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04/13/08 2:59 PM ET
Royals not blaming cold for troubles
Hillman says hitters need to focus on having better at-bats
By Alan Eskew / Special to MLB.com
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals have played through rain and through cold -- it was a bone-chilling wind chill of 29 degrees for the first pitch on Sunday -- on this six-game homestand. The Royals' bats had been as frigid as the temperatures before KC ended a 26-inning scoreless drought Sunday against the Twins when Billy Butler's two-out single in the first scored Joey Gathright. In the first five games at Kauffman Stadium, the Royals had a .345 slugging percentage with only nine extra-base hits -- eight doubles and a John Buck home run. So can the Royals blame the bad weather on the poor offensive start? "I'm not big on alibiing when we're not productive," Royals manager Trey Hillman said before the game. "Honestly, the last three or four days I haven't felt like it is because it is so cold outside; we're having bad [at-bats]." Hillman said there is "a different sensation" on how your body feels playing in the cold weather. "You mis-hit a ball in this weather, and exponentially it hurts a lot more than it does in warm weather," Hillman said. "That can make you more tentative. I haven't seen us with a tentative approach. I've seen us with a lack of focus with what we're firing on. I haven't seen us take careful swings. I just haven't seen us focused and locked into our hot zones as good as we should have, and then make adjustments to nasty pitches to get another pitch by fouling pitches off. "It is different, though. I've played games in colder conditions than these. More than anything else, it's a mental battle. You do get frustrated not scoring runs. I'd be a lot more frustrated if I thought the weather was the determining factor. I think it's been a part of it. I think we would have swung the bats better if it had been warmer weather. But the bottom line, for me, is we haven't been real tentative. "We're still unloading the barrel. I just don't think we've unloaded it at quality pitches with the consistency we need to be able to plate runs. We've had some individual guys get out of their original plans. For me, that's been overanxious. You just try to tame that a little bit and try to get a little more focused on what you're unloading at."
Alan Eskew is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.