Hillman's first Royals' lineup brackets Guillen with Gordon and Butler

DETROIT _ It seems manager Trey Hillman has junked those early thoughts of having Alex Gordon bat seventh. Instead, Gordon will bat third on Hillman’s first big-league lineup card when the Royals open the season Monday against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.

That isn’t the only adjustment from the early days in camp.

Hillman also has Billy Butler hitting fifth, behind José Guillen, instead of following an earlier preference of left-right-left-right cadence throughout the lineup.

The batting order: CF David DeJesus, 2B Mark Grudzielanek, 3B Gordon, RF Guillen, DH Butler, LF Mark Teahen, 1B Ross Gload, C John Buck and SS Tony Peña.

The case for Butler batting fifth was simple.

“He’s squaring up more balls than anyone right now,” Hillman said. “So that’s the best coverage for (Guillen) right now; that helps (Guillen) to see (better) pitches.”

Having Gordon bat third is no surprise, either, despite the heavy attention Hillman received early in camp for pondering him as the No. 7 hitter. Gordon batted third in his last 14 spring starts.

“I’m not going to make the statement that he’s going to hit there every time he’s in the lineup,” Hillman said, “because I want to be open-minded about it.

“But I like what he’s done there. I like his use of the 4-3 hole with runners on base, and I like the adjustability in his swing.” Gordon batted .310 in 22 spring games but had only five extra-base hits and nine RBIs in 71 plate appearances. Nonetheless, Hillman is convinced Gordon will provide sufficient punch to bat third.

“As the season plays on,” Hillman said, “I think he’s going to be a guy you want up in the first inning. Because he’s a guy who can go boom right off the bat.”

Bale’s tune-up

Lefty John Bale closed a strong spring in fine form Sunday in Surprise, Ariz., by holding a collection of minor leaguers to one run and two hits in five innings. He walked one and struck out seven.

Plans call for Bale to start Friday night at Minnesota. He stayed in Arizona when the rest of the club broke camp Thursday afternoon in order to stay on his regular pitching schedule.

Bale is scheduled to rejoin the club in time for the opener.

To reach Bob Dutton, Royals reporter for The Star, call (816) 234-4352 or send email to