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09/22/09 8:16 PM ET

Finale starter up in air for Royals

At the moment, bullpen may have to shoulder the load

KANSAS CITY -- Royals manager Trey Hillman said on Tuesday that he still isn't sure who's going to start for the Royals on Thursday in the series finale against the Red Sox.

Hillman isn't being coy.

The Royals just don't have many healthy arms left.

Starters Gil Meche and Brian Bannister have been shut down for the season with shoulder fatigue -- though Meche has started to play catch.

Kyle Davies is nursing a tender shoulder. And September callup Dusty Hughes, who started for Davies on Saturday in Chicago, is recovering from nerve irritation in his left elbow that surfaced against the White Sox.

So, yeah, Hillman is in a little bit of a tight spot.

"[We'll] hopefully have something solidified by tomorrow," Hillman said.

The good news is that Hughes did play catch before Tuesday night's game, and his elbow seems to have recovered.

"I didn't feel anything," Hughes said. "I think it was more of a scare than anything else. I had an MRI done [Tuesday], and everything was fine."

Hughes missed all of 2006 after having Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery, so knowing that his elbow is structurally healthy has given him a little peace of mind.

Still, it could be a few more days before he takes the mound. Hughes said he's hopeful that he'll pitch by the end of this homestand.

"We'll play it by ear [Wednesday] and see how things are going," Hughes said.

If nothing else, Hughes could potentially be available to throw an inning or two on Thursday if Hillman decides to use a combination of relievers to get through the game.

And while Meche and Bannister don't figure to be on-the-field options any time soon, Hillman said both were progressing nicely.

"Gil's throwing good," Hillman said.

Reliever Juan Cruz could also return to the team in the next couple of days.

Hillman said Cruz, who has been on the disabled list since Aug. 6 with a right shoulder strain, will throw one more bullpen session before Kansas City makes a decision on his return.

Lastly, the Royals will once again have the services of two regular position players. Mark Teahen, who was battling back spasms, and David DeJesus, who had a sore right ankle, were both back in the lineup on Tuesday.

Rustin Dodd is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.