First base, 'pen decisions to go to wire

First base, 'pen decisions to go to wire

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Manager Trey Hillman still has big decisions ahead of him, but he doesn't see two of those decisions coming quickly.

With two weeks left in Spring Training, Hillman said he's still uncertain how the battle between Ryan Shealy, Ross Gload, Mark Teahen and Billy Butler at first base will play itself out.

Nor does Hillman see a quick resolution ahead of him in terms of deciding how many pitchers -- either 11 or 12 -- to break camp with.

"I haven't made that determination yet," Hillman said Sunday before his Royals took on the San Francisco Giants. "But it is possible we might only break with 11. We just haven't made that determination yet."

Hillman said he's looked at three different scenarios, depending on how the starting rotation shapes up, for the pitching staff. One of the central issues for Hillman is what pitchers will land the two open spots in the rotation.

"We'll let this fourth or fifth starter play out a little longer and we'll end up making that decision," he said.

As for first base, a decision has to be made if Butler will play there or be the designated hitter. He's still learning the position. Gload has hit well this spring, Shealy has shown his old power and both are regarded as good fielders. Teahen, the starting left fielder, could be used at first occasionally and Gload has the ability to play left field or right field.

Hillman has talked of doing some rotation between first, left and DH. Just who will be at first base on Opening Day remains to be seen.

So when will he decide who will get the job?

"It'll probably go right down to the end," Hillman said. "Even, for instance, if a Billy Butler does not log most of his at-bats playing at first base, it's something that we'll stay consistent with in having the ability to utilize when we want to anyhow."

Justice B. Hill is a senior writer for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.