Notes: Butler's bat making noise
Twenty-year-old outfielder leads team with .563 average
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Billy Butler is too young to know he's not supposed to be hitting the ball this well. Only 20 years old, the Kansas City outfielder had another double and drove in another run Friday and is hitting a team-high .563 after eight games.Entering Friday night's split-squad game against the Los Angeles Angels, Butler led the team in doubles (3), hits (9), total bases (15) and was tied with Ryan Shealy for the team lead in RBIs (6). "I'm just glad to make a good impression," said Butler, who was not in the lineup against the Angels. "It's been awesome. I'm having a really good time here. I'm learning a lot, and it's really going to help me in the future." Royals manager Buddy Bell doesn't think Butler will hit his way on to the team, but with each solid outing by the youngster -- two of the outs he made on Friday were hard-hit balls -- it gets harder not to keep this kid around. "He's certainly on his way, we think, to becoming a very good Major League player," Bell said. "But the last thing we want to do is rush him. There's just so many other things involved in his game. We just want to be real careful with Billy and his development." Butler said he isn't worried about where he plays this season and doesn't dwell on his current success. But the kid isn't wide-eyed with awe about it either. "You know, it's one of those things I really don't think about," Butler said. "If you put too much effort into thinking about things, you're going to mess yourself up. I just go up there every time knowing I can get the job done, and it's been going good for me." So good, in fact, you have to wonder where Butler might be going next month. For the moment, his likely destination is Triple-A Omaha. "I have no idea where I'm going. Your guess is as good as mine," Butler said. "All I can do is give 100 percent and show them what I can do." Cutter coming along: Joel Peralta hopes the cut fastball he added late last season and developed during winter ball becomes the pitch he needs to fare better against left-handed hitters this season. "I needed something to go in on left-handed hitters," Peralta said. "I had a lot of trouble against them last year." Overall the right-hander was 1-3 with a 4.40 ERA in 64 games last season. He held right-handed batters to a .234 batting average, while lefties hit .338 against him.
The lefties also slugged .613 against Peralta, some 210 points higher than right-handers. Even though he pitched 35 fewer innings against left-handed batters than he did against right-handers, lefties had just two fewer homers and one more walk against Peralta than right-handers."I started using [a cut fastball] late last year and worked on it a lot in winter ball," Peralta said. "The more I've used it, the better I'm getting controlling it." Peralta said he threw four or five cutters on Friday in his perfect inning of work against the Brewers. He also threw his split-fingered fastball and four seamer. "I need to keep working on [the cutter], but so far, it's coming along good," he said. Quick study: Bell wants new right fielder Mark Teahen to get as many difficult plays as possible this spring to help Teahen learn the new position after moving from third base. Teahen made a difficult catch in Thursday's game, and on Friday night, he cut off Erick Aybar's sharply hit ball to right, holding the Angels second baseman to a single, and when Maicer Izturis followed with a single to right, Teahen made a fine throw to nearly get Aybar at third base. "He's been good," Bell said. "Personally, I was happy to see that, because he hasn't had a lot of chances, and sometimes you can get a little bit more comfortable than you should be out there." Hudson works: Luke Hudson started against the Angels on Friday night and pitched 3 2/3 innings, allowing one run on five hits while walking two and striking out three. The lone run Hudson allowed came on an infield single that third baseman Alex Gordon was unable to come up with cleanly. In 6 2/3 innings this spring, the right-hander has allowed two earned runs. "I threw a little bit more curveballs than I normally do, trying to get the feel of that," Hudson said. "Other than that, I just tried to be aggressive and go after hitters. It's still really early, arm strength needs to come, still have a ways to go on that. Command can always get better." Hudson, expected to be the No. 3 starter in the rotation behind Gil Meche and Odalis Perez, said the outing was an improvement over his first start. "I'm just knocking the rust off a little bit and getting back where we need to be as far as tempo and arm slot, finishing all the pitches and just being down in the zone," he said. Extra bases: Kansas City general manager Dayton Moore said right-hander Joe Nelson, sidelined with a tender shoulder, is scheduled to meet with Dr. Steven Joyce, the Royals' team physician, on Saturday to discuss Nelson's medical options. ... Zack Greinke pitched three innings in his first start and allowed one earned run on five hits in Friday's afternoon game against Milwaukee. The right-hander struck out four and did not issue any walks. ... Joey Gathright went 2-for-4 with three RBIs in the loss to the Brewers. Nunez injured: Royals right-hander Leo Nunez was hit on the right wrist by a line drive off the bat of Kendry Morales during the eighth inning of Friday night's game.
Nunez fell to the ground in obvious pain and was helped from the field by team athletic trainers.
"We don't know yet, he's getting x-rayed right now," Bell said when asked Nunez's status after the game. "(He was hit) on the wrist, you could see the ball mark. Sometimes those things are not as worse as they seem, it's like hitting a ball off your ankle. We don't know yet, he's over at the emergency room right now."
On deck: Kansas City's Jorge De La Rosa starts against the Cubs' Ted Lilly in a matchup of left-handers at 2:05 p.m. CT on Saturday at Surprise Stadium. Brandon Duckworth, Carlos Rosa and John Bale are also scheduled to work for the Royals. Mark Prior is slated to pitch for the Cubs.
Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.