Friday, September 4, 2009
Hillman to manage Royals next season
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City Royals manager Trey Hillman hasn't put a whole lot of thought into job security and certainly hasn't lost any sleep over it. He's been too busy trying to get the Royals headed in the right direction.
But when general manager Dayton Moore said Hillman would be back in 2010 despite the team's struggles this season, well, that was definitely good news.
"It's very nice to have a boss that believes in you, believes in your track record, believes in what you do regardless of what the record is this season," Hillman said before Friday's game against the Los Angeles Angels.
Hillman wasn't with the team most of the week. His father-in-law died on Monday and he had been with family before rejoining the team before Friday's game.
While he was gone, Moore told The Kansas City Star that he believed in Hillman despite the team's first-to-worst spiral, saying injuries and subpar seasons by key players were more to blame than anything the manager did in the dugout. Hillman didn't find out about Moore's comments until a few minutes before his pregame meeting with reporters.
"I don't make any excuses, I take accountability for records, I take accountability for criticisms are thrown, but it's nice when you've got a boss who believes in what you do," Hillman said Friday. "It's nice of him to speak out the way that he did."
Kansas City opened the season 18-11, led the AL Central by three games. A rapid decent down the standings came next, leaving the Royals with the AL's worst record (51-82) headed into Friday's game.
Hillman has taken plenty of criticism for the free fall, from the way he's handled the bullpen to the high pitch counts some of the starters have had.
Much of what happened to the Royals, though, was out of his control.
Injuries certainly hurt. Third baseman Alex Gordon had hip surgery in April, missed three months and then struggled when he got back. Shortstop Mike Aviles and center fielder Coco Crisp had season-ending injuries. All-Star closer Joakim Soria and right fielder Jose Guillen, one of the team's top run producers, spent time on the DL.
The players on the field didn't produce like the Royals had hoped, either. Proven starters faltered, big bats failed to come through and the bullpen, supposedly a strength, seemingly found a new way to struggle each day.
Through it all, Hillman kept grinding, controlling what he could, letting everything else play itself out.
"Nobody likes to be fired, nobody likes to be let go, but it's just something I don't lose a lot of sleep over," Hillman said. "I come to work, try to do the best job I can every day and control the things I can. Unfortunately, in this position there are a lot things you can't control."