The Royals had a full outfield. In fact, it was so crowded that veteran outfielder Jose Guillen was shifted to the role of designated hitter. With the acquisition of outfielders Rick Ankiel and Scott Podsednik, playing time for Maier would be hard to find.
An injury to Ankiel gave Maier his first shot in the field and he has been making the most of his opportunity ever since. Maier is batting .262 with 18 RBIs to go along with three doubles and three triples. Even more impressive is Maier's defense, as he hasn't committed an error in 35 games. He entered Wednesday's game without an error in 172 straight games in the outfield.
Over his last six games, Maier is batting .304 (7-for-23) with five RBIs.
"I'm just going to play," he said. "You go through stretches where you're doing well and sometimes you're scuffling. Right now, I feel good at the plate ... I'm just trying to stay relaxed and keep getting hits."
An injury to Ankiel may have given him his chance this season, but Maier says that's just how baseball works.
"That's what it's all about," Maier said. "When you get an opportunity, you have to go out there and take advantage of it. I've been confident in my ability to play, it's just a matter of getting an opportunity to play consistently and prove that you can actually do it."