Gload accepts role, but eyes at-bats
Consistent hitter off the bench helps bring depth to KC
PHOENIX -- One of manager Buddy Bell's missions this season is to find more at-bats for Ross Gload.Gload hit .327 in 77 games last season and .321 in 104 games in 2004 with the White Sox. Gload, whom the Royals acquired in a Dec. 16 trade for left-hander Andrew Sisco, owns a .308 average in three seasons in the American League, but that consists of only 494 at-bats. It had to be difficult to keep a .327 hitter on the bench in 2006. "Not when you've got good players ahead of you," Gload said. "You want your starters to do good and keep your bench guys fresh and healthy. That was my job there, so that's what I did." Gload has had ample at-bats in Spring Training, hitting .459 with a .757 slugging percentage in 14 games, while playing first base and the outfield. Gload knows, however, it is easier to get playing time for the non-regulars in March than once the season starts. Gload had a meager five at-bats last April and only 23 the first two months "Plenty of times," Gload said when asked if he has had to sit a week without playing. "You have a lot of days off early. Once the season gets going, things work their way out." Once Gload's playing time increased last season so did his batting average - hitting .353 after May 31. Bell would like to make sure Gload does not sit for lengthy stretches this year. "[Bell] said he was going to try to get me in," Gload said. "I'm sure I'm going to back up at a lot of different positions if things fall into place. If everyone stays healthy and plays 162 games, I probably won't play that much at all. Guys have got to stay healthy. It takes 25 guys to win games. He'll pick spots to get me in there." Gload, who turns 31 on April 5, has accepted the utility role. "If it keeps me in the big leagues, six, seven, eight years, I'll be more than happy," he said. "I'm glad I have a uniform. I've been told basically my whole career until I got here that I wasn't going to get here. Hopefully now I can do it here, accept the role and do it well because someone has got to be the 25th guy on the roster." Gload, who was a 13th-round pick of the Marlins in 1997, called the trade to the Royals "a shock." "No one asks you if you wanted to get traded," Gload said. "But once I talked to Buddy and Dayton [Moore, general manger], they said it would be a good thing, so I've turned the corner and got prepared to come here. One day you're with the White Sox and the next day you're with the Royals. I've had a whole offseason to let it sink in. Once I decided Kansas City is going to be where I was, I focused my attention here."
Alan Eskew is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.