By Larry Fine
(Reuters) - After nine seasons as a Major League Baseball manager Kansas City Royals skipper Ned Yost decided to put games in the hands of his young players, who repaid the trust by reaching the World Series.
Yost said on the eve of Tuesday's World Series opener against the San Francisco Giants that he quit trying to fashion his players into an ideal about two seasons ago and encouraged them to be themselves.
"My mindset was always try to mould my players into what I thought they should be," Yost, who managed the Milwaukee Brewers for six years before joining the Royals in 2010.
"That comes from growing up in an environment with Bobby Cox, who had very strict rules and ideas about the game," added the former catcher who was on the staff of Hall of Fame manager Cox when he took the Atlanta Braves to five World Series.
"But you realize now that it's a different type of player than it was 10 years ago, and a totally different type of player than when I came up.
"One of the big lessons I learned was quit trying to mould them to be like you and just let them be themselves. Allow them to grow and play like they're capable of playing."
Yost said being less rigid also impacted the chemistry.
"I've found it's a lot more relaxed atmosphere. Guys are much more comfortable trying to be themselves instead of somebody who I want them to be.
"I enjoy it much better, too, because I enjoy the kids in that clubhouse and I enjoy their enthusiasm. I enjoy the way that they enjoy playing for each other and the chemistry that they bring inside that locker room."
In returning Kansas City to the playoffs and the World Series for the first time in 29 years, the Royals relied on pitching and defense and have terrorized opponents with their speed and daring as they led the majors in stolen bases.
"This might shock some people, but I don't think I've put a steal sign on all year," the manager said. "All of our running is green-light stuff.
"Again, I get a bunch of criticism on bunting too much, but probably over half of the bunts we put on, they've done themselves."
Yost said he encourages players to use their feel.
"They like the freedom of being able to play the game and the freedom to take chances," added Yost, who sticks up for their choices.
"If they get thrown out, then that's on me, and I can take it," he said. "That's my style of managing. We play to win, not to play safe, not to cover our tails. We play to win."
(Writing by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by ......)