04/09/08 7:00 PM ET
If needed, German may catch for KC
Manager Hillman fond of infielder's versatility defensively
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
Other than John Buck and Miguel Olivo, no one on the roster has any catching experience. None that they'll admit to, anyway. But manager Trey Hillman has a backup plan.
His name is Esteban German. Yep, the versatile guy who has played every position for the Royals except pitcher and catcher. Hillman brought the idea up to German on Saturday in Minneapolis.
"He said, 'You can do it,'" German said, grinning. "I said, 'OK, I'll try it.'"
It's such a long shot that the Royals won't even issue German any catching gear. He can borrow that and, besides, another catcher, such as Triple-A Omaha's Matt Tupman, is just a phone call and hours away.
"We'll ease him into it," Hillman said. "I told Hermie it was just emergency, emergency, emergency only."
Hillman discussed the possibility in Spring Training of occasionally using Olivo as the designated hitter. Of course, if that happened and Buck were to be injured, the obvious thing would be to move Olivo behind the plate and give up the DH. But what if Olivo were hurt or ejected?
"He has never [caught], but I have no reservations -- he's athletic enough," Hillman said. "I learned it within two weeks of my first season in Double-A, and if Trey Hillman can do it in Double-A, I'm sure Esteban German, with his much better athleticism, can do it in the Major Leagues."
German will get some instruction from bullpen coach John Mizerock and do some catching work about once a week.
"He understands that I don't want to affect his lower half with too much squatting," Hillman said."He runs well, he moves well -- he has no knee trouble."
Since Hillman has done some catching, he was asked what was the most elementary requirement.
"No flinching," he said.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.