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Willingham homers, adds to great start in KC

Outfielder batting .344 with six RBIs since trade from Twins @KCKaegel

ARLINGTON -- Outfielder Josh Willingham has fit in nicely since being obtained from the Twins on Aug. 11.

After hitting a home run in the series-opening 6-3 win on Friday night at Texas, he was 11-for-32 (.344 average) with four doubles, two homers and six RBIs with the Royals.

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"They were playing real well when they acquired me and I just want to come in here and chip in and I feel like I've been able to do that and just sort of keep the train rolling," Willingham said.

He was in Friday night's lineup as the designated hitter due largely to his career success against Rangers right-hander Colby Lewis.

"He gives you fastballs to hit most of the time and if you can be on time and square it up, you've got a good chance of hitting it out," Willingham said. "That's what happened tonight, he left me a fastball out over the plate."

After Lewis plunked him with a pitch in his first at-bat, Willingham pounded a home run to center field to lead off the fourth inning. That was his fourth home run among eight hits off Lewis in 24 at-bats.

"He got ahead of me 0-2, I think, and I was battling back and got the count to 3-2. He got one out over the plate that I could handle and it felt pretty good," Willingham said.

Willingham can do more than DH, of course. Normally a left fielder, he made a rare start in right field on Wednesday night at Colorado.

"It was something I'm not really used," Willingham said. "But I've been working out there a little bit ... obviously most of my experience has been in left field and I would say it was different. It took a couple innings to get used to everything but it was fine."

He's working with outfield coach Rusty Kuntz and they go way back.

"Rusty and I go all the way to the year 2000 so I knew him when I came over here," Willingham said. "He worked for the Marlins when I got there. Rusty's a great coach and very smart. Also, he's funny and lightens the mood a lot."

Another thing that lightens the mood is winning.

"It's awesome being in a pennant race, every game, every at-bat means something and it's been a lot of fun. I've felt pretty good," Willingham said.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for

Kansas City Royals, Josh Willingham