kcroyals.com ran a Hot Stove article assessing the Royals options at first base for 2008.
First base is the Royals looming question mark in the field this year, other than perhaps shortstop, where according to some faithful RR'ers, Pena may end up being uprooted by Callapso. Personally, I think the job is Pena's to lose and he will not lose it unless he does his best Angel Berroa impression or ends up with an injury.
But getting back on topic, first base is a big question mark. Does Butler have the chops to handle the position on a daily basis? Does Shealy roar back from a horrible 2007? Does Teahen spend more time at first this year? Do Shealy/Gload LH/RH platoon at first? Finally, does the least sexy yet most predictable option, Ross Gload, get his chance as an every day player?
The good news is that it seems Hillman is not discounting any of these options.
"It's not quite so cut-and-dried," Hillman said. "Some days it could be [Mark] Teahen. Butler could get some time there. I don't want to count out Ryan Shealy. You've also got Ross [Gload]. Ross could be in left, Ross could be in right, he could be at first base."
The BETTER news from this is that the Royals are not ruling out Butler at first. I was afraid that he would break camp more or less destined to be a lifetime DH. On the contrary, it sounds like he held is own in the Dominican League and it is encouraging that he is reporting to Surprise on January 14 to continue to learn the position.
The BEST news is that I learned something about Shealy's health that I did not realize prior to reading the article. Although he spent most of his time on the DL last year with a supposed groin pull, he apparently had a broken bone in his foot without his knowledge. Such an injury would seriously mess with his balance at the plate, and subsequently, his swing, which must have contributed to his collapse last season.
"Actually, he had a broken bone in his foot," Hillman said. "He's a tough kid, and they didn't even know it was broken."
The bad news about this is it once again speaks poorly about the Royals training staff. How do you diagnose an injury as a groin pull and not realize that someone's foot is broken? Paging Dr. Joyce and Nick Swartz, are you even in the f--king building? To me, such an error is not just a benign mistake; it's a mix of sloppiness and incompetenece that we've come to see too much of from the Royals training staff.
The status quo news - remnants of Buddy Bell will always be with us. It must be a requirement for MLB managers to love grit, or in the new Hillman vocabulary which we must learn - grind.
Like Teahen, he's a left-handed hitter and, after coming off the disabled list, Gload did a nice job in the second half (.293 in 71 games).
"He's a grinder, too, and I'm a liking-grinder-kind of guy," Hillman said.
Alas, some things remain so familiar.