KANSAS CITY -- Injured third baseman Alex Gordon is returning to Nebraska on Friday to play his first professional baseball game in his home state.

Gordon, who had surgery to repair torn cartilage in his hip on April 17 and hasn't played since April 15, will begin a rehab stint with the Omaha Royals, the Royals' Triple-A affiliate. He's expected to play just one game for the Omaha club, which goes on the road Saturday while Gordon joins Double-A Northwest Arkansas to continue his rehab.

They're expecting a big crowd in Omaha to see Gordon, who grew up in nearby Lincoln, Neb., and led the University of Nebraska to the College World Series in 2005.

Gordon played for Double-A Wichita in 2006 before playing his first full season in Kansas City in '07.

Gordon should have plenty of family and friends in attendance, including another Royals teammate who is working to return from the disabled list.

Catcher John Buck, who has been out since suffering a herniated disk on May 30, is in the midst of a rehab assignment in Omaha.

Royals manager Trey Hillman said Buck took the day off on Wednesday but is continuing to progress.

"We've got a schedule toward the end of this week where we're hoping he can catch back-to-back days, eight to nine innings," Hillman said.

Buck is 5-for-19 with one home run in five games at Omaha after hitting .226 with three homers and 19 RBIs in 28 games for the Royals.

"He hasn't had any setbacks," Hillman said.

Hillman has said Buck could return from disabled list at the end of the weekend or early next week.

Meanwhile, the Royals still are expecting Gordon to come off the disabled list at some point after the All-Star break.

Gordon played in just seven games before going on the disabled list. He had a homer and three RBIs in limited at-bats after hitting .260 with 16 home runs and 59 RBIs in 134 games in 2008.