ARLINGTON -- Shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt had the permission of Royals manager Trey Hillman to catch pop flies one-handed.
"If he can't get comfortable doing it two-handed over the head, it's very simple: Don't miss it," Hillman said.
And if Betancourt does muff a one-handed catch, as he did at the cost of one Rangers run in Friday night's 4-1 loss, it will cost him. So Betancourt also dropped a few bucks from his pocketbook along with Matt Treanor's easy popup.
Hillman wants players to catch pop flies with two hands above their head, as he was taught. But Betancourt, growing up in Cuba and throughout the Minor Leagues, caught popups one-handed and to his glove side. The two-handed approach, he told infield coach Dave Owen and Hillman, obscured his vision as the ball plummeted.
OK, said Hillman, adding quickly: "You just can't miss."
Hillman can adjust. He learned in his managing days in Japan that players there did things differently. For example, the catcher was always given priority on pop flies over the corner infielders -- the opposite of what is done in the United States. So he yielded on that because Japanese players were used to it.
"I try to give guys the freedom and the comfort zone as long as they get the job done," Hillman said. "If they don't get the job done, there has to be repercussions."
Third baseman Alex Gordon also had the OK to catch popups one-handed, also because of the vision issue. But now that he's with Triple-A Omaha learning to play left field, Hillman is curious if he's changed his style with the position.
"As a kid I was taught to catch it two-handed and I still believe that's the fundamental and correct way to catch it," he said. "Visually it never affected me."
Betancourt still has the OK for the one-handed catch with the same proviso: Drop it and it'll cost you.
No pop-ups came Betancourt's way in Saturday night's game.