Notes: Butler among .300 candidates

Notes: Butler among .300 candidates

KANSAS CITY -- How important is it to hit .300, Billy Butler?

"The only thing I care about is that [Friday] in the game, I had four good at-bats and I didn't get much out of it, but that's all you can do -- just go out there and put a good at-bat together," said Butler, who had one hit in the Royals' 3-2 loss to the Yankees on Friday night.

"Some days, it just doesn't work."

True enough, but the Royals rookie had a history of .300 averages in his Minor League career, and he went into Saturday night's game hitting .299.

"I think it means a lot to anybody; I don't care what they say," Butler said. He quickly added: "There's a lot more to baseball than numbers. ... As a player, you have to look past that and know that sometimes even though you make an out, it benefits the team. Like when you get a guy over, your average goes down, but you do your job. So average isn't everything."

Butler is one of four or five Royals hitters who could easily finish the season at .300.

Joey Gathright, at .317 in 58 games, might have leverage on a 2008 regular outfield job if he stays near that mark.

"To make an impression?" said Gathright, who had a .319 career mark in the Minor Leagues. "No. I've gotten over the impression stage. I'm here, I want to be here the rest of my career. I expect to hit .300 every year.

"It's just a personal thing of mine. I've always done it, I want to do it and I want to do every year. I'll be that guy to try to stay around .300. Not too many RBIs, but a lot of runs. I can be that guy. I don't mind being that guy."

Entering Saturday, Mark Teahen was at .288 and, with 472 at-bats, faced a formidable task. Assuming that he'd average three at-bats in the last 22 games, Teahen would have to go 26-for-66, a .394 pace, to reach .300.

"I guess it is the magical mark," Teahen said. "Obviously, you'd be pretty sick [to] hit .298 and just miss it. But if you have a solid season right around there, it's just as good. But, yeah, it is nice to have that label as a .300 hitter."

Mark Grudzielanek was batting .306 on Saturday, even though he often takes one of those purposeful outs to move a baserunner.

"I try to stay as consistent as possible, and that's where I should be, but it's not like it's going to be the end of the world [to not reach .300]," Grudzielanek said. "I'd like to be at that mark or higher, but I'm .290 career, so I that's kind of where I should be."

Ross Gload, at .300 even, raised his average with a .346 spurt in his last 38 games.

"Everybody talked about Gload not being a guy that could play every day ... but the more he's played, the better he's gotten, so it's nice to see somebody come along and be able to do what he's been able to do on a more everyday basis," manager Buddy Bell said.

So there are five Royals who could finish at .300 or above.

"Hitting a ball is the toughest thing in sports to do, so any time you can hit over .300, that's a heck of a year," Bell said.

"It's still a number that you strive for every year," Butler said. "There's not a guy who doesn't."

Attendance mark: The Royals, with a crowd of 27,462 at Friday night's game, surpassed their home attendance totals of 2005 and 2006.

The 2007 season total reached 1,398,140. That was 263,341 shy of the 2004 total of 1,661,481. To match that, the club would have to average 21,945 in its last 12 home dates.

Taking a break: With left-hander Andy Pettitte pitching for the Yankees, Bell had two regulars -- center fielder David DeJesus and third baseman Alex Gordon -- rest their left-handed swings on Saturday night.

"I was planning on giving Alex a day anyway, and David's been doing a lot of work in the cage, so I thought I'd give him a day off as well," Bell said. "So those are the two guys that usually play every day that are sitting. I don't like to do that too much, but considering where we are in the season and considering that Alex is in his first full year really into September and David is struggling a little bit, I thought it was a good day to do it."

Bunts: Idaho Falls warmed up for the Pioneer League playoffs by scoring six runs in the 12th inning on Friday to defeat Casper, 7-1. Mike Moustakas hit an RBI double in the big inning and finished his 11 regular-season games at .293 (12-for-41) with 10 RBIs. ... Right-hander Gil Meche celebrated his 29th birthday on Saturday. ... Gordon's double on Friday night was his 30th, making him the fourth Royals rookie with 30 or more doubles in a season. The others were Kevin Seitzer, 33 in 1987; Mark Quinn, 33 in 2000; and Ken Harvey, 30 in 2003. ... On Saturday, Mike Sweeney received his 2007 Roberto Clemente Award and is the Royals' candidate for the national award, to be presented at the third game of the World Series.

In Buck's seat: Deb Caldwell of Lenexa, Kan., was in the Buck O'Neil Legacy Seat on Saturday night. She has been a Dream Factory of Kansas City board member for 12 years and volunteers countless hours to make dreams come true for children and their parents.

Coming up: The Royals will wrap up their series with the Yankees at 1:10 p.m. CT on Sunday. In a matchup of right-handers, Zack Greinke (6-5, 3.87 ERA) will oppose the Yankees' Chien-Ming Wang (17-6, 3.68).

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.