SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) In the hall outside the Royals' spring training clubhouse, there's a life-size portrait of Johnny Giavotella above an inscription that reads, "The George Brett 2011 Hitter of the Year."
Talk about a lot to live up to.
Giavotella led all minor leaguers with 153 hits last year at Triple-A Omaha, and compiled a .305 average over four minor league seasons, earning him a promotion to Kansas City in August.
"Anytime you're mentioned in the same breath with George Brett it's an accomplishment," said Giavotella, who was the Royals' second-round pick out of the University of New Orleans in 2008.
"I'm very proud to have my picture up there."
Now, the trick is to replicate the success on the big league level.
Giavotella hit just .247 with nine doubles, four triples, two homers and 21 RBIs in 178 at-bats with Kansas City. Fighting pain in his right hip and leg, he showed flashes of becoming a franchise second baseman, but also signs that he has plenty of growing left ...