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03/25/08 1:30 AM ET
Gathright steps up with teammate hurt
Outfielder notches three hits after DeJesus sprains ankle
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Center fielder David DeJesus twisted his right ankle and left Monday night's game early, but the injury was not believed to be serious. Joey Gathright took his place and had a spectacular game, leaping over Los Angeles pitcher Hiroki Kuroda in a highlight-reel moment and getting three hits against the Dodgers. DeJesus twisted his ankle while leaving the batter's box as he grounded out in the first inning of the Royals' 10-9 victory. He stayed in the game for another inning before leaving. "As far as I know it's not [serious]," manager Trey Hillman said. "I'm just trying to be careful. It's bothering him a little bit. He went ahead and played the inning, but I wanted to be careful." In the third inning, Gathright was running out a hopper that brought Kuroda into the first-base line. Avoiding a collision, Gathright launched himself and hurdled the startled Kuroda, who let the ball get away. This is the same Gathright who is noted for jumping over automobiles, a youthful craze he's supposedly given up. "I did," he said, "but I've got to get that RBI and a hit. I've got to help the team out." Apparently he hasn't given up jumping over pitchers. "I do not know what happened on that play -- honest," he said. "It just happened. You can't really explain it." Told it was an amazing thing to see, Gathright smiled. "It was an amazing thing to do," he said. Gathright didn't stop there. He also made a diving catch of Andre Ethier's line drive in the seventh inning. "[Yasuhiko] Yabuta just gave up a hit that I didn't want to see drop. So I had to go and get it," Gathright said. In the eighth, he popped a bunt over pitcher Jonathon Broxton and got a single that raised his spring average to .354. The pop bunt is becoming a habit for him. "It's happened three or four times this spring," Gathright said. "I'm not really working on it, it just happens." To top off his night, he then stole second base -- his 10th steal in 10 attempts. It's another thing that just keeps happening.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.