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05/29/09 7:20 PM ET

Royals target Gordon's return at midseason

Third baseman progressing from hip surgery; Crisp sits out

KANSAS CITY -- Third baseman Alex Gordon got a thumbs-up in an evaluation of his right hip at the Colorado clinic where he underwent surgery on April 18.

"Glowing reports. He's moving along," Royals manager Trey Hillman said on Friday. "He's moved to a very, very easy, small number of ground balls in the cage along with a limited number of tee swings with the bat."

The Royals expect Gordon to be ready to play by midseason.

"We're still looking at around to or close to the All-Star break," which comes in the second week in July, Hillman said.

Closer Joakim Soria will throw again in a game on Saturday in Surprise, Ariz., where he's recovering from a right rotator cuff strain.

"He was fine in his first outing on Wednesday. Velocity was good. Command was a little bit off but not bad," Hillman said.

Center fielder Coco Crisp was out of the lineup for a second straight game on Friday night against the White Sox. Willie Bloomquist filled in as the center fielder and leadoff batter, taking both spots for the first time this year.

"I knew that was a possibility with a left-hander on the mound and Coco banged up," said Bloomquist, referring to Chicago starter Clayton Richard. "I've got to be ready for anything."

That's the sixth position at which he's started for the Royals. He's also played four innings at first base, so he's done everything except pitch and catch.

Back in the dugout was Hillman after being suspended for Wednesday's game against the Tigers. Shortly before that game, he heard from Bob Watson, Major League Baseball's vice president of on-field operations.

Hillman, who had complained he didn't get a chance to give his side of the story before being disciplined, got to vent to Watson, if belatedly.

"I spoke my piece professionally and I was pretty adamant about my points," he said. "He was kind enough to listen to me."

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.