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Royals notebook | DeJesus still battling the flu in Kansas City

NEW YORK | A flu-ridden David DeJesus remains in Kansas City as the Royals embark on a season-ending road trip. He has now missed four straight games, and there is no target date for his return.

“He’s still sick, that’s all I can tell you,” manager Trey Hillman said prior to Monday’s series opener against New York at Yankee Stadium. “He’s still running a fever. Beyond that, I don’t know what his travel plans are. I don’t know when I’ll expect to see him.”

Asked if DeJesus is battling the swine flu virus, Hillman said, “Not that I know of.”

DeJesus is batting .281 with 74 runs and 71 RBIs in 144 games. He also has 28 doubles, nine triples and a career-high 13 homers.

“We’re trying to get him healthy back in KC,” Hillman said, “to the point where he can travel.”

The Royals shifted Mitch Maier to the leadoff role Monday after using Willie Bloomquist in the three previous games. Maier had batted second in the nine previous games.

Bloomquist wasn’t in the starting lineup. Hillman moved Yuniesky Betancourt to No. 2 in the lineup. Betancourt was three for three in Sunday’s 4-1 victory over Minnesota and was eight for 18 in his five previous games.

“We’re playing a hot hand,” Hillman said. “Willie’s knees need resting. David is still out sick. I was searching for what I thought would be a good leadoff (hitter) and then you need a No. 2 guy. So we’ll play the hot hand and hope it works out.”

Strong bench

The Yankees sent out a somewhat makeshift lineup Monday one day after clinching the American League East Division crown by sweeping a three-game series from Boston.

No Derek Jeter. No Alex Rodriguez. No Mark Teixeira. No Hideki Matsui. Jorge Posada was the DH.

Rotation plans

Hillman confirmed Zack Greinke will make his final start Saturday in the next-to-last game of the season. The Royals plan to keep all five of their current starters in order over the final five games despite an open date Thursday before a season-ending series at Minnesota.

Anthony Lerew and Robinson Tejeda will start the final two games against the Yankees before Lenny DiNardo, Greinke and Luke Hochevar face the Twins.

Player count

Despite injuries to several key players, the Royals entered the season’s final week having used only 43 players this season. That’s one fewer than last season and the lowest total by the club since it used just 40 in 1996.

This year’s split includes 20 position players and 23 pitchers:

The position players: Josh Anderson, Mike Aviles, Yuniesky Betancourt, Willie Bloomquist, John Buck, Billy Butler, Alberto Callaspo, Coco Crisp, David DeJesus, Ryan Freel Mike Jacobs, Alex Gordon, José Guillen, Luis Hernandez, Mitch Maier, Miguel Olivo, Brayan Peña, Tony Peña, Mark Teahen and Tug Hulett.

The pitchers: John Bale, Brian Bannister, Bruce Chen, Roman Colon, Juan Cruz, Kyle Davies, Lenny DiNardo, Kyle Farnsworth, Zack Greinke, Luke Hochevar, Dusty Hughes, Anthony Lerew, Ron Mahay, Victor Marte, Gil Meche, Sidney Ponson, Horacio Ramirez, Carlos Rosa, Joakim Soria, Robinson Tejeda, Doug Waechter, Jamey Wright and Yasuhiko Yabuta.

Attendance count

The Royals, aided by a renovated Kauffman Stadium, finished with their best home attendance -- 1,797,887 -- since drawing 1,934,578 in 1993. It should be noted that 1993 was the last full season before the strike and generally marked the end of the Royals’ time as a serious postseason contender.

But the Royals are headed for a steep decline this season in road attendance after helping to draw 2,430,020 last season in 81 games. They entered Monday’s game at New York with a road attendance of 1,974,634.

Minor details

Catcher Wil Myers spent just 18 games at short-season Idaho Falls, but he still did enough to be selected by Baseball America as the top prospect in the Pioneer League.

Myers, 18, was the Royals’ third-round pick in the June draft but didn’t sign until just prior to the Aug. 17 deadline. He then spent four games at Rookie Burlington before shifting to Idaho Falls, where he batted .426 with four homers and 14 RBIs.

Baseball America’s assessment: “Myers' strong, projectable frame and leverage should lead to well above-average power down the line. His athleticism and smooth, repeatable swing suggest he'll also hit for average.”

Lefty John Lamb, 19, was picked as the Pioneer League’s No. 17 prospect after being earlier cited as the No. 7 prospect in the Rookie Appalachian League. He was a combined 5-3 with a 3.80 ERA in 14 starts.

Looking back

It was 32 years ago Tuesday _ Sept. 29, 1977 _ that the Royals reached 100 victories for the only time in their 41-year history with a 6-3 victory over California at then-Royals Stadium. The 1977 club finished with 102 victories.

Point of comparison: The Yankees just reached 100 victories for the eighth time since 1977.

To reach Bob Dutton, call 816-234-4789 or send e-mail to bdutton@kcstar.com. Follow his updates at twitter.com/Royals_Report.

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