite losing the game on Monday, Kansas City actually recorded one more hit than its in-state rival. In six innings of work, Cardinals starter Steven Matz surrendered four of the club's five hits but didn't allow a run. The Royals went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position, which is a fitting encapsulation of their 2022 season thus far. After the game, manager Mike Matheny was asked whether the club's offensive struggles are weighing on players in the clubhouse. His answer was telling. 

Apr 12, 2022; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Royals manager Mike Matheny (22) looks on from the dugout before a game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

"Yeah, I mean, they see their stats," Matheny said. "They see our collective... our standing, where we are right now with our record. They're not happy with it, either. We've got a number of guys that aren't swinging how they want to swing it, and they all take a lot of pride in that they want to help get this thing rolling, 'do my piece.' That's what we're preaching: just do your part and hand it off to the next guy." 

Of full-time or near full-time players, those aforementioned stats are very poor. The Royals have a multitude of players struggling at the moment. Whit Merrifield, Salvador Perez, Hunter Dozier, Michael A. Taylor and Nicky Lopez all went hitless on Monday afternoon, lowering their batting averages to .151, .185, .225, .196 and .224, respectively. Of that group, Dozier's OPS is the highest at .680. The average league-wide OPS heading into today's play was .678. 

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As far as standings go, the Royals somehow find themselves just five-and-a-half games back of the first-place Minnesota Twins in the American League Central. They're two-and-a-half games out of second place and the Central has a lone game separating the cellar and the middle. Although the team has gotten off to a dreadful start to the year, every squad outside of Minnesota is below .500. If the Royals can fix things soon, there's still plenty of hope left for them this year. When asked if he knew what the fix was, Matheny's message was simple. 

"If I knew, I'd have already done it," Matheny said. "There's only so much we can do. Hitting is hard. It's hard, and you're going to go through some ruts. It's going to happen with everyone. Hopefully, we're getting our rut out of the way and then we start putting some things together. It's confidence as much as anything right now... for each of them to feel good about walking into the box and what their approach is and that their swing is going to put them in a place to have success. But that usually comes from success." 

A rut is defined as either "a long deep track made by the repeated passage of the wheels of vehicles" or "a habit or pattern of behavior that has become dull and unproductive but is hard to change." The Royals have repeatedly passed through the batter's box without scoring enough runs, and their pattern at the plate is dull and unproductive. As such, it's going to be hard to change, but there's still time to do so. The longer it drags along, though, the less likely it is to improve.