Trey Hillman: Season One
A Major League manager has duties that extend beyond what happens on the field, in the dugout and in the clubhouse. One major part of the job is to speak with the media on a daily basis. ATH estimates that Trey Hillman has had over 400 media sessions during his first season with the Royals. That’s two a day for nearly all of the 162 regular season games, plus spring training. Questioners come and go during the season, but it’s usually the same core contingent. Manager Hillman now knows many of these people very well. Today, he met with them one final time to discuss the 2008 Royals and what he sees going into 2009. Here’s a snippet of what he had to say:
Overall impression of 2008: Trey mentioned that the team made considerable progress as they finished 13.0 games behind the division leader after being 27.0 games back in 2007.
On pitching: Hillman’s opening remarks included emphasis on Zack Greinke’s strong season. He later touched on Greinke’s strong preparation during the season. The emergence of Kyle Davies (right) was a key point that Hillman drove home. He said that Davies worked with Bob McClure and really improved his mental approach to each and every start down the stretch.
Differences between Japan and the U.S.: Hillman did not see “earth shattering” differences between the managing environments. He did note that Japanese teams have only one minor league club, so players have a little more urgency to prove themselves.
The September charge: The Royals finished a MLB best 18-8. Hillman noted that the strong finish left him with some nice memories to hang on to. He was impressed with the high character and intense work ethic of Kila Ka’aihue and Ryan Shealy. Hillman described the emotion that Devon Lowery brought to his first big league appearance. Manager Hillman will be speaking to the Royals’ instructional league players in Arizona on Wednesday morning. The “never be content” attitude of Ka’aihue, Shealy, and Lowery figures to be a central theme of his speech.
Changes in approach for 2009: Hillman spent much of the 2007-08 offseason getting to know the players on his roster. Now that relationships have been made, he wants to focus on other areas. He believes that any manager should strive to get better each season. One of his goals is to manage people better.
How the Royals can improve in 2009: When a media member asked if the Royals needed another big bat in the offense, Hillman contended that the run differential could be narrowed more by improvements on the mound. He said that the Royals will look for ways to add runs, but sometimes it is easier to improve from a pitching standpoint.
Other notes: Hillman will be studying an external hard drive filled with video of potential free agents. He has a ‘wish list’ of free agents, but he will leave any negotiating to Dayton Moore and his baseball operations staff. Hillman knows that the health of his players will go a long way toward a successful 2009. He has been working with the Royals training and conditioning staff for a few months on a ‘check and balance’ system for individual health and workouts this off season.
Royals Player/Pitcher of the Month: The September winners are Ryan Shealy and Zack Greinke. As we mentioned yesterday on ATH, Shealy led the Royals with 7 home runs, 20 RBI, and a .603 slugging percentage. This is his first Player of the Month award. Greinke went 4-1 with a 2.18 ERA, which placed sixth in the American League. The right-hander did not allow a run over his final 2 starts. This is Zack’s second monthly honor in 2008 (also April) and third of his career (September 2004).