KANSAS CITY -- Catcher Salvador Perez might be back in the Royals' lineup about two weeks earlier than expected.

Perez, who had knee surgery in Spring Training, originally was projected to be out until about the break for the July 10 All-Star Game in Kansas City. Now it appears he could return by late June.

Perez took batting practice on the field for the first time on Friday after a period of swinging in the indoor cages. He's also been catching side sessions with pitchers in the bullpen.

"He's two weeks ahead of schedule," manager Ned Yost said.

That's good news for the Royals, who were counting heavily on the 22-year-old catcher, who broke in impressively last year after joining the club on Aug. 10. In late February, they signed him to a five-year contract through 2016 for a guaranteed $7 million with three club option years after that. Then he suffered a left knee injury on March 12 and underwent surgery on March 16.

Perez is likely to leave for the Royals' camp at Surprise, Ariz., next week, possibly as soon as Monday.

"He's going to go to Arizona and get in a Spring Training mode and be there two weeks or so. Then move to a Double-A or Triple-A team," Yost said.

He and fellow catcher Manny Pina, who had right knee surgery in Spring Training, are roughly on the same schedule, so they'll be placed on different teams for their Minor League injury rehabilitation assignments.

Infielder Yuniesky Betancourt, on the disabled list with a right ankle sprain, is to accompany the Royals to New York and then leave for Arizona to continue his rehab. He's scheduled to join Double-A Northwest Arkansas for a week, then go to Triple-A Omaha.

Teaford to DL; Adcock to start Sunday

KANSAS CITY -- Left-hander Everett Teaford's listing as the Royals' "probable"
pitcher for Sunday against the Diamondbacks turned out to be just that. Now he's not probable.

Teaford was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a lower abdominal strain on Saturday and was scratched as Sunday's starter.

That job will be taken by right-hander Nate Adcock, recalled from Triple-A Omaha on short notice for the second time.

Adcock was optioned to Omaha on Thursday. That came after he had worked a strong five innings of relief in Wednesday night's 15-inning, 4-3 loss to the Orioles. He gave up the game-deciding home run to Adam Jones in the 15th, but he and right-hander Vin Mazzaro were both shipped out to Omaha because fresh arms were needed in Kansas City.

Teaford and right-hander Louis Coleman replaced them on the roster on Thursday. Coleman has worked out of the bullpen twice since his arrival, and Teaford was being held for use in long relief, but, if not needed in that role, he would start Sunday. That's the rotation spot vacated by left-hander Jonathan Sanchez (biceps tendinitis), who subsequently was joined on the disabled list by another lefty starter, Danny Duffy (elbow surgery).

The Royals are uncertain what caused Teaford's abdominal strain, but he felt it while running on Friday. He becomes the ninth player on the team's disabled list.

Teaford, who believes the injury is not serious, said the pain developed during routine practice on Friday.

"It was just over the course of the day," Teaford said. "There's nothing that really set it off. When I went to run, that's when it really flared up."

Teaford said this is the first time he's been injured.

"I broke my 28-year streak of never missing anything in baseball," he said.

Adcock has been caught repeatedly on the Royals' pitching merry-go-round. He began the season in Omaha's rotation and was recalled to KC on April 28. After appearing in three games, he was optioned to Omaha on May 11, but after joining the team in Fresno, Calif., he was recalled immediately and returned to the KC roster on Monday when Duffy was placed on the disabled list. After pitching in Wednesday night's marathon, he left again but is already on his way back.

When a player is optioned to the Minors, he normally must stay with that team for at least 10 days, but that rule is waived if he's needed to replace an injured Major Leaguer.

Adcock, in four games with the Royals, is 0-1 with a 2.51 ERA. He'll be starting on Sunday after three days of rest; in his five innings against the Orioles, he threw 52 pitches.

Quintero versatile addition behind plate

KANSAS CITY -- Catcher Humberto Quintero, obtained from the Astros in the wake of Salvador Perez's injury, has made an impression so far with his arm and his bat.

Quintero threw out two runners attempting to steal in Friday night's 6-4 loss to the Diamondbacks, making him 8-for-25 or 32 percent effective against would-be base thieves. Manager Ned Yost considers anything over 30 percent as good.

"He's got something that most catchers don't have. He's got a very short, quick release with a strong arm. He's very accurate and his release, his transfer is very quick," Yost said. "And he has the knack of being able to throw the ball accurately to all bases, very quickly. With the knack of looking away and, boom, just throwing it."

Quintero is also noted for quick pickoff throws which makes runners wary. He picked off the Angels' Bobby Wilson on April 7, his 12th pickoff since 2010.

Of Quintero's 19 hits entering Saturday, eight were doubles with one home run.

"He's been our hottest hitter this homestand. He's driven in two runs in every game he's played," Yost said.

Quintero has started 22 games behind the plate and Brayan Pena was to start his 17th game on Saturday night. A switch-hitter, Pena was batting .234 to the right-handed Quintero's .250.

Pena has improved his throwing this season, Yost said, and was 5-for-16, 31 percent against base-stealers.

Last season Perez, despite his cannon arm and quick release, was just 5-for-31 or 16.1 percent for the Royals after having a 42 percent success rate in his Minor League career. Reason?

"Pitchers not giving him a chance," Yost said.

Royals pitchers, as a whole, this year have improved a bit in their ability to hold runners on base, Yost said, and mentioned Luke Hochevar, Bruce Chen, Greg Holland and Jonathan Broxton among those who do it effectively.

What makes a pitcher good at it?

"Their awareness and ability to slide-step the ball to the plate in under 1.4 [seconds]," Yost said.

Crown points

• Friday night's attendance of 33,694 had walk-up sales of 6,061 and represented the second largest crowd this year at Kauffman Stadium, topped only by 40,230 at the home opener.

• Closer Joakim Soria, rehabbing from elbow surgery in Arizona, marked his 28th birthday on Friday.

• Jake Odorizzi, in his Triple-A Omaha debut, held Tacoma to three runs on nine hits and a walk in 6 2/3 innings, but reliever Jeremy Jeffress gained credit for the 5-4 victory. Outfielder Wil Myers had a triple, double and single to go 5-for-9 in his two Triple-A games.