Notes: Robinson trying to beat odds

Notes: Can Robinson's speed make difference?

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Kerry Robinson faces an uphill battle to earn a job as a reserve outfielder with the Royals.

Robinson, a non-roster invitee, helped his chances Friday with an infield single that drove in the tying run in the fifth and a run-producing triple in the seventh to put the Royals ahead for good in a 7-6 triumph over the Rangers.

Robinson knows a .175 batting average in March could get him released or sent back to the Minors. He also realizes a .330 batting average may not be enough for the Royals to put him on their Major League roster for the April 3 opener.

"Even if you do good, it doesn't mean you are going to make the team either," Robinson said. "I pretty much proved that last year with the Mets. I had a really good spring and the last day they decided to release me.

"I hit in the three teens with two home runs, eight RBIs. Even the papers in New York had me making the team. It was really bad for me last year. That was the first year I came to Spring Training as a non-roster guy. I had never done that before."

The Royals have an opening for a reserve outfielder. Robinson, however, must beat out Chip Ambres, who had a double, and Aaron Guiel, who opted to play for Canada in the World Baseball Classic, to win that job.

"He's got a chance," manager Buddy Bell said of Robinson. "He gives us a little bit of dimension that we don't have -- speed. He's going to get some playing time. It's not going to be an easy decision, that's for sure."

Robinson, 32, has played in the Majors with the Devil Rays, Reds, Cardinals and Padres. He has a .267 average and 35 career steals. He hit .328 with 13 steals in 19 attempts in 58 games last season with Richmond, the Braves' Triple-A affiliate.

"Last year I thought about stats and stuff and I needed to do this and that in Spring Training, but this year it is just about playing it one pitch at a time and not worrying about other things because I can't control that," Robinson said. "Right now, we're all trying to get back in a groove of playing baseball. Things are working pretty good the first two games."

A changeup for MacDougal: Mike MacDougal can dial up a high 90s mph fastball and has a solid slider, but he is working on adding a changeup.

He threw one changeup to Erubiel Durazo in a scoreless eighth Friday. MacDougal worked around an Angel Sanchez throwing error and did not allow a hit.

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"It has been a good pitch for me in the 'pen," MacDougal said. "I'll see how it is in the games, if it can be an effective pitch for me. I threw it outside, so I really didn't give them a chance to see what I wanted to see or how they reacted.

"I want to get that pitch. I don't want people to sit on my fastball and hard slider, so I'll throw a mixup in there."

Bell's impressions: Bell said he "liked a lot of things" in the Royals' come-from-behind victory. They were down 3-0 after three innings.

He said he thought starter Denny Bautista "went to his breaking ball a little too much." Bautista quickly retired the first two batters, but then yielded a single and a home run to Phil Nevin.

"He's still working on his command, as are all the pitchers," Bell said.

J.P. Howell replaced Bautista in the second and gave up a leadoff home run to Ian Kinsler. Howell also walked one and allowed a single in two innings.

"Not bad," Bell labeled Howell's performance. "In this ballpark, if you don't get the ball right where you want it, you're going to get killed."

Bell also liked the defense.

"The fact we made only one error is not bad for a Spring Training game," Bell said.

Allen close: Outfielder Chad Allen, who suffered a foot bruise after fouling a ball off of it in an intrasquad game, said he is hoping to play Sunday when the Royals go to Tucson to face the Rockies.

On deck: Right-hander Runelvys Hernandez, who led the Royals with eight victories last season, is scheduled to start Saturday at 1:05 p.m. MT, while the Rangers will counter with Adam Eaton. Joe Mays is scheduled to pitch two innings after Hernandez.

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