CHICAGO -- A couple by-products of the Royals' somewhat surprising demotion of former third baseman Alex Gordon to Triple-A Omaha were votes of confidence by the Kansas City organization for Alberto Callaspo as the starting third baseman and Chris Getz as the everyday player at the keystone. With Gordon now being converted to left field in Omaha, the question of who the odd man out will be in the infield seems to have been answered.
For Getz, the news comes at a welcome time. Though the club has considered him the starter at the keystone since Spring Training, on the field, he's struggled with injuries and lack of productivity. In 41 at-bats entering Tuesday's game, Getz was hitting .171 with no extra-base hits.
"Sounds like they are going to continue to give me an opportunity," Getz said. "But I've still got to go out there and perform. Nothing really changes in that aspect. You always feel that sense of urgency [to produce].
"It gives me confidence, because I know there is a good chance I'll be in the lineup that day."
Getz started off the season well enough, picking up five hits in Kansas City's first five games, but went on the disabled list shortly thereafter with a right oblique strain and missed 12 games. Overall, since those first five games, Getz has just two hits in 25 at-bats.
"I was in a situation earlier when I felt pretty comfortable up there, but unfortunately, I got hurt," Getz said. "Now it's just a matter of trying to get that comfort level back. The game can be pretty quick at the big league level, and I'm just trying to slow it down."
Royals manager Trey Hillman has believed in Getz as a regular second baseman since he was acquired from the White Sox last winter.
"I hope so," said Hillman, about whether having the organization commit to Getz might help him to become more productive. "I don't know why Chris would feel any pressure in the first place, other than the inherent pressure of going to a new organization. We sent pretty clear messages in Spring Training about how we wanted things to play out at second base.
"I emphasized to Chris a number of times to just relax and go be a baseball player. He's a pretty good baseball player."
Quad strain forces Ankiel to 15-day DL
CHICAGO -- The Royals placed center fielder Rick Ankiel on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday, retroactive to Monday. Ankiel has been out of the starting lineup since April 24, a span of nine games, with a right quad strain.
"It is slightly improving," said Royals manager Trey Hillman. "When he has to make cuts, it's still got a little grabbing in one localized spot. His body hasn't responded as quick as we'd like."
Ankiel did pinch-hit twice in Kansas City's series against Tampa Bay last weekend, but struck out twice. He's hitting .210 with three home runs and nine RBIs in 19 games this season. He was in uniform before Tuesday's game and went onto the field to stretch and warm up. However, he returned a short time later and changed into his street clothes before departing the visitors' clubhouse.
"We'll see you in Texas," Royals first baseman Billy Butler said as Ankiel left.
The Royals were a man short against the White Sox on Tuesday, but during the game recalled big first baseman Kila Ka'aihue from Triple-A Omaha. Ka'aihue will arrive in time for Wednesday's series finale in Chicago. Ka'aihue, 26, was batting .304 with seven homers and 20 RBIs for Omaha. The home run total was tied for second in the Pacific Coast League. Ka'aihue batted .286 with a home run in 21 at-bats for the Royals during his only previous big league experience, in Sept. 2008.
Mitch Maier had started nine of the past 10 games in center field for the Royals entering Tueday and will likely remain the starter in Ankiel's absence.
"For right now, [we'll go with Maier]," Hillman said. "We'll see what we do with it the next couple of days. Obviously, we'd like to see a little more production offensively."
Offense has cooled after hot start
CHICAGO -- Two weeks ago, the Royals offense was one of the hottest in baseball. Through April 18, Kansas City had lapped the field in the American League with a .309 team batting average and had scored 5.2 runs per game. If not for some shaky work from the bullpen, the Royals could have been one of baseball's Cinderella stories in the early part of the season.
The bats have since gone silent. In Kansas City's past 14 games entering Tuesday, the offense produced a .231 average while putting up just 2.9 runs per game. And it seems to be getting worse. Over the past week, the Royals have scored nine runs in five games, hitting .177.
"It's been a combination [of causes]," said manager Trey Hillman. "A little bit better pitching [by opponents], a little bit better location and a little bit of pressing. The approaches these guys had in Spring Training and brought into the season has been drastically different."
Royals first baseman Billy Butler thinks the team is just in a funk.
"We're just going through a rough patch," said Butler. "We'll get it turned around. We have too many guys on this team that can swing the bat.
"You're going to have bad at-bats, you just can't take them into your next one. That's what being a professional hitter is all about, knowing it's going to get easier next time."
With the team getting fewer runners on base, the early season success the Royals enjoyed on the basepaths has also ebbed. After stealing 17 bases in 18 attempts in their first 12 games, the Royals had swiped five steals in 10 attempts in their past 14 outings entering Tuesday.
"Opportunities have been limited because of what [opponent] pitchers have done to us," said Hillman.
Hillman: Meche's woes not physical
CHICAGO -- After losing Monday's series opener against the White Sox, struggling Royals starter Gil Meche now sports a 0-3 record with an unsightly 9.89 ERA. Is Royals manager Trey Hillman concerned?
"Sure. Wouldn't you be concerned?" Hillman said. "When you have high expectations because you've seen a certain ability level ... you hope it happens sooner than rather later. You need five guys [in the rotation] clicking all together. I just hope he can command the ball better."
The Royals shut down Meche early last September because of right shoulder inflammation, but Hillman doesn't think the problem is physical.
"The only thing I can go on is what comes out of his mouth and the mannerisms you see when he's pitching," Hillman said. "Most of the time you see something different in the mannerisms. I haven't seen anything different."
Mike Aviles was in the starting lineup at shortstop for the Royals on Tuesday, his first start of the season and posted three hits, including a homer. Aviles was the team's Opening Day shortstop last season before missing most of the season following Tommy John surgery and starred there for the Royals in 2008, when he hit .325 and was named the team's Player of the Year. He was recalled from Triple-A Omaha on Sunday. ... Alex Gordon went 0-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts Tuesday in his first start since being sent back to Omaha. He started in left field. Royals general manager Dayton Moore said on Tuesday that the organization is shifting the one-time top prospect to the outfield full time. ... Major League Baseball, in conjunction with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, announced the winners of the 2010 Honorary Bat Girl Contest. The winner for the Royals is cancer survivor Kim Wilkerson of Laclede, Mo., who will be recognized prior to the team's game on May 14 at Kauffman Stadium.
Bradford Doolittle is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.