BALTIMORE -- It's a question that comes to any ballplayer lucky enough to still be playing at age 38, a milestone reached Monday by Royals second baseman Mark Grudzielanek.
How much longer?
"If I feel like I’ve felt the last few days," he said, "I could easily play five more years. I'm feeling pretty good. I'm moving around better. My knees are good.
"But really? Two or three years, maybe."
The next question brings a lot more hedging: Here or somewhere else? Grudzielanek is in his third year with the Royals, but his current contract contains no vesting option for the future as in the past.
Grudzielanek also said there have been no talks regarding an extension -- and he seems to suggest that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
"I'm really up in the air," he said. "I really am. I've got a few more years left, and I’d like to make a run at it. The last few years have not left the best taste in my mouth, let’s be honest. I don't want to go out like that."
Grudzielanek remains productive in his 14th big-league season. He carried a .308 average into Monday's game against the Orioles after getting four hits in Sunday's 9-6 loss to the Cardinals. "He doesn't (play like he’s 38)," manager Trey Hillman said. "Grud is very tough. Obviously, we’ve had to make sure we take care of his body in day games after night games occasionally. But for me, when he’s out there, you see him diving and sliding, he doesn't play at 38."
Even so, the Royals now appear to have viable long-term alternatives at second base in Alberto Callaspo and Mike Aviles. That figures to make club officials more willing to entertain trade offers for Grudzielanek as the July 31 non-waiver deadline approaches. "Those are decisions that will be made when they have to be made," general manager Dayton Moore said. "But as far as his play, his performance speaks for itself."
Grudzielanek is willing to listen if the Royals want to discuss an extension. If not, he understands. "We'll have to wait and see what happens," he said. "We're still probably two or three guys away (from making a serious run at post-season). We’re definitely one big offensive guy away. But we are making strides. We're better. We'll see."
Monday was also the birthday of outfield prospect Mitch Maier, a first-round pick in 2003. He turned 26. Maier is batting .304 this season in 62 games at Class AAA Omaha with six homers and 31 RBIs. DeJesus better but still ailing
Outfielder David DeJesus remains sidelined by a bruised lower right rib cage suffered Sunday in collision at the plate with Cardinals catcher Jason LaRue. DeJesus slammed down onto LaRue's mask as the play's conclusion.
"I landed on his mask and, boom, that was it," said DeJesus, who exited Sunday’s game after two innings. "As I walked away from the play, I felt all right. But as soon as I got to the dugout, it was like, 'Oh, my gosh.' It's pretty sore."
DeJesus said the bruised area felt "much better" Monday than he expected, but Hillman indicated it could be a few days before DeJesus returns to the lineup.
"The part that I saw in the cage -- dry swings and then tee swings -- is as he comes through, it's affecting his right side," Hillman said. "There’s a deceleration of the swing. So it's still bothering him. It’s not even a natural swing yet."
Outfielder José Guillen and closer Joakim Soria were selected in a media vote as the Royals' player and pitcher of the month for June.
Both also won the award for May.
Guillen carried a .346 into Monday’s finale June game with seven homers and 24 RBIs in 26 games. Soria was 0-1 with 1.54 ERA in 11 appearances. He had nine saves in 10 chances and 11 strikeouts in 11 2/3 innings.
A winning June
The Royals, thanks to their interleague success, entered Monday's game already guaranteed of their first winning record in a full month since last July. They were 15-11 in June through Sunday.
The club was 13-12 last July after going 15-12 the previous month. That June 2007 mark ended a streak of 22 consecutive losing months dating to July 2003.
Omaha had an interesting Sunday. The O-Royals suffered a no-hitter by Oklahoma's Dustin Nippert in the first game of a double-header before bouncing back with a 10-8 slugfest victory in the nightcap. Both games were seven innings.
Nippert struck out five and walked two in an 86-pitch performance. He benefited from a scoring call in the seventh when Ryan Shealy's hot grounder off the glove of third baseman Travis Metcalf was ruled an error.
Gookie Dawkins’ two-run homer paced an 11-hit attack in the second game.
Third baseman Mike Moustakas, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2007 draft, hit his 12th homer in Class A Burlington’s 4-3 victory over Wisconsin. Moustakas has hits in four straight games and has raised his average to .242.
Monday marked the 39-year anniversary of the first walk-off homer in Royals history. Lou Piniella hit a two-out homer in the ninth against California's Rudy May for a 2-1 victory at Municipal Stadium.
Aviles replaced DeJesus as the leadoff hitter.
Billy Butler started for the first time in three games since his recall from Omaha. He served as the designated hitter.
The Royals entered the series with a seven-game losing streak at Camden Yards. They were 0-3 in 2006 and 0-4 in 2007.
An alert for DirecTV subscribers: Starting Wednesday, FSN Kansas City will switch from channel 648 to channel 672. The change is permanent.