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Royals notebook: Mounting work load brings end to Greinke’s season

DETROIT | Zack Greinke won’t pitch the season’s final game Sunday in Minnesota after all. Not because of injury but due to mounting concerns regarding his career-high workload.

“We’ve readjusted,” manager Trey Hillman confirmed. “We’re going to go with (Brandon) Duckworth on Sunday.”

Greinke improved to 13-10 by pitching seven scoreless innings Tuesday in a 5-0 victory over Detroit. It was his 23rd quality start in 32 outings and pushed his innings total to 202 1/3.

“He’s already at 80-plus innings over what he had last year,” Hillman said. “That’s a lot. A good measuring tool for a young pitcher is (an increase of) 25 to 50.”

Greinke said he is healthy and could pitch Sunday but didn’t argue the decision.

“It doesn’t matter,” he said, “because everyone right now is pitching well.”

The rotation has 10 quality starts in the last 11 games after Brian Bannister pitched six shutout innings Wednesday against the Tigers.

The decision to rest Greinke isn’t likely to sit well with the White Sox, who are now clinging to a one-half-game lead over Minnesota in the American League Central Division race.

Duckworth is 3-2 with a 5.06 ERA in six starts after spending most of the season at Class AAA Omaha. He replaced injured Luke Hochevar in the rotation in late August.

“He’s been pretty effective since he came up here,” Hillman said. “We’re confident in him starting Sunday.”

The switch means the Royals will use Kyle Davies, Gil Meche and Duckworth in their three games at Minnesota.

Greinke finishes the season with a 3.47 ERA, which is the lowest mark by a Royals pitcher who qualified for the ERA title since Kevin Appier’s 3.40 mark in 1997. Greinke is also currently tied with Cleveland lefty Cliff Lee for the AL lead in quality starts.

“I think he feels pretty good about where he’s at,” Hillman said. “But he also feels tired.”

Hosmer gets clearance

First baseman Eric Hosmer is expected to arrive Thursday in Surprise, Ariz., to begin work in the Instructional League after being cleared to resume his career.

Major League Baseball and the players’ union reached a settlement Wednesday on the union’s grievance regarding Commissioner Bud Selig’s unilateral decision to extend the Aug. 15 negotiating deadline for Pittsburgh’s talks with third baseman Pedro Alvarez.

The grievance ensnared the Royals and Hosmer, the third overall pick, because their deal wasn’t approved by MLB until after it granted an extension to the Pirates and Alvarez.

All sides agreed the Royals and Hosmer reached their agreement prior to the deadline.

“I didn’t ever have any anxiety about it, believe it or not,” general manager Dayton Moore said. “I felt all along it wasn’t going to be an issue, based on the information I had.

“It was just more frustrating for Eric more than anything else. I’m just glad it’s behind us, and I’m just looking forward to him performing in a Royals uniform.”

Hosmer received a $6 million signing bonus and played three games at short-season Idaho Falls before MLB ordered him off the field when the union filed its grievance over the Pirates/Alvarez deal.

The framework for a settlement accelerated Tuesday after the Pirates and Alvarez reached agreement on a new deal. The grievance resolution clarifies administration of how the deadline will be administered in future years.

DeJesus’ streak ends

David DeJesus’ 14-game hitting streak came to an end when he left the game after experiencing tightness in his right hip flexor while striking out in the first inning.

“It just got me,” he said. “It’s sore. We’ll have to see.”

The Royals termed his availability as “day to day” for the three games in Minnesota.

“I’m not sure how bad that’s going to be,” Hillman said. “We’ll get a better read on that in the next couple of days. Hopefully, he can play, but we’re going to Astroturf.”

The strikeout dropped DeJesus’ average to .307.

Callaspo feeling better

Second baseman Alberto Callaspo tested his sore left thigh by taking part in pre-game drills and, barring a setback, should be ready to return Friday to the lineup against the Twins.

Callaspo suffered what the Royals are calling a “tweak” — something less than a strain — while scoring from second base on a single in the fifth inning of Monday’s 6-2 victory over the Tigers.

Shortstop Mike Aviles again switched to second for Wednesday’s series finale. Tony Peña made his second straight start at short.

Callaspo has a 16-game hitting streak that has raised his average to .313. He is batting .337 in 29 games since returning Aug. 23 from a 48-game stay on the disabled list for an unspecified medical condition.

Looking back

It will be 15 years ago Thursday — Sept. 25, 1993 — that George Brett announced his intention to retire at the end of the season. His decision concluded a 21-year career in which he batted .305 with 317 homers and 1,595 RBIs in 2,707 games.

Brett was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1999 when he was named on 98.2 percent of the ballots in his first year of eligibility.

Etc.

  • The Royals finished with an 11-7 edge over the Tigers in the season series. The Royals also have a 21-18 advantage since Detroit won 14 of the first 15 games in 2006.
  • The Royals finished 7-2 at Comerica Park. They also swept the Tigers in three of their six three-game series. The Tigers also had a sweep and won two series by 2-1 margins.
  • The Royals’ bullpen stretched to 20 consecutive retired batters before Kip Wells surrendered a two-out homer in the seventh to Mike Hessman.
  • Tigers reliever Todd Jones, 40, announced his retirement. He concludes a 16-year career with 319 saves. He was 4-1 this season with 18 saves and a 4.91 ERA but has been on the disabled list since Aug. 16 because of a sore shoulder.
  • The Royals, at 16-7, are already guaranteed to post only their second winning September in 20 years. They were 13-11 in 1996. The club’s best September was 25-5 in 1977.
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