Spot in order offering Callaspo comfort

Spot in order offering Callaspo comfort

KANSAS CITY -- With Alberto Callaspo hitting so well this season, Royals manager Trey Hillman was asked why he wasn't moved up in the lineup, say to the second slot?

Callaspo batted seventh, his usual spot, on Wednesday night against the Mariners, and that wasn't likely to change in Thursday afternoon's series finale.

"The reason is because he's so effective at driving in runs. I think it provides better protection for Mike Jacobs [in the sixth spot]," Hillman said.

A switch-hitter, Callaspo is batting .359, even after going 0-for-5 in Wednesday's series opener, and has knocked in 11 runs. He's banged a club-high 13 doubles and even two home runs, the first two of his Major League career.

If Callaspo batted second, Hillman theorized, he might feel more restricted if expected to protect a stealing baserunner like Coco Crisp or if asked to hit behind the runner.

"I think there's more of a comfort level for Callaspo if, for instance, Coco's on first base and we're facing a right-handed pitcher," Hillman said.

"I think Alberto needs the freedom of feeling like he can swing at any pitch, and also he doesn't have to pull to utilize the [first-base/second-base] hole. His strength on any given day left-handed is left center -- sometimes it's right center but it's usually in the gaps. It's not necessarily a pull-pull-pull. If he gets into a situation where he feels like he needs to pull the ball, he starts pulling off."

That keeps a gap hitter like Callaspo from squaring up a ball and making solid contact.

"It's a comfort level for production and protection of Jacobs, so I'm leaving [Callaspo] there right now," Hillman said.

Callaspo has batted second twice this season, and -- coincidentally no doubt -- both games resulted in a loss. He's 2-for-7 as a No. 2 batter.

Pitching matchup
KC: RHP Brian Bannister (2-0, 1.96 ERA)
Bannister was not as sharp Saturday against the Twins as he was in his first two starts since his return from Triple-A Omaha. Bannister allowed six runs -- three earned -- on eight hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings while not factoring in the decision. Bannister kept his ERA under 2.00, although he will have to cut down on the baserunners he has surrendered for that success to continue. Bannister is 0-3 with a 4.79 ERA in three career starts against Seattle.

SEA: LHP Jarrod Washburn (3-1, 2.97 ERA)
The left-hander was able to put his only rocky start of the season behind him and have another quality outing against the Athletics last Saturday night. But he had to settle for another no-decision despite a job well done. After striking out none in his game against the Angels in Anaheim, Washburn fanned six over seven innings vs. Oakland and surrendered just one run. The veteran changed speeds and worked ahead in the count most of the night.

Crown points
The Royals marked the anniversary of Jackie Robinson's first game with the Kansas City Monarchs on Wednesday night. In the Buck O'Neil Legacy Seat was DeMorris Smith, son of the man credited with bringing Robinson to the Monarchs in 1945 -- Hall of Fame pitcher Hilton Smith. The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is mounting a program to increase awareness of Robinson's connection to Kansas City before he broke Major League Baseball's color line in 1947. ... Brandon Duckworth held Triple-A Memphis to one run in seven innings but took a no-decision as Omaha won, 2-1, on Brian Buchanan's bases-loaded single in the ninth. Roman Colon, 2-1, picked up the victory.

 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
• Friday: Royals (Gil Meche, 2-2, 4.14) at Angels (Matt Palmer, 2-0, 3.65), 9:05 p.m. CT
• Saturday: Royals (Zack Greinke, 6-0, 0.40) at Angels (Joe Saunders, 4-1, 3.29), 8:05 p.m. CT
• Sunday: Royals (Kyle Davies, 2-1, 5.88) at Angels (Shane Loux, 2-2, 4.30), 2:35 p.m. CT

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