SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Mark Grudzielanek continues to make faster progress than the Royals initially anticipated from arthroscopic knee surgery, but the club could be without starting center fielder David DeJesus for about week. Grudzielanek took ground balls and batting practice on Saturday for the first time since his March 5 surgery. "He looked good," Royals manager Buddy Bell said. "Dr. [Steve] Joyce and the medical staff have given him more clearance to do things than we thought when it first happened this soon, anyway."
Grudzielanek's goal is to be the starting second baseman for the April 2 opener, while originally Bell was not planning on him being available until mid or late April, Grudzielanek expects to play in a Spring Training game before the club leaves Arizona after a March 29 game. "Now it's possible," Bell said. "We're still going to put this team together thinking he is not going to be on it Opening Day, but there is a possibility he could be in an exhibition game before we leave here." Bell said DeJesus, who has missed three straight games, has an abdominal virus and has been throwing up and has chills. "It saps your energy," Bell said. "He is getting some more tests that will tell us when he can come back. What the doc tells me, so this doesn't prolong the way he feels, he probably won't be back until Thursday or Friday." Meche's start: Gil Meche worked three scoreless innings on Saturday, but in the fourth could not retire any of the six Diamondbacks he faced in the four-run frame before being pulled. "For three innings, I had great stuff," Meche said. "I was pleased with the first three innings. I just fell apart in the fourth inning, no excuses. I had a terrible inning. Today was just one fluke inning. You just put it behind you and get your work in for my next start." Did Meche hit a wall in the fourth with the temperatures in the 90s? "I can't pinpoint whether my legs got tired, if I was sweating too much or just lost command," Meche said. "My arm felt OK, so that is the biggest key. It was just a matter of trying to make an adjustment. I couldn't do it quick enough. It was just one of those days. I hadn't had an inning like that in Spring Training, which is good. You don't want to say you want them to happen in Spring Training, but if they happen you'd rather they happen now than in your first couple of starts in the season."
Meche called this "the dead part" of Spring Training."You know you're getting close, less than two weeks before we get out of here," Meche said. "Everybody can kind of smell the finish line and get ready for the season, that's when the fun really starts. Right now, you kind of maintain what you have and simplify things and get as sharp as you can." Buck honored: The city of Surprise renamed a street adjacent to Surprise Stadium and stretching past the Royals Spring Training clubhouse "Buck O'Neil Way." O'Neil, a Royals scout for several years, a Negro Leagues player and manager, Major League coach and a nationwide baseball ambassador, passed away last October. The unveiling of the "Buck O'Neil Way" street sign came during a ceremony before Saturday's game. "He would be so proud of this and he would be so tremendously humbled today by this wonderful honor," said Bob Kendrick, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum director of marketing. "He loved coming to Surprise as much as anything. It is an honor for me to be here for this. We're excited about all the excitement still surrounding Buck." Mark Coronado, director of Surprise community and recreation services, also spoke at the unveiling ceremonies. There was also an on-the-field presentation honoring O'Neil in the fifth inning of the Royals-Diamondbacks game. p /> "Buck's memory will continue and continue, not only in Kansas City, but in Surprise," said Royals vice president of community affairs and publicity Toby Cook. Other medical updates: Justin Huber said he has a pulled left hamstring, which happened while running the bases on Thursday. He was not allowed to do any on-the-field activity on Saturday. "Hard to say," Huber said when asked when he would return. "It's better today." Scott Elarton said he had didn't "have any soreness" on Saturday after throwing a 30-pitch batting practice session on Friday. "I threw OK," Elarton said. "I didn't feel great." Next will be 35-40 pitches, including curveballs, in batting practice on Monday. Alex Sanchez, who had been out with right hamstring tightness, started at shortstop against the Diamondbacks. ... Outfielder Shane Costa, who has been restricted because of a back strain, returned to baseball activities, but did not play on Saturday. ... Right-hander Joe Nelson, who had shoulder surgery, has returned to Surprise to begin his rehab. On deck: Odalis Perez will be the Royals starter on Sunday against the Giants at Scottsdale Stadium. Noah Lowry will get the call for San Francisco in the 3:05 p.m. CT Cactus League game.
Alan Eskew is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.