Coming into Tuesday’s contest leading the Kansas City Royals in home runs and RBIs, Mike Moustakas has faced more battles off than on scoresheet in recent weeks.
The third baseman is battling a sore knee that initially emerged when he was hit by a fastball in a road victory against the Detroit Tigers on July 26. The pitch caused a hip bruise that led to fluid draining, which created more stiffness for Moustakas in Kansas’s City recent 2-4 homestand.
“It’s draining down his leg and the fluid… makes it a little less flexible,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “The trainers work real hard to get the fluid out, but by the end of the day, it’s still draining down in there.”
Moustakas has hit .214 with three home runs and 7 RBIs since the incident, but had a five-game hitting streak snapped in Kansas City’s second loss of the I-70 series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
The pain recurred in Monday’s series opener, when a pickoff throw from Drew Butera deflected off his knee in the fourth inning. While unrelated to an ACL injury that limited Moustakas to 27 games in 2016, Moustakas’s current knee issues may warrant some tough lineup decisions moving forward.
“It’s one of those things that’s not an injury per say outside of the bruise, but gravity takes effect and kind of pull fluid from his blood,” Yost said. “Until the fluid gets out of there and that bruise heals, that’s going to hamper him a little bit, but not to the point that he can’t play. It just affects his mobility.”
Moustakas remains within the Top 10 in home runs (32), RBIs (77) and OPS (.865) among all Major League third basemen, pacing for career-bests in all categories. The production is not easy to replace for an offense averaging four runs per game in August.
The Royals recalled Cheslor Cuthbert for infield insurance on Tuesday, who played all nine innings at the hot corner in lieu of a lineup move that moved Moustakas to designated hitter. Cuthbert cleared the bases with a fourth inning double and could be the primary third base option until Moustakas’s knee more effectively recovers.
“I think Moose did a good job playing third base, and I could give him some rest while he plays DH,” Cuthbert said.
Kansas City will play without a designated hitter for the next two games as the I-70 series heads to Busch Stadium. Moustakas may play through the pain to help the Royals regain ground after dropping the first two games of the I-70 series and being unable to gain ground on a tie for the second American League wild card spot.