BOSTON | José Guillen’s hot bat earned him recognition Monday as the American League Player of the Week. He went 11 for 24 last week for the Royals with five doubles, two homers and 13 RBIs in six games.
“I’m just showing up for work,” he said. “I’m not going to make any excuses, but being in the hot weather really helped a lot.”
Guillen’s surge pulled him out of an extended slump and raised his average to a season-high .245. It also raised his season totals to 16 doubles, five homers and 30 RBIs in 41 games.
The Royals won four of six games during the week.
Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano was picked as the National League Player of the Week.
Guillen posted his big week despite battling a sore right hip and groin. He shifted back to designated hitter Monday at Boston after playing in left field for the three previous games at Florida.
“Being back in cooler weather,” manager Trey Hillman said, “I want to back off on the hip flexor a little bit. This gives us a chance to DH him because we’re back in an American League ballpark.”
The Player of the Week award was the second of Guillen’s 12-year career. He previously won for the week ending May 9, 2004 while a member of the Anaheim Angels.
“I’m not the type of guy to put pressure on myself,” he said. “I try to be the same guy whether I go zero for five or get three hits. This game will drive people crazy. I never forget what one of my friends told me a long time ago: Just stay the same every day.”
Pitcher Brian Bannister was picked as the AL’s Player of the Week earlier this year for the week ending April 13. He shared the award with Seattle outfielder Raul Ibañez.
Guillen is the first Royal to win the award outright since Mark Teahen for the week ending July 30, 2006. Guillen will receive an engraved Swiss Tourneau timepiece in recognition for winning the award.
Back on board
Catcher John Buck rejoined the club and was activated from the bereavement list just prior to the game. Buck missed the three-game weekend series in Florida in order to remain with his wife, Brooke, during the early-term delivery of the couple’s twin sons.
“Everyone is doing fine,” Buck said, “and it’s good to be back. But this is a long trip. I already want to see them again, and it’s going to be eight days.”
The Royals cleared space for Buck by optioning Matt Tupman to Class AAA Omaha. Tupman had a pinch single Sunday against the Marlins in his big-league debut.
Despite Buck’s return, backup catcher Miguel Olivo made his fifth straight start.
“(Buck) has been sitting idle for three days,” Hillman said. “I don’t want to do something that I think would be counterproductive.”
Facing the monster
Utilityman Esteban German didn’t flinch at the prospect of playing left field at Fenway Park — in the shadow of the famed Green Monster — for the first time in his career.
“You watch,” he boasted with a big smile, “I’m going to jump over it and rob a home run.”
He was kidding, of course. The big green wall is 37 feet high and has bedeviled regular outfielders for decades. Even so, Hillman said he had no hesitation about putting German in left field.
“Nope, no reservations,” Hillman said. “Less ground to cover. He came out and worked out early. He reads balls off the bat well. I don’t look at it as rolling the dice at all.
“I look at it as getting another right-handed bat in against (Jon) Lester.”
Right-hander Sam Runion took a tough loss Sunday in his 2008 season debut at Class A Burlington. He allowed one earned run and four hits in six innings in a 3-1 loss to Quad Cities.
Runion, 19, was the Royals’ second-round pick in 2007. He went 3-4 with a 5.82 ERA in 12 games at Rookie Surprise but was still picked as the No. 18 prospect in the Arizona Rookie League by Baseball America.