CHICAGO | Esteban German will get an extended look, it appears, to prove he can put an end the Royals’ revolving door at shortstop. For now, incumbent starter Tony Peña will serve as a defensive replacement.
“I’m going to leave Hermie there for a few days and see how we do,” manager Trey Hillman pledged before Wednesday’s game against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.
“Hermie will catch, hopefully, what he gets to. We’ll stay stable with Hermie for a few days. We’ll see how it goes.”
German is regarded as a utility player — “I can play anywhere,” he boasted again Wednesday — but has played only six previous games at shortstop in his big-league career. His start last Saturday at short was his first appearance of the season at the position.
Wednesday marked the seventh straight game that a different player started at short from the previous game. Mike Aviles and Alberto Callaspo also started once in that span.
“There hasn’t been a whole lot of opportunity for Mike Aviles,” Hillman conceded. “He only had one game. I’m accountable for that, but I’m going to go with the guy who gives us the best at-bats.”
German entered the game with a .178 batting average in limited action — just 45 at-bats — but batted a combined .292 over the two previous seasons with a .383 on-base percentage.
Peña is batting .158 with a .178 OBP.
“One he gets in there, he presses,” Hillman said. “With a guy with Tony’s defensive abilities, obviously, I’ve gone longer than some managers might have.
“I still don’t think everything should be put on Tony Peña’s shoulders. If the other parts, one through eight, are working consistently as we’d like, we’re probably not having discussion as much as we’ve had in the last month.”
Hillman also took a defensive gamble by sitting speedy center fielder Joey Gathright against Chicago lefty John Danks. David DeJesus shifted back to center with José Guillen in left and Mark Teahen in right.
That enabled Miguel Olivo to serve as the DH while John Buck played catcher.
“It’s a little bit smaller outfield to run around in,” Hillman said. “I wanted to keep José’s bat involved in the mix, obviously. And Miguel’s bat involved the mix. That was the easiest way to do it.”
Gathright had started 13 straight games since returning from a sore left shoulder suffered May 17 in an outfield collision with DeJesus in Florida. Gathright had raised his average from .236 to .268 before going zero for nine in the last three games and falling back to .252.
DeJesus on a binge
DeJesus entered Wednesday’s game on a 13-for-30 binge over the last seven games that boosted his average from .270 to .299.
“David doesn’t have a lot of moving parts in his setup,” Hillman said. “His stride direction stays consistent, and he’s got a simple load. As long as he’s on time with his load, he does an equally good job on fastballs and secondary pitches.”
The White Sox signed veteran right-hander Esteban Loaiza after clearing roster space by optioning reliever Ehren Wassermann to Class AAA Charlotte. Loaiza, 36, was 1-2 with a 5.63 ERA in seven games for the Dodgers before his release in late May.