By ERIC BARTON
In one moment on Sunday, in this play at the plate, it became clear whatmost of the Royals are missing.
It came in the bottom of the first during the Royals loss to the Cardinals. Royals outfielder David DeJesus came barreling toward home plate as Cards catcher Jason LaRue got a bullet of a throw from left field. DeJesus put his shouder down into LaRue. LaRue went toppling backwards, holding on to the ball, and DeJesus bounced off of the catcher's chest. Still in the air, DeJesus landed on LaRue's helmet, the metal cage catching him right between the ribs. It looked painful. Really, it looked like it hurt like hell.
But during the multiple replays of the out that followed, you could see DeJesus turning his head awkwardly just after he fell on the mask.
He appeared to be looking back to see if LaRue had managed to hold on to the ball. There he was, possibly breaking a rib or two, and DeJesus is spinning around to see if he's safe.
And that's also what's missing from most of the Royals. If it had been underachiever-of-the-year Billy Butler who took that tumble, would he have really cared enough to check the call instead of checking his injury? Or how about the chronically bored-looking Mark Teahen? Forget about Tony Pena Jr., who appears to possess great fielding prowess some plays but a lack of attention on others. Even this year's surprise ace, Zach Grienke, rarely shows a passion for the game.
No, it's only the Royals lead-off man who regularly smiles during interviews, who busts his ass to first on routine grounders, and who has quietly endured multiple 100-loss seasons.
Here's hoping the rib injury doesn't keep his enthusiasm on the bench.