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Notes: Royals set in left field

Notes: Royals set in left field

KANSAS CITY -- At one position, the Royals have found success against left-handed starters. Another is still having a problematic season against southpaws.

Emil Brown, who is hitting a team-high .302 against left-handers, started in left field Sunday afternoon against Marlins lefty Scott Olsen. Brown, who is batting just .194 against right-handers, continues to platoon in left field with Joey Gathright.

The speedy Gathright has seen just five at-bats against lefties, and he is hitting .294 in 24 at-bats vs. right-handers.

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"Brown is always going to be in there against left-handers, and at times, he is going to be in there against right-handers as well," manager Buddy Bell said. "It's not a strict platoon in Brownie's case, but in Gathright's case, it is."

The Royals don't have a platoon at first base. Because of injuries and Mike Sweeney being limited to designated-hitter duties, Kansas City is playing Ryan Shealy every day. Shealy, who is batting just .209 this season, has struggled mightily against left-handers.

His .111 average (5-for-45) vs. southpaws is lowest on the team. Among American League first baseman, Shealy's .311 on-base plus slugging percentage against southpaws is by far the lowest, more than 300 points behind the Yankees' Josh Phelps (.618 OPS).

"We are going to stay with him," Bell said of Shealy. "He is doing a lot of work in the cage, and [we] saw a lot of great things last year. We just hope he gets some confidence back and starts getting some hits. He went through a period similar to Alex [Gordon], where he is getting some hits and not getting rewarded for it. Probably his swing got a little hard and a little long. He is a talented kid; he just needs to get some hits, that's all."

Gload update: Ross Gload, on the disabled list since May 14 with a right quadriceps tear, is slowly progressing. He is taking batting practice each day, and he will start to run soon.

"There is a little something new every day," Gload said. "I will start to jog here in a couple of days. Right now, I feel better than I have felt all year. I have played with it since Spring Training."

Gload doesn't have a timetable to return, but Bell has said a reasonable expectation is just after the All-Star break.

"I would like to get back as soon as possible, but we are going to let it heal all the way," Gload said. "I want to come back and help out. I am sure that I will play in [Triple-A] Omaha for a couple of days, and hopefully there will be no setbacks and I will be ready to go here."

This date in Royals history: Former Royals manager Dick Howser passed away from a brain tumor on this date 20 years ago. Howser was the only Royals manager to win a World Series title, capturing the 1985 crown. Howser, who led the Royals to a 404-365 record, has his No. 10 retired by the club.

O'Neil seat: In honor of Father's Day, Mark Hoduski, recently named the 2007 Royals Father of the Year by the National Center of Fathering for his commitment to family, sat in Buck's seat on Sunday. Hoduski also teaches history at Maranatha Academy.

Bunts: The bullpen has taken a heavy toll in recent days, but Bell said the only pitcher who is not available Sunday is left-hander Neal Musser. ... The Royals are 16-16 since May 12. ... KC is 7-4 against the National League this season, helping the AL retain an 82-72 record in Interleague Play entering Sunday's action.

Royals rundown: Omaha lost, 7-5, to Nashville on Saturday. Mitch Maier hit a solo homer, Billy Butler collected two hits and Derek Wathan, son of former Royals player and manager John Wathan, had a two-run single in his first game with the O-Royals. ... Double-A Wichita lost, 6-5, to Springfield. Geraldo Valentin had three hits, including a double, and scored twice. ... Backed by All-Star Rowdy Hardy, Class A Wilmington won, 6-1, over Winston Salem. Hardy tossed a complete game and permitted just one run on six hits. Jose Duarte, another All-Star, scored two runs. ... Class A Burlington was shut out, 3-0, by Kane County. Ryan Di Pietro took the loss, allowing three runs -- two earned -- in 4 1/3 innings.

Player of the day: The amazing season continues for Hardy. The tall left-hander has been the best pitcher in the Carolina League this year, posting an 8-1 record and 1.55 ERA in 14 games, including 10 starts. He has permitted more than one earned run just twice in his last 10 outings.

Coming up: The I-70 Series moves to St. Louis on Monday night. In a rematch of Wednesday's game, Odalis Perez (3-7, 6.19 ERA) will pitch against his career-long nemesis. Adam Wainwright (5-5, 4.66 ERA), who tossed eight innings of one-hit ball against the Royals, will pitch for the Cardinals. First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m. CT.

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

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