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Cochise
01-17-2007, 12:54 PM
Maybe he's got his head on straight now?


KANSAS CITY -- It's been happy days for Angel Berroa since the Royals' season ended.

His wife, Jennifer, gave birth to their first child, Angel Luis. He joined his in-laws, coach Luis and Yenny Silverio, in living in Kansas City. He videotaped the Dominican-raised Silverio kids sledding through the snow. During the Christmas holidays, he was the bubbling and entertaining host for family and friends.

And Berroa also has been grinding out workouts almost daily at Kauffman Stadium since the last out of the 2006 season. That's because 2007 depends a lot on him.

"We expect to do well and we won't do well unless we have a consistent shortstop. He knows that, he understands that," general manager Dayton Moore said.

Berroa, who'll again team with second baseman Mark Grudzielanek, is the focal point of the Royals' middle infield. He has been since he was Rookie of the Year in 2003. But, after falling off for three straight years, can he regain that stature?

"When I was out on the Caravan, a lot of fans were asking about it," Moore said.

"He's a Major League Baseball player. He knows what he needs to do to prepare better than you or I know. He's there working hard every day and I think he's going to have a good year. I really believe that."

So does Berroa.

Repeatedly, he's vowed fans will again see the 2003 Berroa. To that end, he's put himself on a grueling program. In addition to Silverio, he's enlisted the aid of ex-Major Leaguer David Segui, a Kansas City resident.

"He showed me a couple of good things -- hitting stuff," Berroa said. "He just wants to help make me consistent and be strong mentally."

Berroa hit just .234 last year and had nine homers and 54 RBIs. That, combined with a team-high 18 errors, made him the favorite target of boo-birds.

Berroa is working to quicken his fielding movements and avoid errors on routine plays. He's been doing agility training but the actual fielding work has been limited.

"It's been so cold that it's hard for me to do much. I've been throwing but we'll really get into defense in Spring Training," he said.

In sharp contract last season was Grudzielanek, who won his first Gold Glove trophy as he fielded magnificently. He made just four errors and participated in a league-high 111 double plays.

"There's nothing better than a double play. It's a rally-killer, an inning-ending play that can really catapult -- give you a positive motivation to go into that next inning," Grudzielanek said.

Gruzielanek also led the Royals' regulars with a .297 average and 85 runs scored. Mostly he batted in the crucial No. 2 slot, showing an ability to hit behind the runner and the willingness to give up himself to advance a teammate.

The Royals were so impressed that they re-signed Grudzielanek with a player option for 2008. Berroa is signed through the 2008 season.

Others in the middle infield include Esteban German, Andres Blanco, Angel Sanchez and Alex S. Gonzalez.

German, primarily a second baseman, batted .326 and was the club's best pinch-hitter (7-for-18, .389). Despite that success and his popularity, the Royals prefer German in a reserve role.

Blanco is a shortstop who also is smooth at second base. His drawback is a light bat. He had left shoulder surgery late last year and might not be ready until near the end of Spring Training.

Sanchez hit .282 at Double-A Wichita but made 26 errors and probably needs a year of fine-tuning with Triple-A Omaha. He's probably the best shortstop prospect in the organization right now.

Gonzalez, who was the Toronto Blue Jays' shortstop for several years, will come to camp as a backup candidate. He fills the need for a veteran who could step in if Berroa falters or is hurt.

But disappointment by Berroa would not be an option the Royals really want to consider.

"I think [manager] Buddy [Bell] put it well: Nobody wants to do better than Berroa," Moore said. "He put a lot of pressure on himself and it steamrolled. But he's still a young player and a young player has to learn to manage failure. And he's learning to manage it."

Berroa knows what he wants to do better this year.

"Everything," he said.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Talk is cheap, but at least he has stayed in town this offseason. Maybe he'll match work ethic up with his talent.

FringeNC
01-17-2007, 12:57 PM
Maybe he's got his head on straight now?



Talk is cheap, but at least he has stayed in town this offseason. Maybe he'll match work ethic up with his talent.

His big problem is plate discipline, and that is very hard to improve at this stage of his career.

tk13
01-17-2007, 01:05 PM
Well, if nothing else, Segui will know where to get him some HGH. :)

At this point, I'm more concerned with his defense than plate discipline. He just needs to stay mentally focused and not make stupid errors... although sometimes I think just being on a team that isn't losing 100+ games would really help him... the one year we had a winning record he was locked in pretty well. But I just want him to be solid up the middle on defense, then worry about making contact at the plate.

Demonpenz
01-17-2007, 01:08 PM
He has some things you can't fix like instincts and dumbassery. He always looses his head once a game. I hope he does well though. People rag on him and he aint the biggest problem. If he could just take some more pitches and learn to make the routine plays he will be alright. I heard he takes it the hardest the way the fans treat him.

FringeNC
01-17-2007, 01:10 PM
Well, if nothing else, Segui will know where to get him some HGH. :)

At this point, I'm more concerned with his defense than plate discipline. He just needs to stay mentally focused and not make stupid errors... although sometimes I think just being on a team that isn't losing 100+ games would really help him... the one year we had a winning record he was locked in pretty well. But I just want him to be solid up the middle on defense, then worry about making contact at the plate.

I think that his struggles at the plate carried over onto the field. There is really no reason to be hopeful about the guy, but maybe he'll prove everyone wrong.

The reason it will be hard for him to replicate the success he had early on is pitchers now know they don't have to throw him pitches anywhere near the strike zone.

Cochise
01-17-2007, 01:11 PM
I think that at the end of the day, he is a shortstop. If he can hit .260 and 10, drive in 50, that's fine if he can keep the defense solid. Just bat him 9th and move on with our lives.

Being competitive might be what he needs to stay focused in the field, like tk said. I think that is his main problem, keeping focus.

kc rush
01-17-2007, 01:23 PM
I heard he takes it the hardest the way the fans treat him.

Boo Hoo. If he was just average people wouldn't get on him. If he takes it so personally you would think that he would have put in the effort prior to this year.

I wonder if was coasting because he was an Allard guy. Now that Moore is in place and cleaning house he knows that he had better improve or there won't be many jobs out there for him.

Demonpenz
01-17-2007, 01:26 PM
Boo Hoo. If he was just average people wouldn't get on him. If he takes it so personally you would think that he would have put in the effort prior to this year.

I wonder if was coasting because he was an Allard guy. Now that Moore is in place and cleaning house he knows that he had better improve or there won't be many jobs out there for him.

i ain't going to look at the stats but I think he is average. I am not boo hooing for him, I just like to think that some players take it serious. Not just smoke weed and hang out with Jay-Z

kc rush
01-17-2007, 01:34 PM
i ain't going to look at the stats but I think he is average. I am not boo hooing for him, I just like to think that some players take it serious. Not just smoke weed and hang out with Jay-Z

I wasn't saying you were boo hooing for him. I was directing the boo hoo toward him. I think you are wrong about him being average though. I'll have to go look at some stats.

kc rush
01-17-2007, 02:01 PM
Among shortstops in 2006 with a minimum of 130 games played, Berroa is -

2nd to last in batting avg at .238
Last in on base % at .259
Tied for 8th worst with 18 errors.

You could forgive fielding problems if he was productive at bat, or good at fielding and less productive. Berroa seems to do neither.

I do think he has the ability to be average or better, it just seems that his head isn't in the game. That is more frustrating than anything.