MLB notebook: Royals shuffle coaching staff

| Thursday, May 29, 2014, 8:30 p.m.

The Royals shook up their coaching staff Thursday in an attempt to jump-start their failing offense, making former Cubs manager Dale Sveum the hitting coach and Mike Jirschele their third base coach.

Pedro Grifol, who took over as hitting coach last season, now will instruct catchers.

The moves were announced after the Royals finished off a disastrous homestand that included a sweep at the hands of Houston, and before they opened a four-game series in Toronto.

“It's a little bit embarrassing,” Royals manager Ned Yost said after a 9-3 loss to the Astros on Wednesday night. “We've got a team that is underperforming offensively.”

The Royals began the day last in the majors with 21 homers, putting them on pace to match the 1976 club for the fewest in franchise history for a non-strike-shortened season.

The club also was last in the American League in runs and slugging percentage.

“There is not one man in the lineup that's hitting the ball well,” said Royals designated hitter Billy Butler, who is hitting just .235 with one homer. “We're just cold.”

Sveum is the fifth hitting coach the Royals have had in less than three seasons.

Beltran tests ailing elbow

Outfielder Carlos Beltran tested his injured right elbow with 25 swings from each side of the plate, and the Yankees say the slugger did not experience any discomfort.

Beltran worked out in the home batting cage at Yankee Stadium, with hitting coach Kevin Long on soft-toss duties. He is scheduled for the same exercise Friday.

Beltran has a bone spur in his elbow, and the eight-time All-Star is hoping to avoid surgery.

The Yankees also announced that Mark Teixeira saw Dr. Keith Raskin, who confirmed that the first baseman has inflammation in his surgically repaired right wrist. Teixeira is day-to-day.

Around the league

The Marlins downplayed right-hander Henderson Alvarez's early exit from Wednesday's game with what the team originally termed elbow stiffness. Following the Marlins' 8-5 win over the Nationals, Alvarez said he felt tightness in his arm but doesn't believe it will prevent him from making his next start. Alvarez was seemingly in command, as he held the Nationals without a run on five hits through five innings. He was removed after throwing 62 pitches. There was no drop in his velocity. “I think he's fine. He wanted to keep pitching but we wanted to make sure it didn't become anything serious,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. ... Dodgers reliever Chris Withrow was diagnosed with a ligament tear in his right elbow and been told he needs Tommy John surgery. The team said the right-hander was examined last week by a team physician, who diagnosed a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament. Withrow went on the disabled list and will proceed after consulting another doctor next week. Withrow last pitched for the Dodgers on May 20 in New York.

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