It’s a grim math that awaits the Royals when they return Friday night from the All-Star break with the first of three key weekend games against first-place Detroit at Kauffman Stadium.

A disastrous five-game skid just prior to the break positions the Royals at 43-49 and a season-high eight games behind the Tigers with the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline fast approaching.

Even so, general manager Dayton Moore sure doesn’t sound like a man in “sell” mode and intent on recalibrating his sites for 2014.

“I look at the talent level on our team,” he said, “and I feel like we’re going to continue to get better. We’re going to do everything we can to win games every single night from this day until September 30.

“We’re not going to back off that. We’re going to keep pushing. We’re going to keep expecting our players to get better. There’s a lot of upside to these players individually and collectively as a team.”

That doesn’t mean Moore won’t consider a deal that offers long-term benefits, but he insisted he’s not interested in taking a “step back” into the short term to do so.

“If it’s a player who is going to help us now and for the future,” he said, “we’ll do it. But we’re not going to abandon the process of what we’re trying to do. Our team has been very streaky. I understand that.

“But even our tough spells, we’ve been right in those games. We’ve played very competitive baseball from the first day of the season. There’s no reason for us to believe we won’t continue to get better.”

Even so, other clubs are watching to see when/if the Royals signal a willingness to take offers on veteran right-hander Ervin Santana, who is scheduled to start Friday’s opener agains the Tigers.