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7/24/2014 7:26 P.M. ET

Simulated game next step for KC lefty Vargas

KANSAS CITY -- Jason Vargas continues to make progress in his recovery from the appendectomy that landed the starter on the disabled list.

Vargas threw a side session on Wednesday, and Royals manager Ned Yost revealed that the next step in Vargas' rehab process will come not in the form of a rehab stint, but something more similar to a simulated game on Saturday.

Yost explained Vargas' program includes three 15-pitch innings. The left-handed Vargas (8-4, 3.31 ERA) last pitched on July 8.

Bruised hand keeps Hosmer from starting lineup

KANSAS CITY -- Eric Hosmer knows the significance of every game at the current juncture of the Royals' season, and for him, that's the most frustrating part of missing Thursday's series opener against Cleveland at Kauffman Stadium due to his injured right hand.

"It's getting late in the season, we're playing some big games, some division games, so I want to be in there," Hosmer said before the game.

Kansas City, which sits in third place in the American League Central, beat the White Sox, 2-1, on Wednesday, but lost its first baseman. Hosmer exited in the eighth inning when he aggravated the bruised right hand that forced him to miss the previous two games.

Royals manager Ned Yost classified Hosmer as day to day.

"It's a bruise that's pretty diffused over the back of his hand. He can handle the pain of it, he just loses [strength] pretty quick [with his] grip on the bat," Yost said.

Hosmer echoed Yost's diagnosis.

"If it was a thing of pain tolerance, I've got a pretty good tolerance for pain. I just try to squeeze for more strength, and it just shuts down on me," Hosmer said.

It's inopportune timing for Hosmer, who after struggling for most of the first half of the season, appeared to be rounding into form. His early departure Wednesday snapped a 16-game hitting streak.

The injury first occurred Sunday when Red Sox starter Jon Lester plunked Hosmer with a pitch in the Royals' 6-0 loss.

"It's a day-to-day thing, and as soon as the feeling is back, and we can be good to grip a bat, we can be good to go," Hosmer said.

Kansas City compensated for the loss of Hosmer by placing Billy Butler at first base Thursday, and sticking Nori Aoki at designated hitter, a position usually occupied by Butler.

Yost explained his reasoning for Aoki at DH rather than Raul Ibanez.

"It just wasn't a good matchup, numbers-wise. Ibanez against [Indians starter Corey] Kluber is 0-for-7 with three punchouts, Nori is 0-for-4 with no punchouts. .... We like the matchup better with Nori," Yost said.

Starling turning it on at Class A Wilmington

KANSAS CITY -- Bubba Starling's strong second half continued Wednesday, as the farmhand was a home run shy of the cycle for Class A Wilmington.

Starling, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft and the Royals' No. 7 prospect, finished 4-for-5 with two RBIs and three runs. He scored the go-ahead run in the Blue Rocks' 7-6 win after tripling in the top of the 10th.

Starling has a .226/.307/.353 slash line in his third season as a professional. But in the last 10 games, Starling features an .343/.425/.514 line, with three stolen bases.

Worth noting

•  The Royals honored the late Al Zych with a moment of silence before Thursday's game. Zych, a Kansas City native, served as the Royals' equipment manager from their inaugural season in 1969 to 1988. He passed away on July 13 in a two-vehicle accident near the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri at the age of 87.

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