Notes: Teahen searching for power
Royals hoping for more pop from their No. 3 hitter
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals rank second to last in the American League in homers (68), and last in slugging percentage (.394), entering Saturday's game against the Rangers at Kauffman Stadium.
One of the major reasons is Mark Teahen.
Teahen, who hit 18 homers and slugged .517 last season, has just five homers and a .402 slugging percentage this year. Teahen hasn't homered since May 29 and has just six extra-base hits this month.
"I talked to him yesterday," manager Buddy Bell said. "I think that Mark has the type of stroke where there might be a year where he hits 25 [homers], and there might be a year where he hits 10 just because he has more of a line drive stroke. The more he worries about it, the less effective he is going to be."
Teahen's average (.283) and on-base percentage (.356) are very similar to his numbers that warranted the club's Player of the Year Award last season, but his lack of pop hasn't provided the team a lot of power from the No. 3 spot.
The Royals are last in the AL in homers from that lineup position and rank 10th in slugging percentage and OPS. On this homestand, Teahen is 2-for-15 with a double and has just five extra-base hits in the second half.
"He is a pretty doggone good hitter, and when he starts doing things that he isn't capable of, then that is when he gets into trouble," Bell said. "He gets himself in trouble by overswinging and driving the ball. He has a good enough stroke and he just has to have confidence in it."
Duckworth update: Brandon Duckworth, placed on the disabled list June 14 with a left ribcage strain, threw 35 pitches and used his full arsenal for the first time on Saturday afternoon. Duckworth didn't feel any pain and said his next step would be throwing batting practice or throwing in a simulated game-type setting.
"Everything felt good," he said. "Everything is still in line. No setbacks, no nothing, so I am pleased. The biggest thing that we were looking for is did I have any certain feelings throwing [the curveball] and pulling and stuff like that, and [there was] nothing."
Bell said Duckworth will likely start a rehab assignment within a week.
Nunez pitching Sunday: Leo Nunez will make his second Major League start this season on Sunday afternoon against the Rangers. Nunez, who tossed 74 pitches and four innings of one-run ball against the Red Sox on July 17, will likely throw between 85-90 pitches.
Bell said Nunez will remain in the rotation past Sunday.
Busby honored: Saturday marked Steve Busby Bubblehead Day at Kauffman Stadium. Busby, one of the Royals' best pitchers in the 1970s, tossed two no-hitters and won 56 games in a three-year period. Injuries short-circuited his career, but Bell said, when healthy, Busby was the best right-handed pitcher in baseball.
"He had great stuff, had a great understanding of how to pitch and had great baseball instincts," Bell said. "It was unfortunate that we couldn't see Steve Busby as long as we did."
Matthews, Lefebvre not with team: Denny Matthews, the voice of the Royals for the last 39 years, will receive the Ford C. Frick Award and will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday afternoon.
Ryan Lefebvre, Matthews' radio partner, is also in Cooperstown and will see his streak of 1,247 consecutive regular season games end. Believed as the longest streak in Royals' history, Lefebvre last missed a game on Sept. 19, 1999 to watch the University of Minnesota beat Illinois State, 55-7.
O'Neil seat: Johnnie Matz is sitting in Buck's seat for Saturday's game. Matz had donated more than 63 gallons of blood -- the most donated by one person in the Kansas City area. He is also a constant volunteer for Special Olympics and received the Hammond Lifetime Achievement Award from his employer for 42 years, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad.
Royals' rundown: Triple-A Omaha lost, 13-7, to Salt Lake on Friday. Matt Wright allowed five runs on seven hits over four innings. Mike Aviles had an RBI triple and a solo homer and scored three runs. Five players, including Joey Gathright, Shane Costa and Chris Lubanski, had two hits each. ... Double-A Springfield won, 9-8, over Wichita. Mike Stodolka, a former first-round pick, had three hits, two RBIs and a run scored. ... Class A Wilmington was rained out. ... Class A Burlington lost, 6-5, to Quad Cities. Jeff Bianchi and Jamar Walton each finished with two hits.
Advanced Rookie Idaho Falls won, 3-2, over Orem. Matt Jensen threw two shutout innings for the win. ... Rookie League Burlington enjoyed a 5-for-5 night from Patrick Norris and won, 8-2, over Greenville. Joe Augustine held Greenville to two runs and four hits over 4 2/3 innings. ... Rookie League Arizona won, 4-2, over the Arizona Angels. Peter Hodge Nielsen allowed two runs and three walks over three innings. Hilton Richardson drove in two runs with a triple.
Player of the day: Several players had strong offensive days, but Norris enjoyed a tremendous game. His five-hit night was the first time he had collected more than three hits in a game. Norris, the team's 16th round pick in the 2007 Draft, is a switch-hitting outfielder from Butler County Community College. He is batting .268/.383/.313 (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) for Burlington this season.
Coming up: The Royals complete their three-game series with the Rangers on Sunday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium. Nunez (0-0, 2.25 ERA) will make his second start of the season against Kameron Loe (5-8, 5.59 ERA). First pitch is set for 1:10 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.