• Bill Althaus: Brett hopes to rekindle magic

  • How about that new Kansas City Royals hitting coach?

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  • How about that new Kansas City Royals hitting coach?
    Hall of Famer and Kansas City legend George Brett was in the dugout in St. Louis for Thursday night’s marathon session as the Royals' interim hitting coach.
    I wonder what was going through his mind as the game was delayed an hour before the first pitch and 4 hours and 32 minutes after the Royals scored three times in the top of the ninth inning to claim a 4-2 victory in a contest that ended promptly at 3:14 a.m.
    Kansas City outfielder Jeff Francoeur entered the game with a .217 batting average, but he ended the Royals' 59-inning slump without a homer in the top of the ninth inning as the Royals scored three times to take the lead.
    The win helped the Royals avoid a Cardinals’ sweep of the series and ended an eight-game losing streak.
    I write with this with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek as I credit Brett for the win. The Royals collected just four hits in the win, but his passion, and love of the game he dominated for two decades, should make this young squad eager to follow in his footsteps.
    Before the game, Brett, manager Ned Yost and general manager Dayton Moore talked about Brett’s presence and how they coaxed him from the golf course to the baseball diamond.
    “I was just frustrated night after night after night of watching this,” Brett said when asked why he had changed his stance and accepted the hitting coach position. “I go, ‘Well, (gosh) dang, Dayton.’ Next thing Ned calls and asks, ‘What do you think?’”
    They asked Brett if he might consider being the new hitting coach, as he had worked with many of the players on a daily basis in spring training.
    “We lost another game and I thought about it and I just thought I would give it a try.” Brett said. “I spoke to the players, tried to invoke the same passion I have for the organization and I am scared to death right now to be honest with you.”
    Brett steps into his new job with a pedigree that includes three batting championships in three decades, 3,154 career hits and 13 all-star appearances.
    But when he took the field, he controlled what happened.
    Now, he is hoping to share his knowledge with a struggling squad.
    “I am looking forward to the challenge,” he added. “I know how hard this game is to play. Every day I played I was scared to death because I didn’t know if I was going to go 0-for-4 or 4-for-4. I didn’t know if the ball was going to go between my legs or I was going to make a great play.
    Page 2 of 2 - “We have young kids on our team who are having a hard time coping with the situation they are in right now. I just want to come and share my life with them, how I got through things like this, how I became a more consistent player, how I became a leader of a club and played with the passion I played with.
    “I think I can help these guys learn that.”
    And that’s just what Yost and Moore are hoping for, too.
    “Timing is everything, and obviously we got off to a good start,” Moore said. “The expectations were very high for our team, knowing that we have a young ball club, young hitters and many of them with very little experience.
    “So we feel the offense will trend upwards but the time was now (to make a change) and we’re losing a lot of games and we’re not scoring runs. We need to inject some enthusiasm and some energy. As I have said many times, coming to Kansas City and evaluating this organization’s history and where we are right now and what we are trying to become getting to know George Brett I realized very early on why the Royals were so successful in the ’80s.
    “They had good players, but the competitiveness and the loyalty and energy and fierce competitor that George was and what he brought to that team, I feel that we need in our clubhouse and Ned feels it is the right thing as well. We talked to him in the past and we are excited he is ready to go.”
    Yost, who played against Brett when he was a catcher for the Milwaukee Brewers, is excited about Brett’s day-to-day involvement with his hitters.
    “George will bring passion, energy, enthusiasm, competitiveness – we talked about all that – but I have been in Major League Baseball spring training camps for many, many years and I have never seen a player of George’s magnitude, from the minute he gets there to the minute he leaves he is working.
    “He’s hitting fungos, throwing batting practice, talking to players in the locker room. He is there from the first day of spring training to the last day. I’ve never seen a Hall of Famer with the work ethic he has. And you can see by standing around him for a while why he was so successful.”
    And we can only hope that aura will rub off on the struggling Royals hitters.
    When he played, Brett was a miracle worker – the guy you wanted up with the game on the line. Only time will tell if he can work the same kind of magic as a coach.

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