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Notes: Greinke may start Saturday
05/18/2004  8:57 PM ET
ARLINGTON -- Could Zack Greinke, the Royals' 20-year-old wunderkind, make his Major League debut on Saturday at Oakland?

"It's a possibility," Royals general manager Muzzy Jackson said Tuesday.

Greinke, who was the Royals' first pick and the sixth overall selection in 2002 draft, helped his cause for a promotion with a brilliant outing Monday for Omaha, their Triple-A farm club. In a 2-1 victory over Fresno, Greinke allowed one run on six hits, walked none and struck out seven in six innings to pick up the victory and lower his earned run average to 2.51.

"He threw the ball well," Jackson said. "His stuff was good. His velocity was good. He threw up to 93 (miles per hour) and basically pitched at 88-89 (mph). His change up was good. He continues to get better. We've got to evaluate the situation and talk to the minor league staff and make a decision, hopefully in the next couple of days whether we're going to bring him here or not. Again, that depends on the evaluation. We have not determined that yet."

The Royals will need a No. 5 starter on Saturday for the first time since May 11 because of off days. Left-hander Dennys Reyes has been filling in as the fifth starter.

Royals manager Tony Pena said Reyes is penciled in to start on Saturday. "Unless we change our minds. We could. Who knows? You know me, I am not afraid."

It is just a matter time before Greinke cracks the rotation, which has logged only three victories in the first 35 games.

"Every time he goes out, he is pitching better and better and better," Pena said. "I would love to say he's close. I don't know. I need to discuss that with Allard (Baird, general manager) and Muzzy to see where we're at."

Jackson said the ultimate decision will be Baird's.

If Greinke does start Saturday, he would likely be opposed by A's left-hander Barry Zito, the 2002 Cy Young award winner.

Relaford hurt: Royals second baseman Desi Relaford pulled up lame after a sixth inning single and was replaced by Mendy Lopez.

Relaford's injury was diagnosed as a strained left hamstring tendon. Relaford pulled the same hamstring on his first at-bat of the season on April 5.

Juan Gone Returns: Juan Gonzalez, a 14-year veteran who had his best seasons while spending the majority of his career with the Rangers, returned on Tuesday to Texas for the first time in a Royals' uniform.

"I came here for one purpose -- to play baseball," Gonzalez said before the game. "The only thing different is the dugout. It is still the same."

Gonzalez, who was the 1996 and 1998 American League Most Valuable Player while with Texas, said he is not surprised by the Rangers' good start.

"The Rangers are playing great baseball," he said. "Everything is together, (they are) a young team."

Gonzalez is hitting .270 with four home runs and 14 RBIs, while striking out 18 times in 115 at-bats.

"I'm starting slow, but that is part of baseball," he said. "It is a long season. There are a lot of games and a lot of at-bats remaining."

Gonzalez normally warms up as the weather heats up. He is a career .303 hitter with 83 home runs in July and .305 with 79 home runs in August. He has 86 home runs and 280 RBIs in June, the most he has in any month.

Graffanino Hits: Tony Graffanino took batting practice and fielded ground balls on Tuesday for the first time since going on the disabled list on April 26 with a meniscus tear in his left knee.

"It feels great," Graffanino said. "Hitting never bothered me. It was bending (the knee). I'm getting anxious especially because it feels good, but as Nick (Swartz, Royals trainer) keeps reminding me, you can't do too much too quick, otherwise you will irritate the area. I'm following his program and taking it day-by-day."

The program is for Graffanino to intensify his on-the-field activities the next few days and if he has no setbacks will report to the Royals' spring training complex early next week in Surprise, Ariz. and then play a couple of rehab games with Omaha.

"If I'm not mistaken, I'm on schedule to meet the team (May 31) in Detroit as long as everything goes according to plan, which it has so far," he said.

Guiel Update: Aaron Guiel, who was placed on the disabled list Sunday with blurred vision in his left eye, is scheduled to see an optometrist specialist for an exam on Wednesday in Kansas City.

"I'm not worried," Guiel said. "I'm excited about it. I'm not apprehensive about it."

Minor points: Right-hander Colt Griffin, the Royals' 2001 first-round draft pick, dropped to 1-4 with an 8.73 ERA with Class A Wilmington. In a 4-3 loss Monday to Kinston, Griffin allowed three runs on four hits, four walks and a wild pitch in 1 2/3 innings. ... Chris Lubanski, the Royals' first pick in the 2003 draft, is hitting .223 with Burlington in the Midwest League. Mitch Maier, who was also a first-round pick last June, is hitting .303 with Burlington. ... Dee Brown, a 1996 first-round selection, has a .315 average with Class AA Wichita.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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