Sliding Royals turn to Brett as hitting coach

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Stuck in an eight-game losing streak, the stumbling Kansas City Royals turned to the greatest player in franchise history to turn around their hitting woes.

Hall of Famer George Brett was appointed the club’s interim hitting coach Thursday and will join the team in time for their game against the St. Louis Cardinals. Brett takes over for Jack Maloof and Andre David, who have been reassigned to the minor league organization.

This will be Brett’s first in-season coaching role, though he’s been the franchise’s vice president of baseball operations since retiring as a player following the 1993 season. He’s also worked as a volunteer coach at spring training for years.

“I’m thankful that this organization has one of the greatest hitters and more importantly one of the greatest competitors our game has ever seen in George Brett, and he has accepted our offer to join the coaching staff on an interim basis,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said.

Royals manager Ned Yost dumped hitting coach Kevin Seitzer following last season, and said at the time that he wanted to develop an offense that flashed more power.

Well, the offense hasn’t flashed much of anything.

The Royals, who have won just four of their past 23 games, haven’t scored more than three runs in their past six games. They rank near the bottom of the league in runs, walks, homers, RBIs and just about every other statistical category. After starting 17-10, the Royals have fallen into last place in the AL Central.

“Obviously things have not gone as we would have expected and in light of the downturn in offensive production and poor results we’ve decided to make a change,” said Moore, who thanked Maloof and David for their work.

The 60-year-old Brett has turned down numerous opportunities to be a coach, and told The Associated Press during spring training that he’s had several chances to manage a team. But he’s been content to serve as a volunteer coach during spring training all these years because he said that he didn’t need the daily grind that comes with a 162-game schedule.

But he’s kept the pulse of the organization by working in the front office, and earlier this week lamented during a radio interview the team’s misfortune.

Evidently, the losses had piled up to the point that Brett was ready to accept the challenge.

He certainly has quite the résumé.

The family No. 5 retired in 1993 as the Royals’ career hit leader with 3,154 during a career that spanned two decades. He remains the only player in major league history to win batting titles in three different decades, including his memorable 1980 season in which he hit .390.

The 13-time All-Star is the club’s career leader in every offensive category besides stolen bases, and he was a first-ballot Hall of Fame selection in 1999.

The Royals also said Pedro Grifol will serve as a special assignment coach. He is in his first year with the Royals, where he’s been working as the hitting coach for the club’s team in Surprise, Ariz. He spent the past 13 seasons with the Mariners organization.

Maloof and David had been working in the Royals’ minor league system when they were promoted to work with the big league roster. At the time, they were credited with helping young cornerstones such as Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas matriculate to the major leagues.

Hosmer was batting .262 with one homer and 13 RBIs entering Thursday night’s game in St. Louis, while Moustakas was hitting .187 with four homers and 12 RBIs.

Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press

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