SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Royals are unveiling a new weapon in Spring Training: Billy Butler, base-stealer.
Butler, who has only one stolen base in his big league career, swiped second base in the first inning of the Royals' 4-2 victory over the Texas Rangers on Sunday. He was on base after drilling a two-run single.
"Billy got one in the intrasquad game the other day, too," manager Ned Yost said. "You can pick your spots in those situations, and we're looking to do that whenever we can."
Yost wants to upgrade the Royals' baserunning this year, taking an extra base on hits and getting more steals -- even from an unlikely source like Butler.
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"He's pretty much turned us loose, and if I don't abuse it, we can expand on it," Butler said.
Yost figures that Butler could get up to 10 steals a season by picking his spots.
"I have one in my career, and Ned's going to be a little more aggressive than managers we've had in the past," Butler said.
Yost frequently points out that even a big guy like Prince Fielder stole bases for him at Milwaukee, including seven in 2006.
"Teams really don't pay attention to me over there and, if I get a good jump like I did today, I can sneak a few in the right situations," Butler said.
That could be a good thing for the Royals on the field, but not such a good thing for Mike Aviles' ears in the clubhouse.
"He's really been getting on me and Mitch [Maier] that he leads us in stolen bases because he got one in intrasquad," Aviles said with a smile. "Now, he really leads us in stolen bases -- you might want to write that down: 'Butler leads team in stolen bases.'"
Aviles vows he'll do something to head off seeing that headline too often.
"I'm going to try to steal a base myself, so at least we're tied," he said.
Butler, though, says he's going to have some stolen-base attempts this year.
"He'll surprise some people," Yost said.
That's the idea.
Royals' arms come up big in spring opener
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- It was a good start for the Royals' pitching staff in the Cactus League season -- just two runs on seven hits against the American League champion Rangers on Sunday.
Potential starters Kyle Davies and Bruce Chen each logged two shutout innings, both giving up one hit. Nate Adcock, Tim Collins, Luis Mendoza and Kevin Pucetas each had one scoreless inning.
"Very, very, very good today," manager Ned Yost said. "I was very pleased with the pitching. I thought Kyle Davies was very sharp, Bruce [Chen] was very sharp. Everybody threw the ball very well."
Yost was even happy with Louis Coleman, even though he gave up a two-run homer on a 2-0 pitch to Doug Deeds for the Rangers' only runs.
"He was around the plate," Yost said.
Chen gave up the only walk through first eight innings, before Pucetas issued two in the ninth. The seven pitchers combined for 10 strikeouts -- including three by Davies.
The pitchers worked in rather cool weather -- it was 51 degrees at game time -- but it was sunny after an overnight rain. Attendance for the two teams' first Cactus League game was announced as 5,385.
'Frenchy' enjoys reunion with former teammates
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Jeff Francoeur got a kick out of playing Sunday against his teammates from last year's Texas Rangers World Series team.
Especially when he cracked a leadoff home run in the Royals' fourth inning against David Bush.
Even though the Royals share the Surprise training facility with the Rangers, the two teams rarely see each other -- except when they compete on the field.
"It felt good to see those guys' faces over there today, too," Francoeur said. "Because you're kind of in the complex with 'em, but you don't see 'em. And what a great time I had with them last year, going to the World Series -- it'll always hold a special place in my heart. So obviously, to see those guys out there today was a lot of fun. And to get [a homer] against them was even cooler."
Francoeur, who signed as a free agent, had two at-bats as the starting right fielder. Against C.J. Wilson in the first inning, he hit a hard grounder up the middle, but second baseman Ian Kinsler took a hit away with a fine play and threw him out.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.