SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Royals catcher Jason Kendall has finally conceded he won't be ready by Opening Day and even pushed back his tentative return date to late April.
Kendall plans to return home with the Royals next week, continue his shoulder rehabilitation work in Kansas City and be with the club for the first homestand against the Angels and the White Sox.
"I'll be a cheerleader," he said.
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When the Royals go on the road, Kendall will return to Surprise for extended spring training and then play some games with Triple-A Omaha or Double-A Northwest Arkansas on a rehab assignment.
Despite Kendall's ambition to be back by Thursday's opener, the best-case scenario according to the club was April 15. Now that's been pushed back a week or 10 days.
"I hit a little wall about a week ago and I'm over that," Kendall said. "It was more my decision just because I know my body and I'm not there yet. It would be unfair to my teammates. I could be ready for March 31, play a week and blow out or I can make sure it's 100 percent and be there for four or five months."
In any case, Kendall is way ahead of schedule on his return from right shoulder surgery last Sept. 3.
"I'm not really supposed to start playing again until late June," he said. "I'm not supposed to throw until May."
He's been throwing through most of Spring Training and has caught batting practice. But he's not quite ready for games.
"It's the first Opening Day I'll miss in 16 years, but I also know I can play more Opening Days, too," he said.