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Royals notebook: No target date yet for Soria to resume throwing

OAKLAND, Calif. | Here was a sobering sight for the Royals before Tuesday’s series opener against the A’s at the Oakland Coliseum:

All-Star closer Joakim Soria ran about the outfield, shagging balls, in batting practice. But he then stopped each time, removed his glove in order to make weak return throws with his left hand.

There is no target date at this point for Soria to test his strained right rotator cuff by throwing.

“Not until the inflammation goes down,” manager Trey Hillman said. “We’re looking at some different exercises for his shoulder, but nothing more than that.”

The Royals placed Soria on the 15-day disabled list after Sunday’s 4-3 loss at Los Angeles. The move is retroactive to last Friday, which makes him eligible to return May 23 when the Royals play the second of three games in St. Louis.

Soria continues to express confidence he’ll be ready at the end of 15 days.

Waechter suffers setback

Don’t look for veteran right-hander Doug Waechter to be returning any time soon to the Royals’ bullpen.

Waechter’s rehab assignment for a strained right elbow ended after one scoreless appearance at Class AAA Omaha after reporting a pain in his left side that was subsequently diagnosed as a strained oblique.

Even the mildest oblique strains usually sideline a player for two-to-four weeks. More typically, a player needs four-to-six weeks to recover.

“It didn’t happen when he was pitching,” Hillman said. “It was a few days later when he was playing catch. He’s back in Kansas City _ on rehab from his rehab.”

Waechter, 28, opened the season with two scoreless appearances before elbow problems surfaced April 17 at Texas. He went to the disabled list on April 21 and started his rehab assignment May 4 against Memphis.

The Royals signed Waechter, a five-year veteran, as a free agent in December to bolster their bullpen. He was 4-2 with a 3.69 ERA last season in 48 appearances for Florida.

but Bale improving

Left-hander John Bale continues to make steady progress on his rehab assignment in his recovery from March 3 surgery to remove a hyperactive thyroid.

Bale worked a three-up, three-down inning Tuesday in Class AA Northwest Arkansas’ 8-5 victory at Tulsa. That followed a scoreless inning Sunday at Tulsa.

“His velocity is improving,” Hillman said. “The plan now is to give him a couple of days off and then go back-to-back days.”

The Royals have no target date for Bale’s return, although he seems unlikely to be actively before the end of the month.

Waiting his turn

Luke Hochevar insists he wasn’t disappointed when the Royals bypassed him last month to recall Brian Bannister, whose minor-league numbers weren’t as good, to fill a hole in their rotation.

“There was no remorse about that at all,” said Hochevar, who started Tuesday night against the A’s. “Banny had proven himself at the big-league level. Everybody knows he can pitch up there.

“He was pitching well in Triple-A, and I was happy to see him go up. Then I was extremely happy to see him pitch well.”

Bannister was 0-1 with a 3.46 ERA in three starts at Omaha when summoned for an April 22 start in Cleveland. Hochevar was 3-0 at the time with a 1.89 ERA through three starts.

“I was not disappointed at all about that,” said Hochevar, who exited Omaha at 5-0 with a 0.90 ERA in six starts. “Everybody’s path is different. You can’t get caught up in that. Banny is one of my good friends. So I was extremely happy to see him go up.”

Bannister validated the club’s decision by going 3-0 with a 1.48 ERA in his first four starts. He pitches tonight in the series finale against Oakland lefty Josh Outman, 0-0 and 4.79, at 9:07 p.m. Central time.

Nearing a sellout

Here’s the latest evidence of Greinke-mania: Club officials announced Friday’s game against the Baltimore Orioles _ Zack Greinke’s next start _ is approaching a sellout.

“Yeah,” he noted. “Fireworks.”

True enough. Friday will offer post-game fireworks, weather permitting, It is also a Buck Night. The game starts at 7:10 p.m.

Baltimore lists Adam Eaton as its starting pitcher.

Only a small number of single tickets remain in addition to standing-room only tickets. The Royals are suggesting fans arrive early to avoid long lines. Gates to the Outfield Experience will open at 4:10 p.m., just prior to the start of Royals’ batting practice.

Club officials also anticipate the only seats to be available Friday will be the 400 Dri Duck fountain seats. Those seats will go on sale at 4 p.m. Friday at Gate E.

Among the worst?

Royals owner David Glass takes a bashing in SI.com’s just-released ranking of the best and worst owners in sports. The web site for Sports Illustrated cites Glass as the third-worst owner in baseball.

The magazine contends it based its ranking on five criteria: success or failure on the field; willingness to spend money to improve the team; stability and capabilities of the front office and management; amenities at the team’s venue, and the club’s culture and interactivity with fans.

That makes Glass’ ranking, if viewed from a current perspective, seem a bit harsh. The Royals improved their record in each of the last three seasons, currently have the highest payroll in their history, are off to their best start in six years and have a pricing structure that ranks among the bottom third of all clubs.

Baltimore’s Peter Angelos is ranked as the worst owner, followed by Texas’ Tom Hicks. The magazine cites the Boston triumvirate of John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino as the game’s best ownership, followed by the Angels’ Arte Moreno.

Looking back

It was 30 years ago Wednesday _ May 13, 1979 _ that the Royals established what still stands as a club record by getting 12 extra-base hits in a 14-5 victory at Chicago.

They had nine doubles (Hal McRae 2, Jerry Terrell 2, Todd Cruz, Clint Hurdle, Amos Otis, U.L. Washington and Willie Wilson), one triple (U.L. Washington) and two homers (John Wathan and Willie Wilson). George Brett went two for five but both hits were singles.

To reach Bob Dutton, send e-mail to bdutton@kcstar.com.

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