Royals’ Palmer Seems Suited to DH
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Dean Palmer, a fine third baseman, is beginning to look like an excellent designated hitter.
How strange it would be if a sore foot triggers an important career change for the soft-spoken, seven-year veteran.
``I have seen what you have seen,″ Kansas City manager Tony Muser said. ``I am thinking the same thing you are thinking. I’m not ready to make any decisions right now. But you haven’t seen the last of Dean Palmer at third base.″
In an effort to rest the foot, Muser slotted Palmer at designated hitter about a week ago. The results have been fairly spectacular _ five home runs, nine hits, 12 RBIs and a .375 average in seven games. In victories over Baltimore Friday and Saturday, Palmer had three home runs and eight RBIs. A run-scoring grounder in Sunday’s 9-2 loss gave him nine RBIs for the three-game series against the team that hit town with the best record in the major leagues since the All-Star break.
``I’ve had good streaks before,″ Palmer said. ``But this is about as good as it gets for me.″
Palmer is no stranger to sudden, impressive surges. He had nine home runs and 27 RBIs in April, breaking Bo Jackson’s team record of eight homers in the first month and wiping out the April record of 21 RBIs shared by Al Cowens and Bob Hamelin.
But he’s almost always been exclusively a third baseman. In six seasons with the Texas Rangers, Palmer can remember being a DH ``only a few times.″
``We always had a really good DH in those years and there was no need to look for anybody else,″ said Palmer, who came into the season with a .249 lifetime average and 163 home runs.
But he admits the DH role seems to suit him.
``You do prepare differently,″ he said. ``You don’t have to spend all the time worrying (about playing in the field). You can just relax and concentrate on hitting.″
Would he like to become the Royals’ full-time DH? Terry Pendleton seems recovered from a series of nagging injuries and has played well at third. In addition, Scott Leius, called up from Omaha last Friday, filled in well at third on Sunday.
``I’m not sure,″ he said. ``I guess everybody likes to play a position.″
There’s no question, however, that he’s been smacking the ball. A few sessions with hitting coach Tom Poquette may also have played a factor.
``I’m not doing a whole lot different,″ he said. ``He told me to narrow up my stance and that has helped me stay back on it. I am seeing the ball a lot better than I was.″
``It’s true that players sometimes discover well into their careers that they have a certain talent for a certain position,″ Muser said. ``It’s something we’re going to be thinking about. And talking about.″