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Mike Moustakas talks hitting, Ned Yost, and Alex Gordon

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We chat with the Royals third baseman about his career season

Mike Moustakas is coming off a career season that culminated in being World Champions. The 27-year old third baseman recently partnered with Stouffers Fit Kitchen and took some time to chat with us about their meals, his season, and what Alex Gordon means to this team.

You had a career season last year and became a real offensive threat, due to a changed approach at the plate. When did you decide you wanted to start hitting the ball the opposite field more?

I looked at my year last year, and I saw I didn't do what I was capable of doing. I had to go out there and make some adjustments and see what I would be able to do to get better. When you have eight guys on the right side of the field and the left side is completely open, it's obvious what you need to do. So I took it upon myself in the off-season to work on driving the ball to the left side. I got to spring training, and Dale Sveum really dialed it in with me. I kept working hard, got an approach I felt comfortable with, and stuck with it even when things weren't going well. I ended up having a great season and winning the World Series.

What exactly was it that changed about your approach? Looking for pitches away? Changing your hands or footwork?

It's a lot of different small things that really accumulate. I completely tried to shut down on the inside pitch. I don't want to swing on pitches on the inner third. I look for a ball on the outside of the plate that I can drive to left field. I try to stand a bit deeper in the box. More than anything, it's a mental change. Growing up in the minor leagues, I hit a lot of homers and to not try to hit homers all the time is a reality check. You have to humble yourself and go out there and really dial it in.

You guys were noted for your ability to come back all post-season. In Game 4 against Houston, you had an epic comeback, overcoming a 6-2 deficit, and you reportedly gave an inspirational pep talk during that game to fire up the troops. Would you care to share what you said to the team?

I might be more vocal on the field, but Alex Gordon is our captain. He's what gets us going and what keeps us going.

I just went in the dugout, and I was a bit more emotional and fired up, but I was like "I'm not ready to go home yet, I want to keep playing. We're not going home."

That's a bit calmer than what it sounded like. But I told them "I love California, but I'm not ready to go back and play golf. So let's figure out a way to win this ballgame and keep it going."

It seems like you are emerging as a leader on this team – is that fair? Who else is vocal in that clubhouse?

The thing about our team is everyone is a leader. Everybody is accountable. Everybody brings something to the table. I might be more vocal on the field, but Alex Gordon is our captain. He's what gets us going and what keeps us going. LoCain, Hos, even Jonny Gomes who came in late - the whole team has a bunch of guys that are leaders. I think we've all been playing together for so long that we all know what each other are going to do. We know each other's personality, so we're able to transition smoothly when we have those rough patches.

Speaking of Gordon, have you kept in touch with him? Are you optimistic he returns to Kansas City?

Yeah, I'm definitely hoping he comes back for sure, but him being a free agent - he earned that right by staying in the big leagues as long as he did. Free agency is awesome, you get to choose where you want to go play, and he's going to do what's best for him and his family. I'm excited for him. I'm glad I got the opportunity to play with him, and I wish him nothing but the best.

I did talk to him the other day, we talked about fantasy football. We're in the championship game against each other. But we'll see what happens.

Did you have a favorite athlete or team as a kid?

My favorite athlete is Kobe Bryant. Part of the reason I wear number eight is because of him, and I love watching him play. I love Ken Griffey Jr. as a baseball player. I'm a little young to have seen him, but my dad always told me stories about Mickey Mantle, so he's my overall favorite athlete of all-time.

Ned Yost seems to get dismissed by the national media, but among his strengths seem to be managing the clubhouse. What kind of manager is he and what is it about Ned that gets results that the national media is missing?

He gets us to play loose and have fun. As a manager you just want to get the best out of your players. He realizes we're a young fun bunch of guys that like to have fun on the field and in the clubhouse. Instead of trying to calm us down, he lets us have fun and play the game hard.

He comes in the clubhouse after each game, and win or lose he has a positive attitude, a positive mindset. He always brings positive energy to the clubhouse. If we win, he'll dance a little bit and sing. He'll show us stuff on his Ipad about what he's up to in Atlanta. He's just one of the guys. When it comes to game time, we go to battle for him.

Be honest – what were you thinking when you saw Eric Hosmer take off for home in Game Five of the World Series against the Mets?

Oh man. He started running, and I put my hands on my head and said "oh my god." It's so hard to control your emotions, especially during the World Series. I can't even remember what I was thinking or what I was feeling, I just remember I put my hands on my head and said "he's going, he's actually going." When he scored, it was just pure happiness after that.

You’re here to talk about Stouffers Fit meals, tell us about your offseason and how Stouffers fits into your conditioning and nutrition.

It's helped me out a lot. After a workout when my wife's not around, I can pop one of these in and get my amount of protein I need after a workout. They have some delicious flavors that they have been able to come up with and it's been fun to partner with them. We'll have a tailgate on the January 3 at the Chiefs game, and it should be a lot of fun.

Many thanks to Mike Moustakas for his time and Stouffers for setting up an interview.

Mike Moustakas will be hosting the Fit Kitchen Tailgate Takeover in Kansas City before the Chiefs game on January 3 to introduce Stouffer’s Fit Kitchen to fans, giving them an opportunity to sample Fit Kitchen and play games for a chance to win an upgraded game experience. Follow @Stouffers for more information on Fit Kitchen and the tailgate.

STOUFFER’S has introduced a line of frozen entrees called STOUFFER’S Fit Kitchen, which offer a delicious blend of protein, complex carbs, and vegetables in every savory dish. Each Fit Kitchen meal includes 25 grams of protein or more, delivering a nutritious meal that fuels a balanced lifestyle. Nutritious meals, like the Stouffer’s Fit Kitchen options, play an important role in helping athletes like Mike Moustakas stay fit throughout the year and can help you stay fit – whatever fit means to you – as well.