Notes: Berroa demoted after Pena trade
Former AL Rookie of the Year shortstop sent to Triple-A
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Angel Berroa, who has suffered a steep decline in his playing skills since winning the 2003 American League Rookie of the Year trophy, was optioned Saturday to Triple-A Omaha.Manager Buddy Bell said Tony Pena Jr., who was acquired in a trade Friday with the Braves, would be the starting shortstop, a position Berroa had manned the past four seasons. Berroa has not come close to duplicating his 2003 numbers of a .287 batting average with 92 runs, 28 doubles, 17 home runs, 73 RBIs and 21 stolen bases. In 132 games in 2006, Berroa hit .234 with a .333 slugging percentage and a .259 on-base percentage. He had only 28 extra-base hits and walked just 14 times. Although Berroa remained in Kansas City during the offseason to work on his agility and hit in the Kauffman Stadium cages, he showed no improvement in Spring Training. He struck out 14 times in 38 at-bats and had no walks. There were also concerns the 29-year-old Berroa had lost some of his range defensively. Berroa was told of the move in Surprise on Saturday morning and didn't make the trip to Peoria with the rest of the team. "It's a private matter, but it's not something he was happy about, obviously," Bell said of Berroa's reaction of being sent back to the Minors. "The players have the toughest job of all. No matter how tough it is on us as the decision makers; it is always tougher on the player.
"Angel is going to be a good player again. He is going to figure it out. He's a good kid. He works hard. He has all the ingredients to get better. He knows what he needs to do."
Is there a chance Berroa would return to Kansas City this season?"I just hope he does great," Bell said. "If he's doing great, we're going to see him with us or with somebody else. If he is doing well, I'd have no problem at all putting him in the lineup again." The Royals still owe Berroa $8.5 million of an $11 million multi-year contract he signed on May 7, 2004. Berroa is guaranteed $3.25 million for this year and $4.75 million in 2008. There is also a $500,000 buyout in 2009.
Good start: Odalis Perez gave up six hits and three walks in five innings, but only one run in the Royals' 5-4 loss to the Mariners on Saturday. Perez said the finger blister that caused him to leave his previous start after three innings against the Giants was fine. "I didn't have my best stuff," Perez said. "I don't feel strong like I want to be, but I threw pitches when I had to, only one run [was] given up. The changeup and the cutter helped me. The changeup was good. I threw it when I needed, and it came out good." He said he lacked command of his fastball and his breaking ball. Octavio Dotel gave up his first runs on Spring Training and blew a save when he allowed three runs, one unearned, on three hits and a walk in the eighth. It was the first time Dotel has worked in back-to-back games in Spring Training after pitching in a Minor League game Friday. "Things are going to happen," Dotel said. "Things are not always going to go your way. Things didn't go the way I wanted them to go, but I feel unbelievable physically and that's the main thing. I'm ready for [Opening Day]." Grudzielanek close: Mark Grudzielanek, who had arthroscopic knee surgery March 5, could be back on the field sooner than first anticipated. "There's a 50-50 chance he may play Monday, but he has got to be able to do everything before that without pain, soreness, swelling or anything," Bell said. "If he can do that, there's a chance that he may play Monday night." DeJesus timetable: David DeJesus, who has not played since March 14 because of an intestinal virus, could return this week. Bell said after the game Saturday he and the coaching staff would do some individual work with DeJesus, including throwing him batting practice. "I want to put my eyes on him before he gets back in the lineup, which hopefully will be Tuesday or Wednesday," Bell said. "If he gets back Tuesday or Wednesday, he'll get a lot of at-bats. His strength is almost all the way back. That's our biggest concern. It's not like he has missed the whole camp." In other medical updates, first baseman Justin Huber, who has been out with a strained hamstring, should be ready to play Sunday. Outfielder Shane Costa, who has been out with tightness in his back, will need a couple of more days before returning. Leo Nunez, who has a broken right wrist, will be able to start throwing in three to four weeks. Butler's out: Outfielder Billy Butler, the Royals' top pick in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, was assigned to Minor League camp Saturday, but he certainly left a lasting imprint with his bat. Butler, who has a .344 average in three Minor League seasons, hit .419 with five doubles, two home runs and 10 RBIs in 31 at-bats. "There's just not any room for Billy right now," Bell said. "There's nothing about Billy that I don't like. He's a good kid. He gives you an honest day's work every single day. He got better defensively, which he needs to do. He needs to continue to work on that. Offensively, he's a legitimate big-league hitter. He's still got a ways to go, but there are a lot of guys in the big leagues that don't hit like him already." Bell said he wants Butler, 20, playing the outfield every day with Omaha. "I'm not a big believer in a young player just coming up to DH," Bell said. "I don't think it teaches them the game the way it needs to be taught. A need will dictate what Billy does." On deck: Zack Greinke will start on Sunday against the Brewers in a 3:05 p.m. CT start at Surprise Stadium. Former Royals pitcher Jeff Suppan will start for Milwaukee.
Alan Eskew is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.