07/29/2002 7:58 pm ET
MLBeat: Gauging Guiel
Royals will appraise prospect
By Robert Falkoff / MLB.com
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - One issue the Royals want to explore over the next
two months is whether Aaron Guiel is the real deal at the plate.
Guiel has had two impressive stretches as a hitter since being called up
from Triple A Omaha. But there have also been a couple of cold streaks.
Guiel went just 1 for 15 on Kansas City's recent 0-6 road trip and his
average dipped to .233.
Prior to Monday's game against Toronto, manager Tony Pena went to the
videotape, analyzing Guiel's swing through good times and bad times.
"His swing is starting to get a little long," Pena said. "When he first
came up, the swing was short and very quick."
Guiel, 29, spent 10 years in the minors before getting his big chance
this year. The Royals have to find out whether he's the answer in right
field as they look toward developing for 2003.
"I don't see the opposing team pitching him differently now," Pena said.
"Sometimes, a guy will know what he's doing wrong, but he just can't
immediately correct it. You just hope they can find that little piece that's
missing and everything kicks in again."
Guiel was second in the Pacific Coast League in hitting (.353) when the
Royals called him up on June 22.
Big difference: The Royals went into Monday's game with one of the
better home records (29-22) in the American League. But the 14-39 road
record was the worst in baseball. Kansas City was hitting .275 at home and
just .222 on the road.
Why such a huge discrepancy?
"It's hard to explain," third baseman Joe Randa said. "For some reason,
we just haven't swung the bats well on the road. Last year, I thought we
played better on the road than at home. On our last homestand, we were hot
and once we won six or seven games, more people came out and we fed off
that. On the last road trip, we were all just cold and we never got any
Slow progress: First baseman Mike Sweeney reports gradual improvement as
he recovers from a strained back and hip.
"I'm hoping in the next week to two weeks I'll be back," Sweeney said.
"Before I can do anything on the field, I have to wait for my back and hip
to calm down. Once it calms down and I'm pain-free, I can start hitting off
a tee. (Trainer) Nick Swartz and I have become close in the last couple of
Nobody is quite sure how and when Sweeney injured his back and hip.
Sweeney has said he thought it happened when he was riding in the backseat
of a vehicle in Oakland in early July. Swartz thinks Sweeney may have
suffered a residual effect after trying to twist away from a pitch that hit
him in Seattle on July 3.
Royals rumblings: Left-hander Jeremy Affeldt, who is on a rehab
assignment after recovering from blister and cracked nail problems, will
have to build arm strength when he returns to the Royals. Manager Tony Pena
said he'll initially use Affeldt out of the bullpen. "I don't see Affeldt
being in the starting rotation right away," Pena said. . .Chuck Knoblauch
was about the only bright spot on the road trip. He hit .300 and had a
four-hit game. "I believe Chuck still has a long time left in his career,"
Pena said. . .Raul Ibanez went into Monday's game with 30 runs batted in
during July. The club record is 32, set by John Mayberry in July, 1975 and
Jermaine Dye in July, 1999.
Fantasy edge: Closer Roberto Hernandez had six blown saves (28 of 34) in
2001. With two months remaining, he has five blown saves (19 of 24) this
year and his earned run average of 4.91 would be his highest since 1994.