The Royals shook up their coaching staff Thursday in an attempt to jump-start their failing offense, making Dale Sveum the hitting coach and Mike Jirschele their third-base coach.
Pedro Grifol, who took over as hitting coach last season, will now instruct catchers.
The moves were announced after the Royals finished off a disastrous homestand that included a sweep at the hands of Houston, and before they opened a four-game series in Toronto.
Sveum said the Royals haven’t done a good enough job this season of hitting pitches in the upper half of the strike zone.
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“The bottom line is we’ve struggled with elevation and we’ve swung at pitches down in the zone probably way too much,” he said. “From thigh high to the top of the strike zone, we’re not doing enough damage.”
The Royals began the day last in the majors with 21 homers, putting them on pace to match the 1976 club for the fewest in franchise history for a non-strike-shortened season. They’re also last in the American League in runs and slugging percentage.
“There is not one man in the lineup that’s hitting the ball well,” Royals designated hitter Billy Butler said Wednesday. “We’re just cold.”
Manager Ned Yost said “a different voice can make a difference” to struggling batters, but the Royals have heard plenty of voices about hitting: Sveum is Kansas City’s fifth hitting coach in less than three seasons.
• Dodgers reliever Chris Withrow has been diagnosed with a ligament tear in his right elbow and been told he needs Tommy John surgery. The team said Thursday that the right-hander was examined last week by a team physician, who diagnosed a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament.