KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Royals shook up their coaching staff Thursday in an attempt to jumpstart their failing offence, making Dale Sveum the hitting coach and Mike Jirschele their third base coach. Pedro Grifol, who took over as hitting coach last season, will now 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. Sveum said the Royals havent done a good enough job this season of hitting pitches in the upper half of the strike zone. "The bottom line is weve struggled with elevation and weve swung at pitches down in the zone probably way too much," he said. "From thigh high to the top of the strike zone, were not doing enough damage." 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. Theyre also last in the American League in runs and slugging percentage. "There is not one man in the lineup thats hitting the ball well," Royals designated hitter Billy Butler said Wednesday. "Were just cold." Yost said "a different voice can make a difference," to struggling batters, but the Royals have heard plenty of voices about hitting: Sveum is Kansas Citys fifth hitting coach in less than three seasons. The Royals let go of Kevin Seitzer two years ago in the hope that somebody else would help the club generate more power. Seitzer was eventually hired by the Blue Jays, who currently lead the majors with 76 homers -- more than Kansas City is on pace for all season. Jack Maloof and Andre David were hired before last season, but they only made it a couple of months before they were reassigned within the franchise. It was at that point that the Royals hired Grifol and Hall of Famer George Brett on an interim basis. The Royals showed signs of life once that duo was in charge, slowly climbing into playoff contention. Grifol was given the job on a full-time basis after Brett stepped down in July, but lasted less than a year in the role. "Hes the one that pulled us out of our trouble last year," Yost said of Grifol Thursday. "A year later, we find ourselves in the exact same spot." Sveum, a former Brewers and Cubs manager, had been serving as the Royals third base coach. But he also has plenty of experience as a hitting coach, helping Milwaukee finish in the top three of the National League in homers in each of his three seasons. "Hes got experience, he studies hitting," Yost said. "Hes got a lot of knowledge. He helped Prince Fielder get, in my opinion, to the next level as an offensive performer." Wholesale Blue Jays Jerseys . The Twins announced Thursday the 28-year-old Albers cleared waivers. He will join the Hanwha Eagles of the Korea Baseball Organization. Custom Toronto Blue Jays Jerseys . City has reached new heights under manager Manuel Pellegrini as they transition from big spending/immediate impact to perennial contender. Yaya Toures seeming discontent Tuesday may complicate that, as does the little issue of Financial Fair Play. https://www.cheapbluejays.com/. A groundswell for raising the number of playoff qualifiers to seven in each conference figures to get plenty of support from the 32 owners. Most notably, Arizonas Bill Bidwill, who saw his Cardinals go 10-6 and not get in, while Green Bay (8-7-1) qualified by winning the NFC North. Blue Jays Jerseys 2020 .com) - Scott Parel carded a 5-under 65 on Thursday and he grabbed a 1-stroke lead after one round of the season-opening Panama Claro Championship. Toronto Blue Jays Pro Shop .com) - SirDominic Pointer posted career highs of 24 points and seven steals to lead No.TORONTO -- The Raptors have talked the talk. Now they have to walk the walk in Brooklyn. Toronto backed up their GMs two-word foray into the world of trash-talk by evening their first-round playoff series with the Nets at one game apiece via a 100-95 win Tuesday night. The series now switches to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for Game 3 Friday and Game 4 Sunday. "Its going to be a new frontier," Toronto coach Dwane Casey said Wednesday prior to flying to New York. "Weve been a good road team in hostile situations, hostile gyms. Our guys have responded." Toronto collected 22 wins on the road this season, tied with Miami and Washington for tops in the Eastern Conference (the 22 road wins would have tied for eighth in the Western Conference). One of those away wins came in Brooklyn, where Toronto was 1-1 this season. The teams also split their two regular-season games at the Air Canada Centre. Add in the first two games of this series and the teams are 3-3 against each other this season. The trash-talking in Toronto has essentially been restricted to general manager Masai Ujiris out-of-nowhere insult to Brooklyn at a fan gathering prior to Game 1. But Ujiris two-word slur continues to loom large. Veteran Net Kevin Garnett, no stranger to trash-talk himself, has openly wondered what the Raptors reception will be given the GMs comment. "I dont know if you can say F Brooklyn and then come into Brooklyn," Garnett said Tuesday night. "So were about to see what its like." Trash-talking is not the 57-year-old Caseys style. A basketball coach on the court and life teacher off it, he understands talking smack is something that fuels a great player like Garnett. But he gives his young charges different advice. "I say play basketball. Youve got to play, stand up for yourself, protect your position and play basketball. Let your game speak for yourself." Toronto guard Kyle Lowry was unconcerned about what awaits in Brooklyn. "Their crowds loud," said Lowry, who points to Portland and Oklahoma City as two of the leagues more hostile stops. "They get real loud, they get chants going. "When you have a good team, your crowd is always going to give you energy. You feed off of it." Does that intimidate you, he was asked? "No. I love it," he answered. In fact, Lowry welcomes life on the road, being on hostile ground, us against the world. "Its fun. Its wwhat you play for.dddddddddddd It brings your competitive nature out even more. Because you want to shut the crowd up." In the Raptors first dip into the post-season waters since 2008, Lowry acknowledged "the lights were probably a little bright" for Game 1. "After that, the lights were dim," he said, meaning the team had adjusted its eyesight to the playoff picture. "Every game were going to get more comfortable," he added. Raptors star DeMar DeRozan, who went from 14 points in Saturdays 94-87 Game 1 loss to 30 points including a string of big baskets late in the Game 2 win, also admitted the playoffs have been a revelation. "Night and day," he said when asked to compare the intensity. "I wouldnt trade it for the world. Its the best feeling, to play at the highest level of basketball. But its definitely night and day because every single thing matters. Everything." Lowry said part of the Raptors coming together has been the team chemistry, which he describes as unbelievable. "I can pick up my phone and call any of my teammates and have a conversation -- serious, joking. Its just cool, its just great to have a group of guys who really get along." "We really are like a band of brothers," he said by way of summary. "Its just a great group of guys," echoed DeRozan. "I think it showed with our play throughout the whole season." That bond has been helped by the many doubters that have decried the team this season, according to Casey who has taken every opportunity to portray his team as the underdogs. "Were all fighting for something ... that bonds you when your back is against the wall," he said. "Theres nobody in the league that gives us a chance against a veteran championship-laden team as Brooklyn, except ourselves." Toronto was the beneficiary of a raucous sellout crowd the first two games of the series. Casey said the ACC atmosphere was better than championship series he has seen. Now its Brooklyns turn to have home-field advantage. "Its a new beginning, a new frontier, a new experience -- that the only way youre going to get it is to go through it," Casey said of playing on the road in the playoffs. "We can talk about it, but I have faith in our guys and confidence in our guys that were going to go in there, as a group, bonded together, and fight together. Thats all we can do." ' ' '