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Gutierrez makes good impression at plate

@alysonfooter
May 8, 2019

HOUSTON -- When a young player is given playing time due to a more established player nursing an injury, the best he can hope for is to give his manager and coaching staff something to think about. Kelvin Gutierrez certainly did that during the ample playing time he received as

HOUSTON -- When a young player is given playing time due to a more established player nursing an injury, the best he can hope for is to give his manager and coaching staff something to think about.

Kelvin Gutierrez certainly did that during the ample playing time he received as the primary third baseman in Hunter Dozier's absence in the field. Gutierrez played in every game after being recalled from Triple-A Omaha on April 26 and gave the Royals' lineup a boost, logging 12 hits in 40 at-bats (.300) with three extra-base hits -- one double, one triple, one homer -- and 10 RBIs.

The rookie third baseman downplayed the notion of trying to force the team’s hand in terms of earning more playing time, insisting that wasn’t on his mind when he first came up. Rather, he was more focused on simply not changing anything as he transitioned from Triple-A to the Majors.

“I was just thinking about coming up here to play baseball the way I’ve always played it,” Gutierrez said before Wednesday night's 9-0 loss to the Astros in the series finale.

That was plenty to impress manager Ned Yost.

“It’s nice, especially since all the reports I got even coming into Spring Training from the trade last year [with the Nationals] that he was a defender first,” Yost said. “That his strength was defense at third base. He came to Spring Training this season and the first time I had a chance to really see him, I was impressed with his size, impressed with his athleticism.”

Gutierrez’s playing time will be less frequent, now that Dozier has recovered from back pain that limited him to designated hitting duty beginning on April 21, with three starts at first base sprinkled in. Gutierrez could be used at first base on occasion, but for the most part, his playing time is likely to remain at third. That’ll make it challenging for him to receive at-bats with the same regularity as he enjoyed when he first came up from Omaha.

Gutierrez wasn’t in the starting lineup for either of the final two games in Houston, but he is confident that he will be ready whenever called upon.

“I prepare every day as if I’m playing, and when the opportunity arises, I’ll be prepared,” he said.

Run differential improvement

The Royals’ record was around the same as it was through 37 games last season, and while a 13-24 mark entering Wednesday leaves something to be desired, there are comparisons to the 2018 squad that suggest things are improving.

After 37 games last season, the Royals had a -57 run differential, but heading into Wednesday’s game, their run differential this season was -3.

This can be partially attributed to a combination of several close losses to go with a few blowout wins. Tuesday's 12-2 win over the Astros was the Royals' second landslide victory of the road trip -- they pummeled the Tigers in Detroit on May 4, 15-3 -- while their three losses on this swing were by a combined six runs.

Auction set for Friday

Royals Charities and FOX Sports Kansas City will partner for the 10th annual Broadcast Auction, which will take place throughout the telecast on Friday during the Royals’ game against the Phillies.

Viewers have the opportunity to bid on several unique experiences, including dinner with Hall of Famer George Brett, a CrownVision video game party and a road trip to Washington D.C., to see the Royals play the Nationals in July.

For more information, visit royals.com/broadcastauction.

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.