Bloomquist is red-hot Royal

Bloomquist is red-hot Royal

MINNEAPOLIS -- Willie Bloomquist made his first start at shortstop for the Royals on Sunday against the Twins.

"Kind of trying to ride the hot hand," manager Trey Hillman said prior to the game. "Really don't have any reservations about anywhere we put Willie. Build on that great on-base percentage and keep him up there at the top of the lineup -- hopefully help us generate some runs.

"I look forward to providing an opportunity for him because he always does something positive. It's nice that the versatility is there all over the field for Willie."

How right Hillman was. Bloomquist mustered the first offense of the day for the Royals in the 7-5 win, breaking up Twins starter Scott Baker's no-hitter to lead off the seventh inning. It was a breakthrough that led to five seventh-inning runs. Bloomquist added a triple in the eighth inning.

Bloomquist now has a .454 batting average (15-for-33) and a .523 on-base percentage (23-for-44) since April 15. That stretch includes a double, two triples, eight runs scored, four RBIs and a stolen base.

Bloomquist has been receiving semi-regular playing time during that stretch -- playing in 11 games, 10 of which were starts -- due primarily to a rash of Royals injuries. Bloomquist believes the increased productivity is a natural byproduct of increased playing time.

"Hitting is tough enough when you're playing every day, but when you're playing once a week, and you're facing a setup guy or a closer or an ace or something like that, it's tough," Bloomquist said. "Obviously, the more you get in there, the more pitches you see, the more timing you get and the better you are going to be."

Bloomquist had previously made 83 starts at shortstop in his Major League career. Hillman said that the scouting reports he read when the Royals signed Bloomquist said that he could "play short and play it very effectively."

"I really don't have much reservation about it because he is a ballplayer and he receives a ground ball pretty fundamentally sound," Hillman said. "He moves right to left; the thing that you always wonder about is the throws. Willie has a little bit lower an arm slot when he plays the infield. He has kind of a second-base throw. But he gets rid of the ball in good time and he's got good arm strength."

Bloomquist did commit a throwing error in the first inning of Sunday's victory while hurrying to unload a throw to beat Justin Morneau after fielding a slow bouncer.

Bloomquist has started at every defensive position outside of catcher in his career.

"You learn to be comfortable with the uncomfortable," Bloomquist said. "You are always on edge because you are thinking about what plays could happen at each different position, and that's a lot of different plays if you are talking about six or seven different spots. There are a lot of different situations that can come up at each position that you have to be ready for. I wouldn't ever say I'm completely comfortable at one spot. But there's definitely some positions I'm more comfortable at than other ones."

Hillman was asked if Bloomquist could challenge the struggling Mike Aviles for the starting shortstop job.

"I wouldn't go that far," Hillman said. "I think Willie's best asset is what we are doing with him. I think if we keyhole him in one position, it kind of puts constraints on what we have with flexibility. I think that I have to try to continue to look at the big picture."

Bloomquist was 2-for-5 with two runs scored on Sunday.

"He's like the energizer bunny," Hillman said. "He brings energy to our lineup, he's a threat on the base paths, he does a lot of good things."

Coming off a series victory at Minnesota, Kansas City opens a two-game set Monday at Kauffman Stadium against the Chicago White Sox. Whether or not Bloomquist is in the lineup -- or where, or playing which position -- he promises to be prepared.

"That's my job," Bloomquist said. "I have to be ready to go with whatever role is asked of me that day."

Pitching matchup
KC: RHP Zack Greinke (5-0, 0.50 ERA)
Greinke's string of 43 straight innings without allowing an earned run ended last Wednesday night, but the Blue Jays managed just two runs off him as he became the Majors' first five-game winner this season. Greinke went seven innings after going the distance in his previous two starts and he threw 111 pitches. His eight strikeouts gave him an average of 11 per nine innings -- he has 44 in 36 innings so far. Hardly anything has gone wrong for Greinke this season. He even beat the White Sox, a team that's been tough on him in his career. He's 4-8 against them after his 2-0 win in his first start.

CWS: RHP Bartolo Colon (2-1, 4.15 ERA)
Colon looked as strong as he has in any of his four starts for the White Sox this season during a 2-1 victory over the Mariners in Game 1 of Tuesday's doubleheader. Colon struck out six and walked one, giving up four hits and one unearned run over seven innings. He also pitched out of a second-and-third, one-out jam in the seventh, nursing a one-run lead, while working up his pitch count to 95. Colon has not faced the Royals this season but has a 15-7 career mark with a 4.84 ERA in 25 starts. Colon holds a 6-4 record during his starts at Kauffman Stadium.

Although the Royals committed three errors on Sunday, they were the beneficiaries of a circus catch. Coco Crisp stole an extra-base hit from Brendan Harris in the third inning when he made a leaping catch against the center-field wall. ... Kansas City is now 8-7 against American League Central opponents this season. ... Alberto Callaspo has hit safely in all but three of the 23 games that he has played in this season.

 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• KCSP 610

Up next
• Tuesday: Royals (Kyle Davies, 2-1, 4.85) vs. White Sox (Gavin Floyd, 2-2, 5.52), 7:10 p.m. CT
• Wednesday: Royals (Sidney Ponson, 0-4, 7.16) vs. Mariners (Carlos Silva, 1-2, 7.36), 7:10 p.m. CT
• Thursday: Royals (Brian Bannister, 2-0, 1.96) vs. Mariners (Jarrod Washburn, 3-1, 2.97), 1:10 p.m. CT

Thor Nystrom is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.