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Royals notebook: Guillen sidelined by pain in the neck

Three hits Wednesday could have signaled a resurgence for slump-ridden outfielder José Guillen. Instead, his season took another disappointing turn because of a pain in the neck.

Guillen wasn’t in the starting lineup Thursday when the Royals opened a four-game series against the Baltimore Orioles because of a sore neck -- what manager Trey Hillman termed an electric shock; and what is commonly referred to as a stinger.

It’s unclear when Guillen specifically suffered the injury other than being at some point in Wednesday’s game.

Infielder Alberto Callaspo played left field in place of Guillen, who left Wednesday’s 9-4 victory over the Angels after the fifth inning. Guillen underwent treatment Thursday in hopes of being available for pinch-hitting duties.

“I’m hoping we have that available if we need it,” Hillman said. “But because it’s musculature, you don’t want to go backward with it. If it doesn’t seem like there is elasticity of the muscle, if it’s not loose enough, I probably won’t chance it.”

Guillen didn’t play Tuesday after a one-for-22 skid dropped his average to .165. He worked instead with hitting coach Mike Barnett on adjustments to his swing. The result Wednesday was two doubles and a single in three at-bats before leaving the game.

“A little of it had to do with his setup and how he was getting into a launch position,” Hillman said. “That got rectified (Wednesday) night and, unfortunately, he came out of the game because of an electric shock.”

Callaspo in left

Callaspo spent 20 extra minutes getting individual outfield instruction before batting practice. He played the final four innings Wednesday in left field but wasn’t involved in any defensive plays beyond throwing one single back to the infield.

“He moves really easily for a guy who is a below-average runner,” Hillman said. “He gets real good reads and jumps on the ball.”

Callaspo had played only shortstop and second base this season before Wednesday, but he spent 10 games in the outfield last year for Arizona, including seven starts in right field. He handled 15 outfield chances without incident and even had one assist.

Tellingly, perhaps, Hillman opted for Callaspo rather than put Joey Gathright in center and shift David DeJesus from center to left. Callaspo carried a club-leading .341 average into the game with 14 hits in 41 at-bats. He also had six walks for a .426 on-base percentage.

“Getting his bat in the lineup,” Hillman said, “will, hopefully, energize what we want to do offensively.”

Idol watching

Want to do your own American Idol judging without having Simon, Paula, Randy and Ryan as a filter? Friday is your chance.

David Cook of Blue Springs will complete a full day of activities in the Kansas City area by throwing out the ceremonial first pitch and singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh-inning stretch of Friday’s game against the Orioles at Kauffman Stadium.

Cook, 25, is one this year’s three remaining Idol finalists. He once worked in the Stadium Club at the K.

Orioles make move

Freddie Bynum started at shortstop for Baltimore after being activated from the disabled list. The Orioles cleared roster space by optioning infielder Eider Torres to Class AAA Norfolk.

Bynum, 25, underwent arthroscopic surgery in March to repair torn cartilage in his right knee. He was seven for 20 in a six-game rehab assignment at Class AA Bowie.

Minor details

Lefty Rowdy Hardy continues to struggle at Class AA Northwest Arkansas. His ERA jumped to 6.16 after he gave up seven runs and 10 hits in 6 1/3 innings Wednesday in an 8-1 loss to Springfield.

“He’s got to pitch (inside),” Naturals manager Brian Poldberg told the Morning News of Northwest Arkansas. “And when he doesn't pitch in, they start leaning over the plate. There are some things he has to do, and when he does them, he does well.”

Hardy is 0-3 after being picked last season as the organization’s minor-league pitcher of the year. He was 15-5 last season with a 2.48 ERA in 26 games at Class A Wilmington.

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

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