Hillman holds meeting at home plate

Hillman holds meeting at home plate

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Royals manager Trey Hillman, despite Thursday's dramatic victory in a Cactus League game, was not entirely pleased.

Immediately after Ryan Shealy had won the game with a home run in the ninth inning, Hillman gathered his entire squad around home plate and talked to the players for several minutes.

It was an unusual scene for Spring Training, to be sure.

"Just talking about running the bases," Hillman said of the meeting. "We made a couple of mistakes today."

Hillman would not be specific. There was a botched play in the second inning when, with one out and two on, Ross Gload was retired running toward third base just after Justin Huber struck out.

"It was part of the mistakes, but I'm not going to go into it," Hillman said.

He wasn't displeased by the 4-3 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, his team's fourth in a row after starting the Cactus season with three losses in four games.

But he said: "We've got to run the bases the right way all the time. And today, we had a couple of mistakes and we could have been in a better position."

The players listened to the new skipper quietly and had no arguments afterward. Hillman spoke privately with veteran second baseman Mark Grudzielanek for several minutes after the team meeting broke up.

"It was just one of those things where we've got to get better," Grudzielanek said later. "It's those little things like that that are going to help us. We're not a team that can afford to give runs away and not score when we're supposed to. We need to do all the little things because we need all the help we can get."

Shealy felt Hillman wanted to give the team some spark.

"He said he didn't think, as a team, we were running the bases as hard as he'd like so he just wanted to address it before it became an issue, I guess," Shealy said.

"I think it was more [about] an effort thing than stupid base-running."

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Center fielder David DeJesus concurred.

"We just had a couple mistakes where we didn't run the ball out. So he wants to keep harping on us that fans want to see the effort and all you've got to do is run hard down to first base," DeJesus said.

"It's not that hard of a thing so we'll take that and we'll start doing it. It's not like we're in trouble but he wants to tell us right now, early on in camp, the way it should be. And, hey, that's the way it is."

Hillman fended off a volley of questions from reporters.

"We need to pay better attention and you all can move on because I'm not going to talk about it anymore," he said.

"That's three questions and obviously I'm not going to talk about it. If I'd have wanted you to know, I'd have invited you guys over there. It's stuff we talked about before and we need to do better job of if we want to win ballgames and be consistent winning ballgames."

A necessary meeting no doubt but a team gathering around the plate was unusual indeed.

"I thought we were going to be running the bases, doing our turns and stuff," DeJesus said. "But whatever. Now we know and we'll move from there."

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