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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -
Hall of Famer George Brett has been named interim hitting coach for the Kansas City Royals.
Brett, 60, will serve in his new role with Thursday's game in St. Louis. Pedro Grifol was named special assignment coach.
In a news conference in St. Louis, Brett said he was excited but also apprehensive about his new role.
"I am scared to death right now, to be honest with you, but I'm looking forward to the challenge," he said, adding he hopes to ignite passion for the Royals in the players.
He said he wants to help the players "know what a good swing feels like." He admitted his own frustrations in watching the product on the field.
"Try not to be a ball player they are not," Brett said. "I am sick and tired of watching guys try to hit three-run home runs when nobody is on the base when you are down two runs in the eighth inning."
Manager Ned Yost said Brett has a special mindset and he welcomes the change.
Coaches Jack Maloof and Andre David were demoted to the minor league organization.
"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 Royals general manager Dayton Moore. "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."
Moore said Grifol brings a wealth of knowledge and "will work various aspects of the coaching staff."
The most popular Royals player ever, Brett led the Royals to a World Series championship in 1985. He is the Royals all-time hit leader with 3,154 during a career that began in 1973. He won the American League batting title in 1976, 1980 and 1990.
He retired in 1993 and was named to the Hall of Fame in 1999. He served 13 years in the Seattle organization with the vast majority in their minor league system.
He served as vice president of baseball operations for the Royals since his retirement. He has worked on the field during spring training. He had prominent roles on and off the field, including managing the futures team, at last year's All-Star festivities at Kauffman Stadium.
Grifol, 43, is in his first year with the Royals. He began the season as the hitting coach for the Surprise Royals. He worked with the Seattle Mariners organization.
The Royals started the season hot and even led the American League Central division. But the team's bats went cold and last night's loss to the Cardinals was their eighth in a row.
The Royals haven't scored more than three runs in their last six games. They're near the bottom of the league in runs, walks, homers, RBIs and just about every other hitting metric.
Maloof ignited a controversy this week when he said he expects the Royals to finish last in the American League in home runs. Maloof made the comments to Fox Sports reporter Jeff Flanagan, who covered the Royals for years for the Kansas City Star.
Maloof and Davis replaced former Royals player Kevin Seitzer as hitting coach.
"There is just no reward (for us) to try and hit home runs," Maloof told Flanagan. "We try to stay down on the ball, be more line-drive oriented, and do more situational hitting at least through the first two or three rounds (at home) here. That's why I'm not overly concerned because I think we'll lead the league in fewest home runs again this year. We don't have a 40-homer guy in the middle of the lineup."
He continued, "We've got kids. Billy Butler is a doubles machine. No one has told me he is a home run hitting guy. If we try to do it too much, we'll get ourselves in trouble. Same thing with Alex (Gordon). They'll hit home runs on the road, and yes, they'll hit some here. They have. But the risk for them to go out and hit a home run in one of 80 at-bats, the reward isn't great enough.
"Baltimore? Better reward. I'm not using it as an excuse. But it is a mindset."
Maloof claimed that Kauffman Stadium isn't conducive for home runs. Of course, opposing players and Brett himself might take issue with that.
"Here's the thing: Other teams come in here from Anaheim or wherever and they have their swing already down," Maloof said to Fox Sports. "This park doesn't even enter into their minds when they hit here. They have their swings, the same swings, because it pays dividends for them at home.
"What we need to do with our players, like we were in April, is be better at situational hitting. We were over 60 percent then in getting guys in from third. We're under 50 percent now. We just need to execute better. In this ballpark, go ahead and hit the ball in play (with guys on third and less than two outs). You're not going to hit a home run anyway, for the most part.
"I'm not making excuses. We play half of our games here. I'm just talking about the ability for a ball to carry out here the way it would in Anaheim or Philadelphia or in Baltimore, where we have hit home runs."
He said there was a lot of baseball left in the season and "we have to stay positive."
It just now won't be in the big leagues.
Copyright2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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