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Seitzer Impresses the Royals, Whatever His Role

June 19, 1987|JOHN WEYLER | Times Staff Writer

Kevin Seitzer played in only 28 major league games last season, but that was more than enough to convince the Kansas City Royals that he had a future.

They loved the way Seitzer, 25, swung the bat (he hit .323 with 2 homers and 11 RBIs with the Royals in 1986). And though some questioned his defensive ability, no one doubted his defensive versatility (he played left field, third base and first base last season).

Some even went so far as to compare him to a young George Brett.

But what impressed the Royals most was Seitzer's unbridled enthusiasm and his do-whatever-it-takes-to-win attitude.

Consider the Royals' 5-2 loss at Minnesota June 9:

In the eighth inning, the Twins' Dan Gladden dropped a perfect bunt down the third base line. Seitzer watched the ball roll for a moment, then fell to his knees and tried to blow the ball foul. It stayed fair, however, and when the third base umpire informed Seitzer that this particular wind-aided tactic was illegal, Seitzer was upset.

"You mean I made a (fool) of myself for nothing?" he asked.

Seitzer has been able to help the Royals in more conventional ways, though. Thursday night in Anaheim Stadium, he had two singles, scored twice and drove in a run as Kansas City beat the Angels, 10-4.

Seitzer, who has a seven-game hitting streak, is batting .311. That's about as low as his average has been. He may not be drawing as much attention as the Royals' other rookie, Bo Jackson, but that's OK with him.

"With all the ink Bo's getting, it takes the pressure off me," he said. "I can just relax and concentrate on playing ball."

Seitzer was supposed to be the Royals' left fielder this season, but that changed two days before spring training began when it was decided that would be Jackson's territory. Seitzer opened at first base.

That lasted about two weeks until Brett pulled a muscle in his rib cage and went on the disabled list April 19.

Seitzer was moved to third.

Brett returned May 13 only to go back on the DL on May 16 after suffering a partial ligament tear in his right knee. Brett is back and serving as the designated hitter. So Seitzer's still playing third, but Manager Billy Gardner says he will move to first when Brett is ready to play in the field.

"We were really lucky to have a kid like him when George went down," Gardner said. "He never played third in spring, but he's been steady . . . he's done an outstanding job. It's nice to have a guy like that with the 24-man roster.

"He's a good No. 2 hitter because he doesn't strike out a lot and he moves the ball around the field."

That was evident Thursday night. With one out and runners on first and second in the third, Seitzer lined a single to right-center to score Angel Salazar from second. When no one was covering second, Seitzer raced into second. Later, he scored on Frank White's two-run double.

In the seventh, Seitzer followed Willie Wilson's leadoff single with a sharp single to left. Brett's double moved him to third where he tagged up and scored on White's medium-deep sacrifice fly to center.

"My goal is to hit .300, produce consistently and do everything I possibly can to help this club," Seitzer said. "I really don't mind shifting positions all the time. It's kind of fun moving all around.

"Heck, I just want to \o7 play\f7 ."

If he continues to hit as he has during his first 3 1/2 months in the big leagues, the Royals will find him a place to play. But don't count on it being the same place every night.

For Kevin Seitzer, it's seldom a case of "same place, same thing."

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