Some six years ago, Alcides Escobar sat in Royals manager Ned Yost’s office at Kauffman Stadium, breaths rattling through his body and tears pooling in his eyes.
The Royals had acquired Escobar in a trade that brought Lorenzo Cain to Kansas City and sent Zack Greinke to Milwaukee ahead of the 2011 season. Although he’d been a top prospect for the Brewers organization, Escobar had hit inconsistently his first full season in the majors.
The struggles followed him. He batted .216 through the first two months of the season. He was all of 24 years old with barely more than a year of service time. The options were still there for Royals brass to send him to Class AAA if the spirit so moved them.
All of this weighed on Escobar as he sat in front of Yost, a man who had coached him seven years earlier in instructional ball.
But Yost put a stop to the emotional spiral unwinding Escobar before the heaves could turn into sobs.
“When I first got here, one day he called me to his office. I was worried about being demoted,” Escobar said. “He said, ‘Don’t worry. Don’t think about Class AAA. Don’t think about anything. You’re going to play shortstop no matter what happens, hit or no hit.’ That motivated me and from that moment forward, things changed.”
Since then, Yost has expressed the same unrelenting patience for his starting shortstop. Past the slumps, Yost could see it clearly: Escobar would become an All-Star yet….