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04/12/08 7:15 PM ET
Royals make changes to batting order
Guillen, Butler trade spots; Gathright moved to No. 9 spot
By Alan Eskew / Special to MLB.com
KANSAS CITY -- Royals manager Trey Hillman shook up his batting order Saturday, dropping Jose Guillen from cleanup to the fifth spot and moving Alberto Callaspo to the leadoff role. While the Royals entered Saturday with a .266 batting average, which ranked second in the American League, they were tied for last with 40 runs and were last with a .380 slugging percentage and a .321 on-base percentage. Billy Butler, who hit fifth in the first 10 games, moved into the cleanup slot. Joey Gathright, who had been at the top of the lineup for the past nine games, was dropped to ninth. "We changed it up a little bit," Hillman said. "I believe Jose has been pressing a little bit, so we're flip-flopping him and Billy. Hopefully that will give [Guillen] a little bit more of a comfort level. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't. We'll see how it goes." Guillen struck out with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth inning on Friday night against the Twins and is hitting just .146 with two extra-base hits, both doubles, in the first 10 games. Butler, meanwhile, took a 10-game hitting streak into the Saturday night game against the Twins. Callaspo, who hit .349 in Spring Training, had a .357 average in the first five games he had played. "We put A.C. in the one-spot," Hillman said. "He's made some good, consistent contact. Speed-wise, he is not your prototypical leadoff guy, but as far as on-base percentage and ability to know the strike zone, he is. It will take a little pressure off Joey and hopefully help him get his balance back, and we'll have speed down at the bottom." Alex Gordon began the season hitting third, but struggled early. Hillman dropped him to the sixth slot and he immediately went on a six-game hitting streak. "I think that's helped a little bit," Hillman said. Mark Teahen is hitting .343 with a .452 on-base percentage and leads the clubs with seven walks. "Teahen's done a great job in that three spot," Hillman said. "The thing that both of them have going on very well right now -- and Mark more so than anyone on the club as far as I'm concerned -- even when they are taking pitches, they are taking pitches in very balanced positions. That's really a real good sign. "When you see a guy taking pitches and having a feel for the strike zone the way that Mark does right now, that usually leads you into production offensively. He's been doing both -- on-base percentage and production." Callaspo started at shortstop for the second straight night as Tony Pena Jr., who is hitless in his past 22 at-bats and is 1-for-27 for the season, was again not in the lineup. "I can't answer that," Hillman said when asked how much time Pena would get off. "I'd like to see A.C. get a chance to put at-bats together on back-to-back days and we'll go from there. I told Tony I'm far from giving up on him. I'm not panicking. I just want to give him a chance to catch his breath a little bit and get a couple of good days of work in [hitting]. Tony is our starting shortstop. A.C. is going to play." Miguel Olivo also made his second start at catcher, with John Buck getting a rest.
Alan Eskew is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.