Notes: Club undecided on Dotel's role
Reliever could share closing duties with Soria early on
DENVER -- The Royals will not make a decision on Octavio Dotel's role until they talk to the right-hander on Monday. Dotel, on the disabled list all season with a left oblique strain, made his third and final rehab appearance on Saturday, closing out Double-A Wichita's victory.
"We have kind of gone back and forth on how we are going to use him, and we'll talk to him tomorrow and see how he feels and then kind of go from there," manager Buddy Bell said. "We are going to have him be a part of this process, face-to-face."
General manager Dayton Moore said on Saturday that Dotel is viewed as the team's long-term closer, but Kansas City would like to ease Dotel back into the role. Rookie Joakim Soria has pitched well as the team's interim closer, compiling nine saves in 11 opportunities and posting a 3.54 ERA.
"If we had to make a decision right now, it would kind of be Soria and Dotel together, but we are trying to get as much continuity as we can, and having two is not the ideal way, but that's something that we might have to do," Bell said.
DeJesus struggling: After a hot start that saw him rank among the American League leaders in several offensive categories, leadoff hitter David DeJesus has seen his average drop from .358 on April 20 to .273 entering Sunday's game. He has hit safely in his last four games and seven of his last eight, but has collected only one multihit contest in that span.
"Mechanically, I can't see anything different," Bell said. "Mentally, he probably looks like he is one pitch behind. He starts guessing and starts guessing wrong, and then it becomes worse. David has a good, solid approach and he just needs to stay with it. He is going through a little bit of a tough time right now. It's a typical offensive slump where you take your good pitches and swing at bad ones."
DeJesus has hit first in 41 of the team's first 43 games, including Sunday's contest. Esteban German (two leadoff starts) is the most likely candidate to bat first, but Bell said he doesn't need to switch the batting order.
"I thought about changing the lineup, but I just don't see him that [messed] up, to be honest," the manager said.
Gordon hitting well: It didn't show in Saturday's final line score (1-for-4), but Alex Gordon crushed two line drives -- right at Rockies' infielders. Todd Helton made a nice grab on sixth inning shot and Gordon lined sharply to second baseman Omar Quintanilla in the eighth.
The game continued a better stretch for Gordon. While his average still rests at .169, he has hit safely in three straight games, tying a season high. Bell said Gordon has "swung the bat better on this road trip than he has all season.
"He is making some progress and that's all we really need to see," Bell said. "He has hit the ball well to have at least two hits in three or four games."
Bale throws bullpen session: Left-hander John Bale, on the 60-day disabled list with left shoulder tightness, threw a bullpen session before Sunday's game. Bale, who nearly joined the team a few weeks ago before suffering another setback, hasn't pitched this season.
Because he was first placed on the D.L. on April 1, Bale is eligible to come back in June.
Bunts: Because of the off-day on Monday, Bell gave veterans Mark Grudzielanek and Mike Sweeney Sunday off. ... David Riske hasn't allowed a run in nine May appearances. ... Kansas City sits at 16 wins in 44 games this season. Last year, the Royals didn't win their 16th game until their 59th contest. ...As a team, Kansas City ranks second to last in the American League in defensive efficiency -- the percentage of batted balls turned into outs -- at 69.46 percent, but is among the league leaders in putouts (462) and is tied for the Major League lead in double plays (50). Bell said he has been pleased with his defense, especially rookie Tony Pena and Mark Teahen, who is playing right field for the first time in his career. "I think, for the most part, yes, I think some of our younger guys have defensive letdowns at times, but they have been good," Bell said. "I think Tony has been outstanding and Teahen continues to get better ....Considering he has never played out there before, he has played pretty ... good at times."
Royals Rundown: Triple-A Omaha lost, 9-8, to New Orleans. Joey Gathright reached base five times in six plate appearances and Billy Butler hit his eighth homer of the season. Butler is 4-for-10 with two homers and six walks since he was sent back to Triple-A. ... Double-A Wichita won, 11-5, over Arkansas. Carlos Rosa earned the victory, tossing five innings of two-run ball. Jace Brewer collected three hits and scored two runs. ... Class A Wilmington lost, 10-8, to Myrtle Beach. Blake Johnson permitted eight runs (seven earned) in 1 2/3 innings. ... Class A Burlington fell, 8-3, to South Bend. Harold Mozingo allowed six runs in 4 2/3 innings and Tyler Chambliss allowed a run, raising his ERA to 1.00.
Player of the day: Gathright. He had three hits, three stolen bases and two walks on Sunday. Gathright has a .437 on-base percentage and 25 walks against just 15 strikeouts for Triple-A Omaha. A three-year Major League veteran, Gathright only has 54 walks in 638 Major League at-bats.
Coming Up: After an off-day on Monday, the Royals head home for a three-series, nine-game run at Kauffman Stadium. Odalis Perez (2-4, 5.29 ERA), one of KC's best pitchers in recent weeks, will face one of the Indians' young starters in Fausto Carmona (5-1, 2.55 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. CT.
Conor Nicholl is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.