KANSAS CITY -- Royals manager Ned Yost has been reluctant to give Mike Moustakas a break from the starting lineup. After all, Moose is hitting .274 with 25 RBIs and is playing like a wizard at third base.
But with left-hander Tommy Milone starting for the A's on Sunday, Yost gave Moustakas a planned break for the first time since the Royals were at Oakland in the season's first week. Moustakas, who missed three games in May because of a hamstring ailment, did enter Sunday's game late in the eighth as a defensive replacement and singled in one at-bat.
Against most left-handers, Moustakas has remained in the lineup because he's been one of the Royals' most consistent hitters this season.
"I didn't want to give him a day off today. But sometimes you've got to pick your spots," Yost said. "He's been in there every single day, been playing his tail off, and it was just a good day to give him a little bit of a break."
Yuniesky Betancourt started at third base and batted fifth on Sunday -- going 1-for-4 and committing an error.
Smith primed for start at Kauffman Stadium
KANSAS CITY -- Left-hander Will Smith enters his third Major League start on Monday with an overload of composure, confidence and presence. In short, nothing has changed.
Smith has always been supremely confident on the pitching mound.
"A lot of my friends back home say I'm not wired right. I'm kind of crazy," Smith said with a grin. "But you have to be confident in what you do or else you're not going to perform well. So whether I'm 22 years old in the big leagues or 45 in the big leagues, I'll still have the same attitude. I'll still go out there and attack and do what I know how to do best."
In fact, the product of Newnan, Ga., is 22 and will turn 23 on July 10, the day of the All-Star Game in Kansas City. He made his debut with a loss in the glare of Yankee Stadium -- "That was crazy," he said -- and then survived a rocky first inning at Cleveland to gain his first victory. His start on Monday night against the Twins will be his first at Kauffman Stadium.
Smith is adjusting to life in the big leagues.
"Everything up here . . . it's just a totally different world up here," he said. "From the way you're treated as royalty and the information you have -- the stuff you have on hitters -- is unlimited. It's unbelievable, a lot to get used to. But at the same time, we've been doing this our whole lives so we have a pretty good idea of how to play baseball. You've just got to go out there and do what you do best."
Manager Ned Yost sees Smith as having a good fastball, curveball and slider and a wealth of mound presence.
"He's got great composure on the mound," Yost said. "You can't develop that, you either have it or you don't. I mean you can adjust it and you can learn how to handle it better, but it's a trait that I think you're born with."
Sanchez struggles in latest rehab start
KANSAS CITY -- Left-hander Jonathan Sanchez, making his second injury rehabilitation start, had a rough outing for Triple-A Omaha on Sunday.
Sanchez lasted just 2 2/3 innings and gave up six runs on six hits, including two home runs, and four walks and a hit batter in the Storm Chasers' 7-5 loss to the Memphis Redbirds. In his other start for Omaha, Sanchez gave up just one run on three hits in 5 2/3 innings against Iowa.
Now, the Royals will decide if Sanchez is to get another Minor League start or return to the Kansas City roster. He's been out since May 8 with left biceps tendinitis.
Right-hander Vin Mazzaro is angling for a rotation spot along with lefty Will Smith. Mazzaro, in his second Kansas City start, pitched six shutout innings in Sunday's 2-0 win over Oakland and has a 2-0 record with a 2.25 ERA. Smith, 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA in two starts, will make his third start on Monday night against Minnesota.
Mazzaro made a good impression on manager Ned Yost.
"He threw the ball extremely well to get us through six innings. He kept his pitch count in good check, attacked the hitters for the most part," Yost said. "He did a great job of keeping 'em off-balance and keeping 'em off the board."
Yost wasn't ready to make any decisions just yet.
"But Vinnie did a nice job today and really kept his name in the hat," he said.
Despite the Royals' weak showing at home, a 7-18 record following Sunday's win, their attendance at Kauffman Stadium is on the upswing.
Through 25 home dates, they've drawn 579,199 fans for an average of 23,168 -- an increase of 5,300 per game over last year. In 2011, their first 25 games drew 446,696 for a 17,868 average.
The increase in total number of fans is 131,503.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.