German showing off his versatility
Outfielder, infielder, DH all part of his repertoire for Royals
KANSAS CITY -- Esteban German isn't picky. If he sees his name on the lineup card, it doesn't matter where he's hitting in the order or whether manager Trey Hillman has him penciled in as an infielder, outfielder or designated hitter.
"I'll play anywhere," German said.
The assignment on Saturday was left field. With Mark Teahen still sidelined because of lower back stiffness and Joey Gathright on the disabled list, Hillman went with David DeJesus in center field and Jose Guillen in right. That left an outfield spot for the right-handed-hitting German against Tampa Bay's All-Star lefty Scott Kazmir. German has been one of Kansas City's hottest hitters in recent days.
An infielder by trade, German has worked on his outfield defense to make himself a viable option. Hillman has no qualms about playing German in the outfield when circumstances dictate.
"I think he does a good job moving out there," Hillman said. "Everybody who saw us in Spring Training has a tendency to go back to the twilight game in Peoria when he misjudged a couple of balls. Other than that, I haven't seen Hermy look bad in the outfield at all."
At the plate, German has been an accomplished hitter since joining the Royals for the 2006 season.
"He's just a solid guy," Hillman said. "He does a very good job of giving you a professional at-bat. That's what we're looking for, from No. 1 through No. 9. He sees a lot of pitches. You don't always have to see a lot of pitches to be productive at the plate, but more often than not, when you do see pitches, you're going to be more productive."
German got off to a slow start this year with limited at-bats. But he has picked it up in the summer heat. Prior to Saturday's game, German was 14-of-34 (.412) with seven RBIs over his past 15 games.
German periodically finds himself at second or third base if Mark Grudzielanek or Alex Gordon need a breather. And when he goes to the outfield, he's not uncomfortable.
"The coaches work with me and I take a lot of fly balls and ground balls in the outfield during batting practice," German said. "You have to react quickly in left field. There's not a lot of time to adjust. Your first step has to be the right step."
Bob Falkoff is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.