Barnett not worried about offense
Royals' situational hitting has been up to par through struggles
MESA, Ariz. -- Manager Trey Hillman didn't like the offensive approach his Royals displayed on Monday in their 6-4 loss to the Athletics.
Hillman didn't see too many hitters get good wood on the ball, and he voiced his frustration about it afterward. Yet should his frustration be seen as a concern for the Royals?
No, said hitting coach Mike Barnett.
He couldn't argue that the Royals didn't do much at the plate against the A's, but Barnett credited the effectiveness of Dana Eveland, a rookie whom the Royals had no scouting report on, for the team's offensive struggles.
"Eveland, the left-hander, threw the ball good," Barnett said on Tuesday before the Royals took on the Cubs. "I mean, he had real good movement, and he had a sharp breaking ball. It's the first time we'd ever seen him."
In that situation, a pitcher can have a big edge, and Eveland, trying to nail down the fifth slot in the A's rotation, seemed to have a big edge in his five innings. He allowed three hits and no runs with four strikeouts.
But Barnett didn't see the performance of his hitters as anything chronic. He said he's seen enough this Spring Training to know the hitting, particularly when Jose Guillen and Mark Grudzielanek return to good health, will improve.
"I've been real happy with what we've done so far," Barnett said. "A big focus this spring was situational hitting. We wanted to do well, as far as that goes, to prepare for Opening Day and the season.
"Obviously, all of those areas have been a big plus."
As a team, the Royals are hitting .291, and their 124 runs are third most among American League teams behind the A's (135) and the Rangers (126).
The Royals, Barnett said, has been efficient at moving runners and knocking in runners from third with less than two outs.
"We're doing those types of things that we need to do," he said. "Sometimes in Spring Training, especially when you don't have all your regular guys in the lineup, you look a little bit dead and flat.
"But I really credit Eveland yesterday more than anything."
Justice B. Hill is a senior writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.