Notes: Bell reflects on first 10 days

Notes: Bell reflects on first 10 days

SAN FRANCISCO -- Nearing his 10th day as manager of the Kansas City Royals, Buddy Bell half-jokingly said, "I haven't done anything yet."

That's not entirely true. He's seen his team sweep the New York Yankees at Kauffman Stadium, and on Thursday had the Royals on the verge of their first road series sweep in nearly two years.

Kansas City sported a 6-2 record under Bell's watch going into the series finale against the Giants, and Bell's first explanation for that performance by a team that was 13-37 when he was hired May 31 is that he's been little more than an observer.

"This is kinda it," Bell said while sitting behind a clutter-free desk in the visiting manager's office at SBC Park. "I think the coaches do a great job of filling me in."

There is some truth to Bell's self-deprecating claims. He's been more interested in getting to know these Royals better than he could as an opposing bench coach with the Cleveland Indians -- his job for two-plus seasons before Kansas City called -- than in engineering a complete overhaul.

"I'm feeling pretty comfortable with that, but I'm still not there yet," he said. "Baseball is baseball. Catch the ball, throw the ball, hit the ball and just play hard. If you do that on a consistent basis, it's easy to evaluate when you see guys playing at their best."

"He wanted to feel his way around a little bit, and we got off to such a hot start from the first day, that series sweeping the Yankees," said second baseman Tony Graffanino. "It was probably easy for him to sit back and watch things happen.

"When the team is playing good baseball, it's probably a good idea for the manager to just sit back and watch until he needs to do some things."

But Bell is not going to sit on his hands the rest of the season.

"There are still a lot of things we need to do," he said. "We'd like to have a set lineup and we can't do that just yet. You'd like with the bullpen to get those guys in some sort of roles, and we're getting closer to that because the starters are giving us some innings."

D.J. Carrasco pitched a complete game Tuesday against the Giants, and Runelvys Hernandez followed with six-plus innings of one-run ball before Mike Wood, Jeremy Affeldt and closer Mike MacDougal sealed the deal.

Bell suggested that Wednesday parade out of the bullpen may be the template for the rest of the year.

"Woody can do anything; he can start, pitch in the middle, the end and setup," he said. "[Leo] Nunez can do anything Woody can except start, and [Ambiorix] Burgos probably fits somewhere in between Wood and MacDougal.

"With Affeldt, it's difficult to know where he is [after coming off 44 days on the disabled list with a groin strain]. Ideally, you'd like to put him in a role like [Wednesday] night because Mac's pitching so good."

Still no Sweeney: First baseman Mike Sweeney was out of the starting lineup for the second straight game, still bothered slightly by a strained muscle on his right side.

He's expected to rejoin the action Friday when the Royals continue their road trip with three games against the Diamondbacks.

"We want to give it another day and wait till we get to Arizona where the weather is warm," Bell said.

Do the math: Graffanino's batting average has soared from .206 (13-for-63) on April 30 to .294 (37-for-126).

   Tony Graffanino  /   2B
Born: 06/06/72
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 190 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R

Graffanino, a career .259 hitter who turned 33 on Monday, said the big jump had less to do with any swing adjustments than with simple math.

"Early on, I didn't have lot of at-bats, so when you're not getting hits, your average goes down a lot," he said. "When you start playing and you start getting hits, it goes up a lot."

The key part is getting the hits, and Graffanino has been collecting plenty of late. He went 4-for-8 with a triple and a homer in his first two games in San Francisco and over the past 18 games has hit .381 (24-for-63).

For Graffanino, the timing of his hot streak couldn't be better, and again it comes down to simple arithmetic.

"You try to get hits as early as you can to get your average up," he said. "When you get a lot of hits and your average is still low [because of so many at-bats], it's a battle to get it up there.

"I started getting my hits before I had a lot of at-bats and that helped my average go up pretty quick."

Looking ahead: Zack Greinke (1-7, 4.91 ERA) gets the start in the Royals' first game ever in Arizona, and will be looking for his second win after picking up his first just two starts ago.

He's due for some help from his teammates against the Diamondbacks' Russ Ortiz (4-5, 5.62 ERA), because so far Greinke has received the lowest run support in the Majors (2.05 runs per nine innings).

Tony Kuttner is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.