Skipper shuffles lineup in getaway game
Gordon, Grudzielanek, DeJesus sit on eve of 11-game trek
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals were going for a sweep against the Detroit Tigers on Thursday, and they were doing it with a lineup devoid of several familiar faces.
Gone were Mark Grudzielanek, David DeJesus and Alex Gordon, and in their place were Alberto Callaspo, Ross Gload and Esteban German.
"It's a different lineup, no doubt," manager Trey Hillman said. "The biggest reason is taking care of bodies, especially as we embark on this next road trip."
For Grudzielanek, DeJesus and Gordon, that means rest. Gordon hadn't missed a game all season until Thursday. DeJesus and Grudzielanek each had early season injuries, but Grudzielanek had played in the last 14 games and DeJesus in the last 20.
"We got a couple of guys who really need it today -- and they're tough," Hillman said, "It becomes my decision to say, 'I'm glad you want to play, but you're not going to play today, because if you play today I might lose you for the next four or five days.' Or, 'There's going to be a lack of productivity in not only today's game, but that's going to domino into a lack of productivity tomorrow.'"
Kansas City's offense could hurt without Gordon, DeJesus and Grudzielanek. Entering Thursday's game, Gordon led the team in home runs, walks and RBIs, Grudzielanek was tops in average at .319, and has hit .600 against Detroit starter Kenny Rogers for his career.
Their replacements haven't been as sharp at the plate this season. German was hitting .091 before Thursday, and he, Callaspo and Gload had combined for 16 RBIs in 167 at-bats.
On paper, the lineup change might have depleted Kansas City's offense slightly, but Hillman was confident he made the right decision, knowing that his team starts an 11-game road trip on Friday against the Florida Marlins.
"It's a tough balancing act," Hillman said, "but the bottom line is what's best for the individual bodies over the course of the whole season in relation to what you're trying to do today. I believe we can beat Kenny Rogers with this lineup."
Mark Dent is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.