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Hillman easing vets into Cactus League

Hillman easing vets into Cactus League

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- If you're expecting to see Jose Guillen in the Royals' lineup on Wednesday or anytime soon, think again.

Guillen, the Royals' new right fielder, won't play in Wednesday's Cactus League opener at 2:05 p.m. CT against the Texas Rangers at Surprise Stadium.

In fact, Guillen and second basemen Mark Grudzielanek are not likely to play in a game until March 8 or 9, manager Trey Hillman said Tuesday.

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"Because they're veteran guys, their bodies know how to get ready and I want them fresher at the start of the season," Hillman said.

The Royals will start left-hander John Bale in the Cactus opener. He's scheduled to pitch two innings, followed by Luke Hochevar, Brian Lawrence, Ron Mahay, Yasuhiko Yabuta and Carlos Rosa.

Rangers left-hander A.J. Murray will be facing this batting order: David DeJesus, center field; Esteban German, second base; Mark Teahen, left field; Ryan Shealy, designated hitter; Alex Gordon, third base; Billy Butler, first base; Shane Costa, right field; John Buck, catcher; Tony Pena Jr., shortstop.

Hillman will have substitutions aplenty, as is customary in spring games.

"We need to find out some things. Obviously, I'd love to win these ballgames simply to get that winning feeling going into the season but, ultimately, the primary objection is answering questions and getting guys conditioned and ready to play the season," Hillman said.

According to Hillman, Guillen has been working hard.

"He had a 45-minute, almost an hour session in the cage yesterday with Barney [hitting coach Mike Barnett]. He's been involved in all the defensive drills, he's been doing everything he needs to do," Hillman said.

"His attitude has been very good. He's been very free with his thoughts, which I knew he would be and which I welcome. He's been very respectful. He seems to be kidding around with his teammates. He's here early, one of the first position players here every morning."

Hillman met with Guillen and Grudzielanek to clarify their Spring Training game status.

"They don't believe they need to be in these games early on," Hillman said. "I'm more concerned with the condition of their bodies before they get in the game. Grudzielanek's a no-brainer. He had two knee surgeries last year and was still the MVP position player of the club."

In an overnight change, officials announced the Royals will be the visiting team instead of the home team.

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

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