Fields, Getz provide options for Royals
Where newcomers fit could be big part of 2010 equation
KANSAS CITY -- Josh Fields and Chris Getz came to the Royals as a package, bundled up with a bow as the White Sox part of a gift exchange for Mark Teahen.
That was way back in November, one of the opening shots of the trading season. Now, as Spring Training approaches, there's still some uncertainty about just how these two players will fit into the Royals' lineup.
Manager Trey Hillman seems most settled about Getz, a rookie second baseman last year.
"Going into Spring Training, we like Chris at second base, but the question becomes how do you get A.C. [Alberto Callaspo] in the lineup? There's no doubt I want [Callaspo's] bat in there," Hillman said. "And until we're sure that Mike Aviles is ready, we want to look at Chris at short as well, because he is rangy and he's got foot speed. I want to see what he looks like as security, for lack of a better word, at shortstop. I want the primary position for Alberto to be second and then third. I want the primary position for Getz to be second and then short."
So, initially at least, it appears that Getz is considered the starting second-sacker.
For Fields, a third baseman that has also played in the outfield, the picture is fuzzier.
"I want the primary position for Fields to be third and then left. After we see him in left, we might jump him over to right to see how that would go, too," Hillman said.
Of course, Hillman has been clear that Alex Gordon is considered the starting third baseman for now. And Hillman's remark about Fields in the outfield was made before the Kauffman Stadium pasture got more crowded with the signing of center fielder Rick Ankiel.
General manager Dayton Moore declared the starting outfield as Scott Podsednik in left and David DeJesus in right, flanking Ankiel. That nudges Jose Guillen into the designated-hitter spot, further limiting Fields' horizons.
Invariably when Hillman discusses Fields, he mentions his background as a quarterback at Oklahoma State. Hillman has studied Fields' football statistics and successes, which include passing for 2,494 yards and 21 touchdowns in the Cowboys' 9-4 season of 2003.
"I take it as a compliment," Fields said. "Maybe he's just meaning more from the athletic standpoint than just playing quarterback. I don't think I'll be playing quarterback for the Royals any time soon."
Hillman's point is that a guy who can play quarterback in the Big 12 is certainly athletic enough to play the outfield or third base -- or even first base if necessary.
"Or maybe he's just telling you that if things don't work out, he'll just ship me over right cross the street," Fields said.
Across the street from Kauffman Stadium, of course, is Arrowhead Stadium, home of the NFL Chiefs. So Fields does have a sense of humor about it.
The most eye-opening thing about Fields' baseball stats is that he popped 23 home runs in 100 games as a White Sox rookie in 2007. Yet, in 2008, he wound up at Triple-A Charlotte.
"I was up my rookie year because [Joe] Crede had back surgery. They were going to trade him, and they couldn't trade him, and I was the odd man out. It wasn't because I didn't produce or anything like that. There was no spot [for me]," Fields said.
Still, going from a fine rookie year in the Majors back to the Minors was something of a jolt.
"It was kind of a mental thing that took a little bit to get over, but it's a humbling experience and you can only learn in situations like that," Fields said. "You think you're on top of the world at one point, and then the next time, you kind of see where you stand. I've learned a lot from being in those situations and I'm excited about a fresh start here. Hopefully I can put all that knowledge to use."
Getz's arrival has the potential of leaving Callaspo, a .300 hitter with 60 extra-base hits and 73 RBIs last season, in a state of limbo as well. Even so, Getz views him as a formidable rival.
"He had a solid year," Getz said. "You know, these things seem to work themselves out in some fashion. Obviously, you'd like it to be a little more definite, but in baseball it's never really the case. There's competition coming from all angles."
What Getz promises to provide, however, is better defense at second base and certainly more speed on the bases. He had 25 steals last year while batting .261 with a .324 on-base percentage.
"I'd say I'm a contact guy, on-base, a table-setter kind of guy that'll work counts. I love going the other way, I like hitting behind runners, I love hitting-and-running," Getz said. "That's the kind of a style I try to do out there, and when I reach base, I try to create havoc -- [go from] first to third, scoring, stealing bases."
If shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt runs into trouble along the way and Aviles isn't ready after Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery, Getz might be poised to take over that position if his Spring Training trials go well.
"I'm open for whatever," Getz said. "Whatever gets me into the lineup. I played some shortstop in the Minor Leagues and a decent amount in Triple-A."
The big, wide-screen picture going into drills at Surprise, Ariz., seems to have Hillman moving and shuffling and experimenting with a lot of players.
"I would like as much as anybody else to have a set lineup, set positions," Hillman said. "It may end up working out that way, but ..."
But right now, it's anybody's guess.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.