SURPRISE, Ariz. -- No shocker here: Catcher Jason Kendall, a man of blue grit, says his goal is to be back playing when the Royals begin the season.
"I still plan on being back [for] Opening Day. Is that going to happen? I don't know," he said on Wednesday.
That's against the odds, but Kendall was in an especially optimistic mood after getting the go-ahead to begin a throwing program with his repaired right shoulder. That came in a Los Angeles visit this week with his surgeon, Dr. Neal ElAttrache.
"He said I was way ahead of the game and he was definitely excited," Kendall said.
Manager Ned Yost was pleased but cautious.
"I'm not going to put limits on him, but I'm not rushing him, by any stretch of the imagination," Yost said.
Yost wasn't aware of how bad Kendall's right shoulder had become last season and neither was the catcher until he happened to be tossing a ball with his 6-year-old son last August.
"I was playing catch with him but throwing left-handed," Kendall said. "He was like, 'Use your right hand.' I said, 'I can't, buddy.' He said, 'You do at night when you're playing.' I said, 'That's a good point.' So that's when I went down and asked if I could get an MRI."
The MRI showed extensive damage, and he underwent surgery on Sept. 3.
"I did a number on it," Kendall said. "It was complete mashed potatoes."
He did some light throwing on Wednesday but admitted to some "illegal" tossing earlier this winter in Kansas City.
"I started with snowballs," he said. "You get curious, you want to see what's happening. ... It's not like I was throwing to second base."
This is the second time in Kendall's career that he's had to come back from a serious injury. In 1999 with Pittsburgh, he suffered a gruesome right ankle injury that threatened his career. He missed half the season but returned to play 152 games the next year.
Kendall sees the similarities in the situations.
"Absolutely," he said. "Everybody's saying, 'No, no, no.' I like the challenge. I've done what I can do. Do I have a chance to blow out? Absolutely. Do I have a chance to continue my career? Absolutely. And that's what I plan on doing."
Beginning on Opening Day?
"In my mind, I'm going to be ready," he said. "But I'm not going to be dumb about it. It might not be then, but it'll be shortly thereafter."
Soria skips throwing BP to polish mechanics
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Premier closer Joakim Soria skipped his scheduled turn to pitch batting practice on Wednesday but, fear not, manager Ned Yost said there's no cause for concern.
"'Jack' wanted one more side session to polish up some things mechanics-wise, and he threw a pretty extended side session and looked great," Yost said.
There's no injury issue with Soria, the manager said emphatically.
"He wanted another day [before] throwing batting practice. There's absolutely no issue with Soria," Yost said. "I hesitate to say it because people all of a sudden want to make an issue out of it. He wanted to throw another side session. He's an All-Star and he's earned that right."
Pucetas gets new opportunity with Royals
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Among the right-handed pitchers in the Royals' camp is Kevin Pucetas.
He was acquired from San Francisco as the player to be named in the trade for outfielder Jose Guillen. It was the first time that Pucetas, drafted by the Giants in 2006, has been traded.
His situation reminded him of Kevin Costner's character in the movie "Bull Durham."
"It was like Crash Davis coming in and saying, 'I'm the player to be named later,'" Pucetas said. "I thought, 'That stinks.' Now I'm that guy."
Pucetas was one of the last cuts in the Giants' Spring Training camp last year. He's been a starter throughout the Minors, going a combined 15-13 in the last two years with Triple-A Fresno.
Yost pleased with conditioning of Royals
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- As a more svelte Sean O'Sullivan happened to walk by, Royals manager Ned Yost noted that the starting pitcher was indeed looking good.
"We wanted him to lose some weight and he did lose 20 pounds. He worked very, very diligently on his conditioning," Yost said.
With all the pitchers and catchers in camp and most of the infielders and outfielders reporting early, Yost is pleased with the overall conditioning of the team.
"We didn't have one issue with one player that came in overweight or out of shape," Yost said. "Everybody's in great shape, from Billy Butler to O'Sullivan to [Wilson] Betemit to [Brayan] Pena."
Pena dropped 10 pounds in an effort to increase his mobility behind the plate.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.