Notes: Grudzielanek has surgery
Bell says second baseman should return in about a month
KANSAS CITY -- Mark Grudzielanek underwent successful surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee on Friday and should return to the roster in a month, manager Buddy Bell said before the weekend opener against the Marlins at Kauffman Stadium.
"There wasn't any bone fragments," Bell said. "It was cartilage, so that was good news as well. It wasn't anything that he didn't expect. It's an ordinary cartilage surgery, so that was good."
Grudzielanek had surgery on the same knee in Spring Training. He recovered in three weeks -- much faster than many expected -- and started on Opening Day. Bell didn't know if the quick recovery may have caused the most recent injury, an injury that occurred when running the bases on Tuesday night.
"I just know that he didn't have any problems with it up until the other night," Bell said. "Everything that Grud went through in Spring Training and in the first part of the year was fine."
Esteban German will be the primary replacement at second. German, who is batting .265 this season, is a utilityman, seeing starts at four positions this season.
"Ideally, Este, for our club anyway, is more valuable when he is playing different positions," he said. "In this case, it makes us put Este at second base, and he has an opportunity to play everyday. I don't doubt that he will do a good job."
Rotation changes? Odalis Perez and Scott Elarton have both put recent strain on the bullpen. The two pitchers throw on back-to-back days, and, on Wednesday and Thursday, combined to throw just five innings and allow 12 earned runs.
Perez hasn't tossed a quality start in his last four outings and Elarton hasn't worked a quality start since returning from the disabled list on May 12.
Bell thought about changing the rotation, but said Jorge De La Rosa's recent struggles -- one quality start since May 18 -- and no off-day until next Thursday have limited any changes.
"Jorge has had a hard time as well, so it's not just been two guys," Bell said. "It's been more. With the day off coming Thursday, then we might be able to do something with it, but right now we can't do anything with it."
Elarton, who has an 8.54 ERA and hasn't lasted six innings in any of his starts this season, will make his next start on Tuesday against the Cardinals. The right-hander, who had shoulder surgery last August, lasted just two-plus innings Thursday.
"This guy had a pretty extensive surgery and we are just going to give him some more time," Bell said. He knows what he needs to do and we know what he needs to do and we are going to give him some time to do it."
Zack Greinke, who threw four innings and earned the win in relief of Elarton on Thursday, is not considered an option for the rotation.
"Right now, Zack is doing what we need him to do," Bell said. "He is competing, he is enjoying himself. That's a tough call, really. I think at some point we are going to end up putting him back in the rotation, but we are in no hurry to do that."
Bale, Duckworth updates: Left-hander John Bale saw his rehab stint end because of a muscle strain in his right glute.
"I was long tossing for [Triple-A] Omaha and it was kind of a freak thing," he said. "I felt a strain. I have long tossed a million times in my career and this time I landed wrong. Something happened. I am able to play catch and long toss, just not pitch off the mound.
Bale cannot throw for a week to 10 days. He was rehabbing from a left-shoulder strain but said his arm is fine.
"That's a good thing," he said. "I don't have to shut down throwing completely. Seven days from now I can get right back to a couple bullpens and then get back to games."
Bale, who pitched in four games without allowing a run for Omaha, was almost able to come back.
"If it's not one thing, it's another, it seems like," he said. "I just have to keep battling with it."
Bale said he would like to return for the June 29-July 4 homestand, the final two series before the All-Star break.
"That's what I am shooting for," he said.
Brandon Duckworth, on the D.L. with a left ribcage strain, has a similar injury to Octavio Dotel.
"Everyone heals a little bit differently," Bell said. "We don't know the timetable yet on when Duckworth can return."
Gordon hitting well: Alex Gordon has been on of the team's hottest hitters recently, hitting .429 in his last 28 at-bats with two homers and eight RBIs. Gordon entered Friday with a .204 batting average, the first time in his career he bumped his batting average over the .200 mark.
"Alex really has a desire to play the game and a desire to play it well," Bell said. "He competes as hard as anybody does out here and that's probably the biggest reason he is still here."
High-octane offense: Helped by an offense that has reached double figures twice in the past two series, the Royals are 6-3 in Interleague Play this season. They have scored and average of eight runs per game in Interleague Play versus just 3.71 against AL teams.
"I think the key is just cashing in on opportunities," Ryan Shealy said. "When we go through our offensive ruts, then we don't cash in on opportunities. ... Moving runners and doing the small things, as well as hitting home runs and stuff, we have done a good job of that. If we do that and cash in on those opportunities, we are going to be successful."
O'Neil seat: Bob Kendrick from Kansas City, Mo., sat in Buck's seat on Friday night. Kendrick, one of O'Neil's closest friends and his right-hand man for many years, is the director of marketing at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
Royals Rundown: Triple-A Omaha won, 3-1, over Iowa. Billy Buckner held the Cubs to one run on 11 hits in seven innings and Craig Brazell had three doubles and a RBI. ...Double-A Wichita lost, 11-2, to Springfield. Luke Hochevar, the team's No. 1 pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, allowed seven runs (five earned) in 4 2/3 innings. He is 3-6 with a 5.05 ERA with a 78/19 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 78 innings. ... Class A Wilmington had the day off. ... Class A Burlington won, 8-6, over Peoria. Derrick Robinson had two hits, two RBIs, two runs and a stolen base. Harold Mozingo moved to 6-5 with six innings of six-run ball.
Player of the day: Buckner. He had his best outing of the year, striking out six and walking none. The right-hander is 5-2 with a 4.76 ERA in 15 games and four starts this season. He was KC's second-round pick in 2004.
Coming up: De La Rosa (4-6, 4.73) will face Rick Vanden Hurk (1-2, 8.61) in the second game of the series at Kauffman Stadium. First pitch is set for 6:10 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.