To a pitcher trying to escape a rally without any more damage, Pedro Florimon’s spectacular glovework was the most impressive part of his day Thursday.

“Florimon made a pretty good play on [Billy] Butler, a couple of times,” said an appreciative Mike Pelfrey. “He really helped bail me out.”

But to a manager, the best skill that Florimon displayed probably wasn’t with his glove, his feet or his throwing arm. It was his brain.

Florimon learned from his mistakes Wednesday, and displayed that knowledge a day later, just a few hours after Ron Gardenhire explained how Florimon was learning situational thinking.

“It’s just knowing the runner,” Gardenhire said.

The day before, on a similar play also against Butler, “he tried to do a little bit too much.”

Butler, the Royals’ designated hitter, is the slowest runner in Kansas City’s lineup, yet Florimon resorted to a barehanded grab-and-throw to try to retire him in the fifth inning Tuesday. He couldn’t make the pickup cleanly, and Butler was awarded a hit.

“He didn’t have to barehand that ball,” Gardenhire said of the teaching moment. Butler is so slow, Florimon “should have gloved the ball. He probably would have got the runner out.”

A day later, after his usual give-and-take with his manager during batting practice, the 26-year-old Dominican shortstop was ready. Butler hit a sharp ground ball past Pelfrey in the fourth inning, and Florimon grabbed it as he ran toward right field, took the time to spin completely around, and retired him with an accurate throw.

Two innings later, after Pelfrey gave up the tying run, Florimon helped avoid further damage when Butler again drove a hot grounder up the middle. This time, Florimon stretched out and dived for the ball, then bounced up and made a strong throw to get him by a step.