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Royals notebook: Olivo accepts reduced suspension and fine

CHICAGO _ Royals catcher Miguel Olivo figured it was the best deal he could get. "I knew I was going to get suspended," he said, "and I needed to get this over with. I'll get ready to play (Tuesday) in Cleveland." Olivo began serving a four-game suspension Thursday after a negotiated agreement with Major League Baseball trimmed one game from the original ban and sliced his $2,000 fine to $1,000. The Royals opted not to replace Olivo on their roster and will instead use outfielder Mitch Maier as an emergency backup to starting catcher John Buck through the upcoming three-game weekend series in New York. Maier was drafted as a catcher in 2003 but hasn't played the position since his first professional season. "I guess, if need be in an emergency, I'll catch," he said. "I hope it doesn't happen. But if need be, I'll go back there and do what I can do." Olivo's suspension stems from igniting an on-field scrum Aug. 3 against the White Sox by charging the mound after being hit with a pitch by reliever D.J. Carrasco. Olivo, Carrasco and Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen were ejected for the incident. Royals pitcher Zack Greinke and manager Trey Hillman were ejected two innings when Greinke hit Nick Swisher in apparent retaliation. Major League Baseball took no action against Carrasco but imposed fines and five-game suspensions on Olivo and Greinke. Hillman and Guillen received one-game suspensions and fines. "I protected myself," Olivo insisted. "They threw at me, and I charged the mound. Things happen in baseball. The thing is, the White Sox are the team I came up with. I have a lot of friends over there. I don't have anything against them." Greinke initially appealed his suspension and $1,500 fine. He later dropped his appeal and began serving his ban last Sunday. His suspension concludes after tonight's game, and he is scheduled to start Saturday at Yankee Stadium. Teams must play short-handed when players serve suspensions for on-field incidents. That means the Royals had only 23 active players Thursday and will have the same number Friday for their series opener against the Yankees. "No roster move," Hillman said. "We're going to try to stay pat and go with Mitch. We'll let him be the fix-it guy should we have a need. Hopefully, we won't." Olivo's suspension is his second of the season. He missed the first four games because of a ban imposed for his part in an on-field brawl last September while playing for the Florida Marlins against the New York Mets. "I'm not happy at all," he said. "I can't play. They threw at me, and I reacted. I wasn't the first one to do that, and I won't be the last one."

Maier on call Maier auditioned for his role as emergency catcher by handling Greinke's regular between-starts throwing session Wednesday in the bullpen. "He looked just fine," Hillman said. "As far as live catching action, it's been going on five years for him. He looked good receiving, and I emphasized it would be in an emergency situation only." Maier was an All-America catcher at Toledo when the Royals selected him as the 30th overall pick in the 2003 draft. He caught that year at Spokane but switched in 2004 to third base. He became a full-time outfielder in 2005. "It's not quite like riding a bike," Maier admitted, "but when I caught the bullpen (workout), the receiving stuff was fine. I didn't have any problem as far as catching pitches. "I didn't do any blocking or throwing drills. But as far as the receiving part, that went fine." Maier, 26, would likely only be asked to complete a game if anything happens to Buck. The Royals figure to recall Matt Tupman from Class AAA Omaha before asking Maier to start a game. "I'll be able to catch the ball," Maier said. "Calling a game would probably come from the dugout, obviously. As long as they're not putting it in the dirt, I think I'll be all right. "Throwing? It won't be any worse than it was. That's part of the reason I'm not back there any more."

DeJesus sits Two days of weak at-bats landed outfielder David DeJesus on the bench for Thursday's finale in hopes that a respite will aid his sore lower back. "There's definitely a lack of focus in what David is swinging at," Hillman said, "and I think most of that goes back to how he's feeling." DeJesus was hitless in eight at-bats over the two previous games and has only one hit in 16 at-bats since missing five games because of his ailing back and a sore left ankle. His average is down to .291. The Royals' decision to use Maier as their backup catcher stems, in part, from the uncertainty surrounding DeJesus' availability. Maier started Thursday in center field. "I'd rather keep the roster that we have right now," Hillman said. "I think it gives us a little bit more latitude." DeJesus will be reevaluated before tonight's game in New York.

Minor details Third baseman Mike Moustakas, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2007 draft, hit his Midwest League-leading 21st homer Wednesday night in Class A Burlington's 11-10 loss at Clinton. Moustakas also had a single and raised his average to .266. He is batting .318 in 31 games since July 1.

To reach Bob Dutton, Royals reporter for The Star, call (816) 234-4352 or send email to bdutton@kcstar.com.

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