KANSAS CITY -- In case you couldn't tell from the frequent chorus of "Mooooooose" coming from the stands at Kauffman Stadium on Thursday, Mike Moustakas had a pretty good night.
Moustakas was 2-for-4 with a solo home run and a two-run single in Thursday night's 4-3 win over the Yankees. In the top of the ninth inning, he also made a spectacular play on a ground ball hit by Alex Rodriguez to end the game.
The night was an example of what's becoming a trend for the young third baseman. In his last 10 games coming into Friday night, Moustakas was hitting .432 with two home runs and eight RBIs, and he had gone hitless only once.
And Thursday night's spectacular play wasn't the first this season. Moustakas has made several gems at the hot corner, and the many that have come at home have elicited the same response from the crowd.
Royals manager Ned Yost said Moustakas has worked hard to improve his defense from last season.
"It's definitely improved, but it's improved for a reason, because he's worked extremely hard at it," Yost said. "He spent the whole winter getting himself in great shape and started working from Day 1 in Spring Training. It's a progression that still happens day to day here."
Moustakas is far from reaching the popularity of fellow third baseman George Brett -- the Hall of Famer who will be honored on Saturday with a Mini Pine Tar Bat promotional giveaway to the first 20,000 fans -- but Moustakas has one thing Brett never did.
Royals don't blame Mo for shagging flies
KANSAS CITY -- A day after Yankees closer Mariano Rivera tore the anterior crucial ligament in his right knee on the warning track at Kauffman Stadium during batting practice, the people who call the ballpark home offered their reactions.
"It's sad; it's unfortunate for him and the Yankees," Royals pitcher Aaron Crow said. "He's one of the best pitchers of all time. ... It's sad, and my prayers go out to him."
Both Crow and fellow reliever Tim Collins were surprised that something so serious could happen while doing something as simple as shagging balls during BP.
"A lot of us like to do that," Collins said. "Myself, I like to go out there and get some running in while the outfielders are hitting. It's something that, you don't go out there and think, 'I might get hurt from running around too much.' You obviously have got to be careful. It's so meaningless that you could potentially hurt yourself like he did, just shagging BP. You've got to be careful."
Royals manager Ned Yost said that he didn't expect any big changes to the way players throughout the league warm up before games, and he didn't blame Rivera's routine for the injury.
"People don't live with us; they don't understand the day-to-day, minute-by-minute preparation that goes into this game and what it takes a player to get ready," Yost said. "He was doing something as benign as shagging in the outfield. He wasn't crashing into a wall. He just went back to catch a ball, and somehow his leg gave out."
Cain aims to return to Royals within two months
KANSAS CITY -- Center fielder Lorenzo Cain, checking in at the Royals' clubhouse this week, said the forecast is for him to miss another four to eight weeks as his left hip flexor heals.
Cain was about ready to return from his injury rehab for a left groin strain with Double-A Northwest Arkansas last week when another injury occurred to the same leg.
"In the first inning, I went back for a fly ball and a sharp pain hit my leg, and it kind of started tingling," Cain said. "Something didn't feel right, and they took me out of the game. I flew to K.C. the next day for an MRI, and that's when I found out it was torn."
Cain is taking it slow now, icing the injury, with rehab work ahead of him at the Royals' training facility at Surprise, Ariz.
Paulino expects no limitations in season debut
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals are slowly getting back to full strength.
Right-hander Felipe Paulino will return from the disabled list on Saturday and start for the Royals against the Yankees at Kauffman Stadium.
Paulino, sidelined since the end of Spring Training with a right forearm sprain, said that he feels like he can do all the things he could before the injury and that he's glad to be back.
"That's what I've been working on in the Minor Leagues, trying to be a good pitcher, strike people out, throw 100 pitches, plus," Paulino said. "But now, I believe by myself that I can do this. The good thing is that I'm back to the mound."
A deep first outing from Paulino would benefit the Royals, who have seen starters exit early far too often this season.
"We haven't been getting a lot of deep games from our starting rotation," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Our bullpen guys are pitching a little more than I hoped that they would pitch to this time, but it is what it is, and you just deal with it."
Facing the power-laden Yankees lineup isn't necessarily the easiest task for a pitcher making his first start of the season, but Paulino is ready for the challenge.
"I'm going to try to do my job," Paulino said. "It's the Yankees, but I'll take it like any other team. I'll just go up there with my game plan and do the best I can do to give a chance to the Royals to win the game."
Hosmer, Perez set to meet up with fans
KANSAS CITY -- A pair of Royals players will be out and about in the Kansas City area on Saturday before the team takes on the Yankees at 6:10 p.m. CT.
Catcher Salvador Perez will appear at the Cinco de Mayo Community Fiesta hosted by the Guadalupe Center from noon to 12:45 p.m. Perez will be on hand to meet fans during the celebration at the Guadalupe Center located at 1015 Avenida Cesar E. Chavez in Kansas City.
Fans will also be able to meet first baseman Eric Hosmer on Saturday. He'll be at the Kansas Sampler in Lenexa, Kan., from 11 a.m. to noon, meeting fans and signing autographs. The store is located at 9750 Quivira across from the Oak Park Mall.