August 13, 2014

Royals’ Christian Colon works for lineup chance

Royals utility player Christian Colon works hard before the game even starts, and he earned a start in Wednesday’s game against the A’s.

Christian Colon made his second start in Wednesday’s 3-0 victory over the A’s since being called up on July 27, and manager Ned Yost knows how difficult inactivity can be.

“It’s tougher for a young guy,” Yost said. “Older guys know what’s expected of them.”

But in Colon, in the lineup at third base for Mike Moustakas and batting ninth, the Royals have an exception.

“He acts like an older guy,” Yost said. “He keeps himself prepared for anything that can happen. He takes ground balls at second, and at third.

“You’ll see him out there before his group hits, he’s running the bases in case we need him as a pinch runner. He’s in the cage for early batting practice every day. He does a great job keeping himself prepared to be ready for when his name is called.”

When it was called Wednesday, Colon answered emphatically. He hustled out a bunt, scored the Royals’ third run and made a couple of nice stops in the field.

The biggest play in his runscoring sequence came on the base path. Colon was on second when Omar Infante hit a slow roller to short. Colon took off for third.

“I read it,” Colon said. “It was hit slow, and (Infante) did a great job getting down the line.”

Colon, an everyday player in the minors, has a different role with the Royals as a spark off the bench or a spot starter — and it’s one he embraces.

“You never know when you’re going to be in the game,” Colon said. “You have to be prepared. It’s my job.”

That’s why he’s taking ground ball or running the bases.

“I can win a game running the bases if I pinch run,” Colon said. “I like to run the bases every day, just to get live reads. In my mind, I think, let’s do a hit and run here. Or let’s go first to third. Maybe I can win a game like that.”

Colon’s success against A’s starter Scott Kazmir in the Royals’ Aug. 3 victory at Oakland — his leadoff double started a four-run inning in a 4-2 victory — played into Yost’s decision.

Wednesday marked Colon’s fourth start, his first at Kauffman Stadium. He’d made five other appearances as a pinch runner or pinch hitter, and the former first-round and fourth overall selection is likely to start at second in the series finale Thursday.

“We want to get him going a little bit,” Yost said.

Wheels Willingham

Nobody expected it, least of all A’s starter Scott Kazmir. Josh Willingham had singled in the fourth inning and took the conservative lead of a player with one stolen base this season and 34 in his 11-year major-league career.

But off he went, and Willingham slid into second without a throw. The stolen base was the first by a Royals’ designated hitter since Billy Butler’s swipe on July 5, 2012, in Toronto.

Willingham wasn’t finished with the jets. When Kazmir’s pickoff attempt went into center field, Willingham dashed for third and slid in ahead of the tag.

To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to Follow him on Twitter: @BlairKerkhoff.

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