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Notes: Dotel setback, return uncertain

Notes: Dotel setback, return uncertain

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BALTIMORE -- Octavio Dotel's recovery from a strained left oblique muscle took another detour Thursday when the Royals reliever had to cut short a rehabilitation session at the team's Spring Training facility in Surprise, Ariz.

"He threw today off the mound, and he was throwing good for the first 20 (pitches) and then he felt something similar to what he had before [in] the same area," Royals manager Buddy Bell said. "We're not sure if he re-injured it, if it's part of the process or what. We'll just have to wait and see."

Dotel, who signed a one-year, $5 million contract to be the Royals' closer, will travel to Kansas City on Friday to have another magnetic resonance imaging test on his side, Bell said.

"We're not very optimistic about when he will be back," Bell said Thursday afternoon. "We don't really know when that's going to be, which is obviously discouraging."

Until Dotel's health is resolved, Bell will continue to mix and match in the back end of his bullpen, using David Riske, Joel Peralta and Joakim Soria in save situations.

Riske, who threw 29 pitches during a scoreless ninth inning in Kansas City's 7-4 loss at Toronto on Wednesday, was unavailable Thursday, Bell said.

Soria, a Rule 5 draft pick who picked up his first professional save Tuesday, would be Bell's choice to close in the series opener against the Orioles on Thursday.

"We're going to have to readjust our thinking, but we'll probably just do it the way we have up until this point anyway," Bell said. "The way Soria's throwing, we'll probably keep him closer to the end than any of the other two."

Bell still is processing the effects of Dotel's prolonged absence from the Royals' bullpen. Dotel was first expected to return this weekend, then the timetable was pushed back to April 20 after Dotel was sent to Arizona to rehabilitate what was thought to be a minor injury.

Now, Bell doesn't know when -- or if -- Dotel will be able to contribute.

"You deal with it, you adjust to it and hope it works out," Bell said.

Reggie's return: Outfielder/designated hitter Reggie Sanders arrived at Camden Yards on Thursday as a Royal. A few weeks ago, Sanders wasn't sure whether he'd be greeting his ex-teammates this weekend while wearing an Orioles uniform.

At the end of Spring Training, rumors were swirling that the Orioles, in need of a right-handed hitting outfielder to bolster their bench, would acquire Sanders from Kansas City. Left-hander Brian Burress was to go to the Royals, who would pick up a portion of Sanders' $5 million contract.

"I did hear the talk and the rumors," Sanders said. "My agent called me and said there was some stuff brewing. I knew that scouts were there to watch, but nothing materialized."

The proposed trade was scuttled when the Orioles figured Sanders wouldn't be happy in what amounted to a reserve role. Sanders entered Thursday's game hitting .417 with a homer and two RBIs, but was not in the starting lineup against Baltimore right-hander Steve Trachsel.

The grass is greener: Count second baseman Mark Grudzielanek among those happy to ditch the tough artificial surface at Rogers Centre in Toronto for the manicured Kentucky bluegrass of Camden Yards.

Grudzielanek, still recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in March, played only one of three games in Toronto. Bell decided to rest Grudzielanek rather than risk re-injury on what is considered one of the worst turf surfaces in the Major Leagues.

"It just tears your body quicker. The cuts and the things you do on the turf, there's no give at all on the pressure points," Grudzielanek said. "The intensity you put on your body compared to grass, it's pretty high. I couldn't imagine playing on that stuff again."

Ross Gload, who has been limited by a sore quadriceps, started at first base Thursday, while designated hitter Mike Sweeney, who got Wednesday night off after playing the first two games in Toronto, was back in the cleanup spot.

Not left out: With Grudzielanek back at second, Bell had the luxury of shifting utility man Esteban German to left field for the first time this season.

German, who is batting .467 and has hit in all four of his starts this season, worked in the offseason to improve his outfield defense. But with Grudzielanek out much of Spring Training, Bell has had few opportunities to use German in the outfield.

Coming up: Right-hander Brandon Duckworth (0-0, 0.00) opposes Orioles left-hander Erik Bedard (1-1, 6.94) in the second game of the four-game series. Duckworth, who earned a roster spot as a non-roster invitee to Spring Training, worked 6 1/3 shutout innings Sunday against Detroit, allowing only four hits.

Pete Kerzel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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