Bell becoming impatient with offense
Lack of aggressiveness early in the count troubles skipper
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Yes, the Royals are hitting .309 and have scored 104 runs in 18 Spring Training games, but manager Buddy Bell is not all that happy with his bats.In a 6-3 loss on Saturday to the Diamondbacks before 10,674 fans, the second largest crowd in Surprise Stadium history, the Royals managed just seven hits, six of them singles, and struck out eight times. Starter Gil Meche didn't make it out of the fourth inning, but that did not concern Bell. "He got his work in," Bell said. "I'm not worried about him. I'm worried about the offense more than anything. It's awful. It's about as bad ..." Bell did not finish the sentence, nor did he need to. The Royals' lack of a clutch hit early told the story. The Royals scored a run in the first and had the bases loaded with one out, but Reggie Sanders popped up to the catcher and Ryan Shealy's grounder to shortstop forced out Alex Gordon at second base to end the inning. In the second, the Royals scored two more runs, but Alex Sanchez scored the second run when Ross Gload grounded into a double play with runners on the corners and none out. The Royals again loaded the bases in the fifth on a Gload single and two walks, but Shealy took a called third strike to end the inning without a runner crossing the plate. "We need to start swinging the bats, start getting after it, be more aggressive," Bell said. "That's not just today. I've been seeing that for awhile. We need to get it going down here a little more than we have.
"I just don't think we're aggressive enough. How many third strikes did we take today -- seven or eight? That's not good. And I realize some of them are kids that we bring up. I'm not talking about them."Shealy, Gload and Sanders, however, are players the Royals will be counting on when the season starts. "I think we can be better," Bell said. "I just think we need to get better. I think we need to be more aggressive early in the count. I just think we are capable of doing a lot more offensively than we have up to this point. I understand that you kind of go through ups and downs in Spring Training, whether it is pitching or offense." With the season opening on April 2 against the Red Sox, Bell wants to see his offense pick it up the next two weeks. "I get a little impatient," Bell said. "I just want us to be hitting some sort of stride when we go into the season, so I get a little anxious with it. You can always do better."
Alan Eskew is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.