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Royals notebook | Greinke says he’s ready

CHICAGO | Zack Greinke is typically blunt in assessing his less-than-stellar spring work as he prepares for his first start Wednesday when the Royals continue their three-game series against the White Sox.

“I don’t think it could have gone any worse for the most part,” said Greinke, who allowed 29 earned runs and 47 hits in 28 1/3 spring innings.

“All of my good buddies are gone, and I struggled. So looking at it like that, spring (stunk).”

Even so, Greinke contends he is ready for his 7:11 p.m. assignment against Chicago right-hander Gavin Floyd at U.S. Cellular Field.

“My last game,” Greinke said, “I pitched really well (at times). My changeup is better than it’s been before. I feel real comfortable with my fastball now. So, really, I couldn’t be much happier than where I am right now. “I fell like I’m right where I want to be.”

Usually, Greinke is happier anywhere other than here; he is 0-6 with a 7.78 ERA in eight career games, including six starts, at the Cell.

“I think he’s in good shape,” manager Trey Hillman said. “I really do. I’m confident that he’s where he needs to be, although the overall numbers weren’t as great as we’d like to see.

“I’m confident that once the bell rings, he’s ready to go. His pitches are developed enough to where he’s going to be able to go out and be very effective.”

No second-guess here

Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen refused to be drawn by questions regarding Hillman’s decision to stick with reliever Kyle Farnsworth once the White Sox began stirring in the eighth inning.

“I’m not the manager of the Kansas City Royals,” Guillen said. “Everybody has their way to do it. It’s not fair for me to judge anybody else.”

Farnsworth has a history of struggles against the White Sox: 33 earned runs in 27 2/3 innings in 28 career appearances after yielding a three-run homer to Jim Thome.

“But Farnsworth is a top-quality reliever,” Thome insisted. “You’ve got to be ready to go. He’s got a good slider and a plus fastball. He throws 98 (mph). So you’ve got to get ready to hit.”

DeJesus’ two assists

Gil Meche’s stellar seven innings weren’t the only positive achievement overwhelmed Thome’s three-run tattoo against Farnsworth.

David DeJesus became the first outfielder in franchise history to record two assists in a season opener.

DeJesus enabled Meche to limit damage to one run in the second inning when he threw out Jermaine Dye at the plate. DeJesus then helped Meche protect a one-run lead in the seventh inning by foiling A.J. Pierzynski’s bid for a double on a grounder past third.

“The first one,” DeJesus said, “it was a case that it was two outs, and they were going to send him. I wanted to come up (after fielding the ball) and put a good throw there. It ended up working out.

“The second one, Pierzynski hit it pretty good. I knew if I got to it quickly, I’d have a chance. I just turned and threw it. I was able to get him.”

DeJesus had 30 assists in his six previous seasons, including a career-high 12 in 2006. He has just three last season.

Fields day

Josh Fields not only started Chicago’s winning rally with a perfect bunt single against Farnsworth in the eighth. Fields also produced a fielding gem at third base that help limit the Royals to one run in the fifth after they loaded the bases with no outs.

It was 1-1 when Mark Teahen opened the fifth with a double into the left-center gap against White Sox starter Mark Buehrle. Teahen went to third on José Guillen’s single to left before Buehrle hit Mike Jacobs.

Billy Butler followed with a chopper tight to the third-base line. Fields made a backhand stop and, as his momentum carried him into foul ground, pegged a perfect throw to the plate for a force out.

The Royals did get a run, and the lead, when Alex Gordon hit a fielder’s-choice grounder to second, but Buehrle avoided further damage by striking out Miguel Olivo.

Opening numbers

The Royals are now 15-26 in their history in season openers. That includes 5-15 when opening the season on the road. They are 3-3 in openers against the White Sox.

Four in four

Teahen is just the 15th player in 53 years, according to research by Stats, LLC., to start season openers in four successive years at four different positions. He was at third base in 2006, right field in 2007, left field in 2008 and second base on Tuesday.

The list shrinks to seven players if starts at designated hitter aren’t included.

Looking ahead

Here are the projected pitching match-ups for this weekend’s series against the New York Yankees at renovated Kauffman Stadium:

Friday: RHP Sidney Ponson vs. New York LHP Andy Pettitte at 3:05 p.m.

Saturday: LHP Horacio Ramirez vs. New York LHP CC Sabathia at 6:10 p.m.

Sunday: Meche vs. New York RHP Joba Chamberlain at 1:10 p.m.

Take two (part four)

This was the fourth time in the Royals’ 41-year history that their season opener was delayed by weather. And each time, the score of the delayed opener was 4-2.

They had successive postponements in 1996 and 1997 in Baltimore. Their only delay in a season opener at home was in 1984 against New York. The Royals lost the two delayed openers in Baltimore but beat the Yankees.

Foreign talent

The Royals opened the season with eight foreign-born players on their 25-man roster, which puts them slightly above the Major League average of 28 percent.

The MLB figures include players on the 15-day disabled list. The Royals have one player, pitcher John Bale, on the DL, so their percentage works out to 30.8.

The breakdown:

Dominican Republic (5): RHP Juan Cruz, OF José Guillen, C Miguel Olivo, SS Tony Peña and RHP Robinson Tejeda.

Cuba (1): C Brayan Peña.

Mexico (1): RHP Joakim Soria.

Venezuela (1): 2B Alberto Callaspo.

Looking back

It was 40 years ago Wednesday _ April 8, 1969 _ that the Royals played their first game in franchise history. Joe Keough’s one-out single with the bases loaded in the 12th inning produced a 4-3 victory over Minnesota at Municipal Stadium.

A crowd of 17,688 attended.

Lou Piniella began what was to become a Rookie-of-the-Year season by going four for five as the leadoff hitter and center fielder. Piniella’s future Yankees teammate, Graig Nettles, started at third base for the Twins and hit the game’s only homer.

The umpire at third base was Don Denkinger.

Etc.

Meche is the Royals’ first pitcher to make three straight starts on Opening Day since Jeff Suppan from 2000-02. Meche has allowed five earned runs in 20 1/3 innings in his three starts.

Gordon homered in his first at-bat and drove in both of the Royals’ run. He also had a homer and two RBIs in last year’s opener, a 5-4 victory at Detroit in 11 innings.

Buehrle made his seventh start on Opening Day, which matches the White Sox’s record of Billy Pierce.

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

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