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Slumping Pena given rest by Royals

Slumping Pena given rest by Royals

KANSAS CITY -- Will Tony Pena be back in the Royals' lineup on Saturday night?

Good question, because Pena -- off to a 1-for-27 (.037) start -- was replaced at shortstop by Alberto Callaspo on Friday night against the Twins.

"I'm far from giving up on Tony Pena, but it's always good to get other guys in the mix," manager Trey Hillman said.

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He believes that giving a slumping player a day off is sometimes beneficial. This was the second time in 10 games that Callaspo has replaced Pena.

"[Pena's] been pressing a little bit and his pitch selection has not been great," Hillman said. "His last couple games have been better, but he got himself in an early hole because his pitch selection in Detroit and then in Minnesota was not very good."

Pena's only hit was a game-deciding single in the 11th inning on Opening Day at Detroit. A free swinger, he's walked just once and struck out eight times.

"Tony is probably the best I've ever been around about letting it go," Hillman said. "You would not know that on any given day that Tony had poor pitch selection and that he took an oh-fer."

Callaspo's primary position is second base and he has below-average running speed, but despite that, Hillman says he's got slightly-above average range at shortstop to go with a plus arm.

"I don't know if he's an everyday guy or not. It's too early to say," Hillman said. "One thing you know is you've got tremendous range with Tony. It's there, you know he's going to do it every day. He's going to get to so many balls that so many shortstops don't get to. Obviously that helps your pitching staff."

Another alternative at shortstop, of course, is Angel Berroa. The 2003 American League Rookie of the Year is playing for Triple-A Omaha and, through seven games, was batting .423 (11-for-26).

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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