CHICAGO -- The Royals' overall home run count may be glaringly low, but over the past two weeks Kansas City's hitters have bucked what had been a season-long trend. Entering Friday's series opener with the White Sox, Kansas City ranked last in the Majors with 31 home runs, but 10 of those came in the club's 13 most recent games.
The power surge coincides with the replacing of Pedro Grifol with Dale Sveum at hitting coach. Grifol moved to catching instructor, while Mike Jirschele took Sveum's job as third-base coach. Still, it's the hitters who have done the damage, and the recent bevy of home runs could be attributed to coincidence. Either way, the move has worked out so far.
"I don't really think it had that big of a difference on what we're doing now, but at the same time something needed to change, and something had to spark us a little bit," said Eric Hosmer, who had swatted two homers in his past four games. "And they made the changes that they felt were necessary to make, and it's won a couple of games. I don't know if it's because of that reason -- but it's tough to see that -- but at the same time nobody lost their job, and it's worked out good for us so far."
Sveum's approach is simple. He said the Royals had a "real problem" of swinging at balls low in the zone.
"You've got to get the ball up in the zone, is the bottom line," he said. "If you want to hit home runs, it's already elevated for you, and you've got to get the ball up in the zone and be ready for it and beat it to the punch when it gets there. That's been as much as anything, is just harping on elevation."
Sveum added that the media guide "doesn't lie," meaning he expected any hitters experiencing a power outage to eventually reach their typical level of production. The home run total is a telling statistic but at this time is reflective of only the first 10 weeks of the season.
"You know it's going to change," Hosmer said. "That's the thing: You can't really get caught up too much in numbers during the season, because it'll eat away at you if you do. You've just got to go out and try to win a ballgame and just let the numbers -- at the end of the year, look up and see what you've got."
The burst of moon shots has been a welcome sign for Royals manager Ned Yost.
"We needed to improve on our slugging percentage, and since Dale's taken over, we've done that."
Sveum back in Chicago with new league, team
CHICAGO -- Royals hitting coach Dale Sveum did not have to wait long for a job offer after he was let go by the Cubs last September.
Sveum, who managed the Cubs to a 66-96 record in 2013, was dismissed one day after the conclusion of the regular season. He was hardly an hour removed from his duties with the Cubs when he received a call from an old friend.
It was manager Ned Yost, who wasted no time getting in contact with Sveum. The two had forged a relationship in Milwaukee, where Sveum worked under Yost as a third-base coach and bench coach from 2006-08.
"I just thought he was doing a tremendous job, and with two weeks to go when that rumor came out that his job might be in jeopardy, I'm like, 'OK, this is crazy right here, but if this happens, I've got a spot for him,'" Yost said. "So when I heard, it was the day after the season ended, and I had heard it, and I thought, 'I'm gonna give him some time,' then I thought, 'I ain't gonna give him no time.'"
Yost said that taking a year off after he was fired by the Brewers following the 2008 season was one of the best decisions he ever made, and he was wondering if Sveum might want to do the same. When Sveum said he had no desire to take time off, Yost made his pitch.
"I said, 'It's either going to be third-base coach or bench coach, but you know, if you want a job, I've got one for ya,'" Yost said. "And he said, 'I'm just walking out of this thing, give me a day or two to think about it' … and early the next morning he called and said, 'I want it.' I said, 'Fantastic.' So it's worked out very, very well for us."
Sveum says he harbors no ill feelings toward the Cubs. Now back in Chicago for the first time since he was let go, he said he would not have done anything differently and that he found the experience beneficial.
"It was a great experience. You wish them all the best, and things don't work out," Sveum said. "We all have these jobs to get fired someday, and there's not a lot of tenure for most people. It was a great experience in a great city. The best city in the country as far as I'm concerned. We all enjoy coming here all the time on the road and manage the Chicago Cubs and get that experience.
"Managing every day in the National League, obviously the game gets going a little bit in the seventh inning on. So you have all that under your belt that you've done it, and you've done it to the best to your ability. It's a great, great experience, and I'll always thank Theo [Epstein] and the Ricketts family for giving me the opportunity."
Joe Popely is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.