Notes: Bunting drills need work

Notes: Bunting drills need work

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- When the Royals finished a couple of simulated games limited to bunting, manager Trey Hillman pronounced himself displeased.

As rain fell on a cold, dismal Friday at Spring Training, the Royals got in their first work under game conditions with Hillman an intense observer behind the mound.

He found flaws in both the batters' bunts and the way the pitchers and infielders handled them.

"No. 1, the bunting game itself. Our technique is not very good. We're working on that on the side, but it just goes to show you how different it is in a game setting," Hillman said.

He did see improvement in Tony Pena, who had problems bunting at times last season.

"Tony Pena got a lot better today as soon as I whispered in his ear, 'Just keep your hands nice and quiet,' " Hillman said.

"When you're in an adrenaline situation, you forget your feet don't have to move, you don't have to hurry out of the box and you don't have to move your hands once you get 'em set. They forget that. They do it perfect over in the drill but you get them in a game situation and they screw it up."

Also, he saw his fielders had difficulty in picking up the direction of bunts and missed some outs they should have gotten.

"As did Detroit in the PFP [pitchers' fielding practice] part in the '06 World Series. We made some of those mistakes today and I know the conditions were difficult but it could be 20, 30 degrees colder in Detroit maybe on Opening Day."

He did see pluses, however, such as the aggressiveness of third baseman Alex Gordon and plays made by fledgling first baseman Billy Butler.

"[Butler] got a lot of work and looked very good. It looked like he'd been there for a while. It doesn't look like the game has sped on him a whole lot yet so that's a good thing for him and a good thing for us," Hillman said.

The Royals will return to this project on Monday when the bunting will be mixed in with stolen bases and hit-and-run plays in simulated game situations. Such exercises will be continued throughout camp, Hillman said, presumably until they get it right.

Callaspo in camp: The last missing player, infielder Alberto Callaspo, arrived at camp on Friday morning. He got to Surprise late Thursday night and looked sleepy.

"I'm tired a little bit but I'm ready to go," he said.

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Callaspo, delayed in Venezuela by a visa snag, flew from Caracas to Atlanta to Phoenix on Thursday.

"I told him he does look a little sleepy and I'm sure he is," Hillman said. "There's got to be a little bit of stress although I'm sure he got word through his agent that we're not mad. But it's a new organization for him, a new setting for him, he just finished playing in the Caribbean Series and now he's got all these visa issues. Because of that, he knows he's a topic of conversation and I'm sure all that adds up with the travel and everything. I think that'd make anybody sleepy."

Late start: The clubhouse doors usually open at, or before, the crack of dawn. On Saturday, however, breakfast will be served a little later.

Players will be shuttled off for physical examinations and the workout won't start until noon MT. Ordinarily the players are on the field by 9:30 a.m.

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