Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Spring Training Notes: February 24

On Sunday, the Royals played a 4 1/2 inning intrasquad game in which Ryan Shealy and Ross Gload hit home runs. Both of these guys may be fighting losing battles considering the logjam at first base this season, but it’s good to see them both swinging the bat well. Alberto Callaspo, affectionately known as “Bert” by Trey Hillman, had two hits.

It’s too early to say who is going to wind up hitting third this season, but David DeJesus is going to at least get a look in the three hole this spring. Bob Dutton pointed out that the combination of players who hit third last season for the Royals only hit .247. DeJesus didn’t fare much better in the 24 games he hit there—hitting just .253, but he has been one of the most consistent hitters on the team over the past few seasons. I’m not convinced he’s a legitimate number three hitter, but he does drive in runs (73 last season—even though he spent the majority of it in the leadoff spot). When you look at the rest of our lineup, DeJesus seems to be the best man possible for the job—unless Alex Gordon finally begins to settle in and drive the ball. DeJesus drove in more runs than Gordon did last season.

The Royals have Derrick Robinson following Coco Crisp around Spring Training to learn as much as he can. Remember the hype about Robinson’s speed when he first signed with the Royals in 2006? Well, he’s living up to the hype so far. In Wilmington last season, he stole 62 bases in 124 games. And he did that with a .245 average. Imagine what could happen if he improved his average by thirty points? In addition to his low batting average, he strikes out way too often for a guy with no power, so he probably won’t see the Major Leagues any time soon. But he seems to be excited about just being in camp. Let’s just hope it helps him.

Tony Pena underwent lasik eye surgery during the offseason and he’s seeing the ball better according to Hillman. In the Dominican Winter League he hit .275 with a .347 OBP—both of which are considerably higher than his career averages (.237 AVG, .255 OBP). I don’t think Mike Aviles is in danger of losing his job at shortstop any time soon, but maybe Pena can find a way to hang on to a Major League job if he is able to improve as much as he did during the DWL.

John Bale is battling a sore shoulder or back, depending on which source you read. Jose Guillen’s sore shoulder and big toe are feeling better. He shagged balls in the outfield during BP recently.

The Royals begin Cactus League play tomorrow afternoon against the Rangers.

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