Notes: Bannister working out the kinks

Notes: Bannister working out kinks

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Brian Bannister is taking a different approach to Spring Training this year, and he knows it's costing him on the statistics sheet.

Bannister, the Royals' No. 2 starter, gave up five runs on six hits in a 10-7 loss to the Colorado Rockies on Friday at Surprise Stadium. The loss nipped the Royals' four-game winning streak.

Bannister was drilled for a two-run homer by Brad Hawpe in the third inning.

"I was getting ahead of guys. I made all my mistakes when I was ahead," Bannister said. "Hawpe guessed right and that was my most disappointing pitch of the afternoon. Otherwise it would have been decent if not for that pitch."

Striving to make a ballclub the previous two springs, one with the New York Mets and last year with the Royals, Bannister couldn't afford to pace himself. This year, after a sluggish end to a brilliant rookie season, he's trying to ease into pitching shape in the hope of giving the Royals 200 innings.

In his first start, Bannister gave up four runs (three earned) against the Texas Rangers, and after Friday's outing, his ERA now reads 10.80.

"My legs are stronger than my arm right now," Bannister said. "I threw some real good curveballs early, and then late I hit some guys. My arm was dragging. I'm still not sharp yet. I'm not making any excuses."

He plunked two batters in the fourth, got two outs, then was lifted. Those two runners scored when reliever Ben Hendrickson gave up two bases-loaded walks.

"I didn't pitch great today," Bannister said. "I made some really good pitches, but right now I'm about a six or seven out of 10, [and] I need to be a nine out of 10 [if] I want [the pitches] to go [where I want] and keep the ball down better."

Hardhat time: With base coaches required to wear batting helmets for the first time this season, the Royals' Rusty Kuntz is making the adjustment.

"The only complaint that I have is I keep forgetting it about every other inning to wear it out to the basepaths," said Kuntz, the first-base coach. "But I have learned now to leave the hat in the locker room and just wear the helmet around.

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"After three games it's just like my hat except how stupid I look in it. That's beside the point, because I look stupid in a hat so it doesn't matter. My wife and my son want me to wear it. They want me to stick around for a while, so I just keep that in mind doing it."

The rule was put in place in response to the death last season of Double-A Tulsa coach Mike Coolbaugh after he was struck by a line drive.

Kuntz, a base coach since 1989, said he's never come real close to being struck in the head.

"No, but Brian Giles hooked a couple down there when I was with Pittsburgh, and Matt Stairs hooked a couple, too, but they were down by your feet," he said.

"Looking at most first-base coaches, they hover around the bag," Kuntz added. "I'm about 10 or 15 feet down the line further from home plate, and every year as I get older -- now mid-50s -- it seems like I'm gravitating further down the line toward right field. But, knock on wood, I haven't had anything from the shoulders up to bail out of there. I've been lucky so far."

Hall selections: Former Royals Dick Howser and Floyd Bannister are in the third induction class for the College Baseball Hall of Fame from July 2-4 in Lubbock, Texas.

Howser (Florida State) managed the 1985 Royals to the World Series championship and his number 10 has been retired by the club. Bannister (Arizona State) pitched for the Royals in 1988-89. He's the father of Brian Bannister.

Extra bases: Shortstop Angel Berroa laced a two-run triple in the Royals' 3-2 win over the Rangers in a six-inning "B" game on Friday morning. Right fielder Shane Costa had two hits. ... Mark Teahen's home run off ex-Royals left-hander Chris George in the loss to the Rockies was the club's eighth this spring. Teahen's three RBIs gave him a team-high six. ... Mark Grudzielanek made his debut at second base and got two at-bats; he grounded out and was hit by a pitch.

Up next: Left-handers John Bale and Jorge De La Rosa, contending for a rotation spot, will be the first two Royals pitchers against the Milwaukee Brewers at 2:05 p.m. CT on Saturday at Maryvale Ballpark. Ryan Braun and Chi-hui Tsao also are scheduled to pitch. The Brewers plan to throw two ex-Royals, starter Jeff Suppan and reliever David Riske, along with Guillermo Mota and Randy Choate.

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