Nothing in stone yet but how can you keep Mark Teahen out of the lineup? He’s hitting .500 after Saturday’s game against the Rangers. He has five homers and 12 RBIs in just 14 games, his spring curtailed by his World Baseball Classic absence.
The only question, of course, is can Teahen do the job defensively at second base? At times he looks a bit stiff out there but, as he did Saturday, he’s demonstrated he can handle the routine plays and do all right on the backhand.
The test, as Gold Glover Frank White often says, is whether or not Teahen can pull off the plays that happen with his back to first base. In other words, move toward the bag at second to take a throw and then pivot for a double play with a runner thundering right at him. Or slide to his right for a backhand stop, then plant, whirl and throw. That answer can only come in the heat of actual games and so far Teahen hasn’t had much of a test there.
But manager Trey Hillman said after Saturday’s game that he likes the way Teahen has played at second. And he’s got to absolutely love the way Teahen’s been hitting the ball.
Not much time left to make the second-base decision. And, in fact, Hillman could just switch from Teahen to Willie Bloomquist to Alberto Callaspo as the occasion demands.
But, on Opening Day, we might just see what we saw on Saturday at Surprise: Teahen playing second and batting third. Stay tuned on that.
There seems to be no credence at this point to a rumor that the New York Yankees might be interested in obtaining Mark Teahen from the Royals.
With third baseman Alex Rodriguez opting to undergo hip surgery that will keep him out of action for six to nine weeks, the Yankees have a gaping hole on their infield.
Apparently the rumor started with speculation by ESPN’s Jayson Stark. The rumor was passed along by the Kansas City Star on Sunday.
However, the report came as news to the Royals.
“They’re saying it on ESPN but there’s nothing on our end,” said a Royals official.
Royals manager Trey Hillman, asked about it after Sunday’s game, looked very surprised.
“That’s a head-turner for me,” he said.
Asked on Sunday if the Yankees are looking for other options to fill Rodriguez’s void, general manager Brian Cashman downplayed any rumors.
“I’ll be honest with you; we have not had any discussions internally about that – not myself daydreaming or my pro scouting director [Billy Eppler], though I know he’s proactive, so I’m sure he’s got his lists lined up,” Cashman said. “I guess that’s a gray area. Thankfully, we’re getting [Rodriguez] back, so if something makes sense that you run into, I think we’d gravitate to it. But it’s hard to run into things that make sense, so we’d probably wind up going with what we’ve got.”
What the Yankees have right now is Cody Ransom, a 33-year-old journeyman who batted .302 with four home runs and eight RBIs in 33 games for New York in 2008. Throughout his six-year career, the right-handed hitter has played seven games at third base.
ESPN’s Stark wrote last Thursday that trade options for the Yankees could include Teahen and the Oakland A’s Bobby Crosby. He also speculated that the Yankees might look at free agent Mark Grudzielanek, the ex-Royals second baseman who played many years on the left side at shortstop. In not third base, Grudzielanek presumably could play second base with Robinson Cano moving to third.
At any rate, Teahen or any other player apparently would be a temporary replacement until Rodriguez’s return.
Teahen, who hit .255 with 15 homers and 59 RBIs last season for the Royals, is away from the Royals’ camp to play for Canada in the World Baseball Classic. Moved out of the outfield when the Royals obtained Coco Crisp, he is a candidate for second base this spring.
However, the Royals also view him as a valuable and versatile player who can fill the corner positions in both the infield and outfield.
Teahen’s salary is $3.575 million so dealing him would enable the Royals to cut a payroll which has expanded beyond the budgeted $70 million.
There’s one certain link to the Royals if Rodriguez has his surgery. He won’t be in the Yankees’ lineup when they play in the Royals’ home opener on April 10.
But is there anything in the works regarding Teahen?
“Not to my knowledge at all,” said the Royals official.
— Dick Kaegel
Don’t get too discouraged by Mark Teahen’s first game at second base. It wasn’t pretty, he didn’t look very comfortable and all that but give it time. Teahen certainly wasn’t happy with his two errors and a couple of other misses but he kept an upbeat attitude.
“Obviously I would’ve liike to have made all the plays but that’s why we have Spring Training,” he said afterward. “I’m assuming I’ll feel more comfortable. That’s the plan. Like I said, you don’t want to peak too early so I’m giving myself room to go up.”
He was poking a little fun at himself there and that’s good. You can’t let this stuff get you down.
Manager Trey Hillman bumped into Teahen in the training room after Wednesday’s game and asked him if he wanted to discuss the game now or later. Teahen launched right into it.
One point Hillman made was that in the first inning, with one out and a man on first, Teahen might have just taken the ground ball he fielded to his left and thrown out the batter for the second out. Instead, he went for a double play and threw past shortstop MIke Aviles for an error. That open the gates for a six-run inning against Horacio Ramirez.
“From a mental mindset, he was in a good frame of mind. He pretty much understood and knew all the mistakes he had made,” Hillman told us on Thursday morning. “But, as we’ve talked, in the teaching moments he understood better after I explained the number of outs, how early we were in the game, Horacio having a chance to pitch out of some damaging run totals in the first inning. He understood a lot better about going to first base. He just did what he instinctively knew that he had the athletic ability to do. And he did have the athletic ability to do it, he just didn’t make an accurate throw.”
Small point but food for thought as Teahen adjusts to a new position.
— Dick Kaegel
Could Orlando Hudson be in the Royals’ second-base future? ESPN’s Buster Olney hears that the Royals are trying to figure out a way to fit Hudson into their budget.
That could be true because general manager Dayton Moore has said all along he’s always thinking about ways to improve the lineup. He also acknowledges that the problem is he’s reached (and probably exceeded) his $70-million plus payroll limit. Moore is already sticking his neck out to some degree. To add Hudson or any other player with a stiff price tag, Moore will have to lop off a sizable salary elsewhere.
There’s no doubt that Hudson, one of several alluring players still on the free-agent market, would help the Royals’ lineup. Right now at second base, there’s Alberto Callaspo and Willie Bloomquist set to do battle with Mark Teahen willing to shift to that spot if he can show he can handle it.
Moore will not comment on individual free agents and he cannot be asked about it now anyway. Sadly, he went to Houston on Saturday to be with his ailing mother.
Sure, Hudson would be a nice addition. But he won’t come cheap even if he’s running out of time; he made $6.25 million last year. Moore would have to figure out a money tradeoff to pull that off.
— Dick Kaegel