KANSAS CITY -- The Royals' rotation has been a pleasant surprise this season, but could be about to undergo some changes. The starters have a 3.94 ERA, which ranks fifth in the American League, but Luke Hudson and Scott Elarton are close to finishing their Minor League rehab assignments and could rejoin the rotation by the end of the week. Hudson threw 95 pitches and struck out seven while walking none in a Saturday start for Triple-A Omaha at Oklahoma. He allowed three runs and seven hits in five-plus innings.
"We're going to have to evaluate him and Elarton maybe as early as tonight to see where we're at," manager Buddy Bell said on Sunday. "We need to talk staff-wise on where we move this guy or that guy, in or out of the rotation, to the bullpen or down to Omaha. I would hope this is a lot clearer in a couple of days." The Royals are also listening to trade offers about their pitchers. Barring a trade, the Royals could option Brian Bannister, who is 0-2 with a 4.60 ERA in three starts, to Omaha, opening one spot. There has been speculation Zack Greinke, who made three relief appearances last September, could go to the bullpen. "I think we'd all prefer for him to be in the rotation, but we also want him on the staff," Bell said. "We obviously think he could be pretty successful in the bullpen as well, depending on how we put together the staff. We haven't talked about that at all, which leads me to believe none of us wants that to happen. Because of the numbers of our rotation guys, we couldn't say it couldn't happen." Another factor is Odalis Perez has a recurring finger blister. While Bell said he did not believe it is serious, he did not rule out putting Perez on the disabled list to let it heal. "That could happen," Bell said. "That's why we wait. That's why we don't really have a discussion on a lot of this stuff until we have to. We wait until the 11th hour to do this stuff. Odalis' blister could be bothering him. There could be a trade." Bale out: Left-hander John Bale likely will not be joining the bullpen anytime soon. Bale aggravated his shoulder injury while making his third rehab appearance on Saturday with Double-A Wichita. "He had a setback on his 18th pitch," Bell said. "He re-injured it, and from what I understand, it doesn't look like he's going to be back up here until after the All-Star break at the earliest." The Royals signed Bale, who had pitched the previous three years in Japan, as a free agent in December. Sweeney homers: Mike Sweeney's first-inning home run on Saturday was the 193rd of his career, tying him with Amos Otis for second place on the Royals' all-time home run chart. "When I first came to Kansas City, I never really thought I'd have a chance to play beyond a year or two," Sweeney said. "I've been very blessed that I've been a Royal for so long. I'm thankful for the organization giving me a chance to be here for so long." Sweeney was not considered a home run hitter when he first came up. "I still don't think I am," Sweeney said. "I'm just kind of a line-drive guy and sometimes balls fly out of the yard. I just try to hit the ball hard every time up." Sweeney does not like his chances to surpass Hall of Famer George Brett, who hit 317 home runs with the Royals. "I think I would have to play another five to seven years to catch George," Sweeney said. "George Brett is Mr. Kansas City. He will always be Mr. Kansas City. I'll leave all those records to him." Sweeney played first base on Saturday for the first time since Aug. 28, 2005. "It was fun," Sweeney said. "I loved being back at first base. I really enjoyed it." Mr. Assist: Mark Teahen logged three outfield assists in the loss on Saturday, which tied a club record. The only other Royals outfielder with three assists in a game was Bob Oliver, who did it on Sept. 16, 1969, against the Seattle Pilots. Teahen had shoulder surgery last September and moved from third base to the outfield this year. "He showed his arm," Bell said. "Of course, that was a big question mark coming into the season because of his surgery." Around the horn: Gil Meche's last two wins were over the Weaver brothers, Jeff of the Mariners and Jered of the Angels. The last pitcher to win back-to-back starts over brothers was Frank Tanana of the Rangers, Sept. 19 and 24, 1985, over Joe and Phil Niekro. ... The Royals top the Majors with 26 hit by pitches. Third baseman Alex Gordon has been hit by an American League-leading seven pitches. ... Home builder Kevin Green, who has been instrumental in helping those in need through the Extreme Makeover Home Edition television show, sat in the Buck O'Neil Legacy Seat on Sunday. Minor points: Chris Nicoll, a 2005 third-round draft choice, allowed two runs and struck out eight in five innings in Class A Wilmington's 4-2 victory over Potomac on Saturday. Marc Maddox and Mario Lisson each had two hits. ... First baseman Mike Stodolka drove in three runs as Wichita defeated Tulsa, 5-4. On deck: The Royals are off on Monday before opening a three-game series on Tuesday with the Athletics. Chad Gaudin of the A's and Jorge De La Rosa of the Royals will be the starters for the 7:10 p.m. CT opener.
Alan Eskew is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.