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Royals camp update: Hillman not worried by Yabuta's early struggles

SURPRISE, Ariz. _ Reliever Yasuhiko Yabuta is off to a tough spring after getting roughed up again in Saturday’s 15-7 loss to the Rangers. He has now allowed three runs, four hits and three walks in his two one-inning appearances.

“It’s not anything that’s alarming to me,” manager Trey Hillman said. “It’s not anything that’s not normal when he’s been throwing a different type of baseball his whole life.”

Yabuta worked out all winter with the slightly larger American ball after signing a two-year deal for a guaranteed $6 million. He is scheduled to pitch again Monday against the White Sox.

Shealy returns

First baseman Ryan Shealy, still weak, returned Sunday morning to the clubhouse after missing the last three days because of a flu that continues to circulate through the roster. Shealy had a particularly nasty case. “That thing is no fun,” he said, “I’ll tell you that. (Justin) Huber called me because he has it now. He asked what he should do, and I said, `Pray and drink water. A lot.”

Olivo in the outfield

Hillman said it is no sure thing that catcher Miguel Olivo will see time in the left field despite taking part Saturday in outfield drills. “I don’t want to confuse anyone,” Hillman said. “This is a backup, backup, backup option. A possible double switch in an interleague game.”

Maroth improving

Left-hander Mike Maroth is scheduled to test his sore shoulder Monday by throwing a bullpen workout. If all goes well, he should be able to reclaim his spot as a rotation candidate on his next scheduled turn.

“I really let it go last Wednesday,” he said, “and I felt it the next day. We just backed off.” Maroth is tentatively scheduled to piggy-back starter Zack Greinke in Thursday’s game against the Diamondbacks at Surprise Stadium.

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

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