BOSTON | Mark Teahen was back in right field for Thursday’s series finale against the Red Sox after shifting for the first time this season Wednesday to first base.
Don’t be surprised, though, if he returns to first in the near future — perhaps for an extended run.
“I like the possibilities of that lineup for run production,” manager Trey Hillman said, “and I like the defense. It gives us a little more speed.”
Putting Teahen, a former third baseman, at first enables the Royals to use an outfield with Joey Gathright in center flanked by José Guillen and David DeJesus. Billy Butler would likely become the regular DH, while Ross Gload would be relegated to backup duty.
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“Joey is a truer center fielder for the ballpark we play most of our games in,” Hillman said. “That doesn’t mean that I’ve given up on David (as a center fielder). But having Joey out there with David, as good as Mark Teahen is, gives us better coverage.”
Teahen seems amenable to yet another position change — if it comes to that.
“It’ll be a shorter run (from the dugout),” he said. “I’m kind of impartial to where I’m playing. If I’m back in the infield — I like playing the infield. And I’ll be back in the action.”
TUMBLING FROM THE TOP
The four-game series at Fenway trimmed 30 points from Mark Grudzielanek’s average, which stood at an American League-leading .331 when the Royals arrived Monday from Florida.
“I feel good,” he said, “but I’m scuffling. It’s like I’m behind the eight-ball and just can’t get anything going.” Grudzielanek went zero for three in the series finale and was zero for 13 with a sacrifice and two walks in the four games.
Slumping Billy Butler got the day off until called on in the ninth inning, when he delivered a pinch single against Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon.
“He’s beating himself up mentally,” Hillman said. “He’s trying to do too much. For a guy who can hit as well as Billy can, when he’s not having productivity, it’s frustrating.”
Butler’s single snapped a zero-for-11 skid that had dropped his average to a season-low .262. He is batting just .212 in 27 games since April 23.
NORTH TO TORONTO
The Royals make their only visit to Canada when they open a four-game wraparound series Friday against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
The marquee matchup is Friday when Zack Greinke, 5-1 with a 2.18 ERA, faces former Cy Young winner Roy Halladay, 4-5 and 3.38, at 6:07 p.m. Central time.
Greinke allowed one run and five hits in seven innings April 25 against the Blue Jays at Kauffman Stadium but settled for a no-decision. The Royals won the game 8-4.
Halladay didn’t face the Royals in the earlier series but is 7-3 with a 3.11 ERA against them in 12 career starts.
The rest of the matchups: Saturday: RHP Luke Hochevar, 3-3 and 4.29, vs. Toronto RHP Jesse Litsch, 5-1 and 4.22, at 12:07 p.m. Central time.
Sunday: RHP Gil Meche, 3-6 and 5.58, vs. Toronto RHP Dustin McGowan, 2-4 and 4-21, at 12:07 p.m. Central time.
Monday: RHP Brett Tomko, 2-5 and 5.76, vs. Toronto RHP Shaun Marcum, 4-3 and 2.80, at 11:37 a.m. Central time.
Catcher Matt Tupman, reliever Neal Musser and manager Mike Jirschele were ejected Wednesday night in Class AAA Omaha’s 4-3 victory over Iowa in 12 innings.
Tupman and Jirschele were ejected in the ninth inning by home-plate umpire Dan Bellino for arguing after Tupman was called for obstruction when a pitch in the dirt got caught in his equipment. Musser was ejected in the 10th by Bellino for arguing a balk call.
Omaha forced extra innings on Jason Smith’s two-run homer in the ninth inning. They won the game when ex-Royals shortstop Andres Blanco made a throwing error in the 12th inning.
Smith’s homer was his 11th of the season.
Right-hander Daniel Cortes lowered his ERA to 1.96 when he allowed just one run and three hits in five innings in Class AA Northwest Arkansas’ 13-5 victory over Midland. It was his second start since returning from a four-week absence because of strained left quadriceps muscle.
Miguel Olivo matched a career high with five RBIs. He also had five on June 27, 2006 while playing for Florida against Tampa Bay. Olivo had two doubles and one homer in five at-bats and raised his average to .284. Seventeen of his 26 hits have been for extra bases.
José Guillen went four for five and boosted his average to a season-high .251. It was the eighth time in his career that he has had at least four hits in a game.
Joey Gathright got his 12th steal (in 14 attempts) when he swiped second base in the sixth inning. He is four for six with three walks in two games since returning from a three-game absence caused by sore left shoulder.
The Royals are 5-17 at Fenway Park since the start of the 1998 season.
The Red Sox are the second team this season to hit two grand slams in a game. The White Sox did it against Detroit on April 13.