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Royals notebook: Shealy making his case since returning from minors

CLEVELAND | First baseman Ryan Shealy doesn’t want to think about what comes next. How the Royals have to make a decision on him in the upcoming off-season because he is out of options. What that means for the next step in his career.

“I’m trying my hardest not to put it into perspective,” he said. “I spent all of last year worrying about stuff that was out of my control. This year, I just told myself to come up here and play.

“When I’m in (the lineup), I’m in there. I’m really just enjoying it. To use the old cliché, I’m enjoying each day.”

Then again, how could Shealy not be enjoying himself? He hit two more homers and matched a career high with five RBIs in Sunday’s 13-3 pummeling of the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field.

That followed his first career four-hit effort in the second game of Saturday’s double-header sweep. Shealy is batting .370 with 10 hits in 27 at-bats, including four homers, in seven games since his Sept. 2 recall from Class AAA Omaha.

“I’m just playing, having fun and enjoying being back up here,” he said. “We’re winning some games, too, on top of it.”

Shealy, 29, once appeared set as a cornerstone of the club’s rebuilding effort after arriving July 31, 2006, from Colorado. He lost his starting job last year and spent all of this season in the minors before his September summons.

His time at Omaha didn’t start well, either.

Shealy was batting just .222 through May while battling injuries before rebounding to finish at .283 with 22 homers and 65 RBIs in 111 games. “I got off to a slow start, then I was hurt,” he said. “But I was pretty consistent for the last few months of the year. I was happy with where I ended up.”

Gordon returns

The real test for third baseman Alex Gordon came in the ninth inning after he made a diving, back-hand stop on a sharp grounder by Franklin Gutierrez. Gordon bounced to his feet and made a strong throw for the out.

“I didn’t feel anything,” he said. “So that’s good.”

Very good. It means that torn right hip flexor really is OK.

Gordon returned to the lineup Sunday for the first time since suffering the injury Aug. 21 on the Royals’ previous visit to Progressive Field. He went two for five in addition to that sparkling defensive play.

“I felt a little off at the plate,” he admitted. “I hadn’t seen any live pitching that whole time. But I got a couple of lucky hits. That gets the confidence up.”

Back to the pen

Robinson Tejeda isn’t likely to get another start despite his strong five innings in the second game of Saturday’s sweep against the Indians. He allowed one run and two hits in an 80-pitch performance.

“It shouldn’t change things,” manager Trey Hillman said, “but it’s certainly a consideration if we think somebody is hitting a bump for some reason.”

Tejeda’s victory was his first as a starter since June 8, 2007, when he worked 6 2/3 innings for Texas in a 9-6 victory over Milwaukee.

Minor details

Some quick thoughts from assistant general manager J.J. Picollo on four of the key players in Class A Burlington’s unbeaten run through the Midwest League playoffs.

  • 3B Mike Moustakas (the No. 2 overall pick in the 2007 draft): “Mike was able to make adjustments at the plate throughout the year. He is now using the whole field and becoming a complete hitter. He made the transition (form shortstop) to third base easily and has tremendous upside.”
  • RHP Danny Gutierrez (33rd-round pick in 2005): “Danny is starting to come into his own. He's got a good delivery with great command of three pitches. He arguably has the best command of above-average stuff in our system.”
  • 2B Johnny Giavotella (second-round pick in 2008): “He is exactly what we thought he’d be. He’s an advanced hitter with good plate discipline. He plays the game the right way and brought a sense of maturity to the team.”
  • LHP Danny Duffy (third-round pick in 2007): “Danny has great upside. He throws strikes and has a good feel for his curveball and changeup. He’s a great competitor and really fared well for a first-year high school player in an advanced A-ball league.”
  • Retro pricing

    Monday marks the start of the Royals’ final homestand at a pre-renovated Kauffman Stadium, and the club is marking the occasion by rolling back prices on all upper-deck seats to the 1973 price of $3 for all four games against the Mariners.

    All general-admission seats for the series will be $5, courtesy of a promotion by The Parking Spot. All ticket prices revert to normal for the season’s final series this weekend against the White Sox.

    Halfway to St. Patrick’s

    The Royals wouldn’t mind borrowing a little luck from the Irish. What better reason to stage a “Halfway to St. Paddy’s Day” celebration at Wednesday’s game against the Seattle Mariners at Kauffman Stadium?

    That’s Sept. 17 — six months from St. Patrick’s Day on March 17.

    Information on special ticket packages can be obtained at royals.com/irish. The packages include a reduced ticket price, drink voucher and a Royals cap with a green KC logo and a shamrock.

    Flannigan’s Right Hook, a local Irish band, will perform.

    Looking back

    It will be 31 years ago Monday — Sept. 15, 1977 — that the Royals set a franchise record by winning their 16th consecutive game. They did it the tough way, too — sweeping a double-header from Oakland and winning both games in extra innings at then-Royals Stadium.

    They won the opener 7-6 on Pete LaCock’s one-out single in the 11th inning against Doug Bair; they won the second game 5-4 on Al Cowens’ leadoff homer in the 10th against Bair.

    The 16-game streak, at the time, was the longest by a big-league team in 24 years.

    Etc.

  • Right-hander Luke Hochevar turns 25 on Monday. Hochevar is concluding the season on the disabled list after suffering a bruised rib cage in his Aug. 19 start at Cleveland. He finished the season at 6-12 with a 5.51 ERA in 22 starts.
  • The Royals have scored at least eight runs in three straight games against the Indians for the first time in history. The teams have played 519 times.
  • The Royals are 8-5 in September after going 7-20 in August.
  • Brian Bannister is 3-1 with a 1.91 ERA in five career starts against the Indians.
  • Second baseman Alberto Callaspo went two for three and is 11 for 32 in an eight-game hitting streak.
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