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Notes: First base up for grabs

Notes: First base up for grabs

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals' starting first baseman once Ryan Shealy comes off the disabled list is a question mark. One thing is clear: Billy Butler isn't going anywhere.

"We know one thing," manager Buddy Bell said. "We want Billy to stay here."

Little is decided beyond that.

Shealy, the starting first baseman, was placed on the disabled list on June 30 with a left hamstring strain and has been rehabbing at Triple-A Omaha. The O-Royals start a four-game series with Colorado Springs on Saturday night.

Bell said Shealy will DH the first game and play first base during the next three contests. After the series, the team will discuss Shealy's future.

"We really haven't talked about it a whole lot," Bell said. "We are going to sit down and talk about it once Shealy gets healthy. It will be a cause for some discussion, there is no doubt about it. We certainly still feel like Shealy is a big part of our club.

"Right now, we are just not sure when that is going to be. Is that going to be when he is well, or do we keep him down [at Triple-A] longer and give us a little more time to figure it out?"

Ross Gload has been the main first baseman in Shealy's absence, while Alex Gordon and Billy Butler have also seen playing time. Asked if Shealy, batting .221 this season, will reclaim the position when he returns, Bell said, "I don't know."

Gload is batting .283 since he returned from the disabled list on June 30, but the Royals see him as similar to Esteban German, someone that is more valuable as a utilityman.

Butler is another possibility to start. One of the best rookie hitters in baseball, Butler is a work in progress at first base. Butler started one game at first against the Red Sox and was impressive, but the Royals won't know how well Butler can play the field until he sees several starts.

That could be this season or in winter ball.

"It can't be just one or two games," Bell said. "It has to be an extended period of time where he gets to play first base a lot. And to that end, we have to decide whether or not winter ball or something like that is in order for him, too."

Media member hit: During an interview with shortstop Tony Pena before Friday's game, Karen Kornacki of KMBC-TV was hit in the eye with a pellet-gun shot by Emil Brown. Kornacki and several media members were gathered around Pena's locker when a pellet struck Kornacki in the eye and knocked out her contact.

Kornacki was in pain and, according to a team official, was taken to an eye doctor. Bell later talked to Kornacki and said that she was OK.

Brown was very apologetic after the game.

"It was kind of a freaky thing," Brown said. "I don't know how it happened. I just wanted to say that I send my deepest condolences. I feel terrible about what happened to Karen, because she is one of the nicest people as far as I met in the media."

Brown had tried to contact Kornacki, but he hasn't been able to reach her.

"I am concerned about how she is doing," Brown said. "I would much rather talk to her than leave a voicemail message."

Bell declined to comment if Brown would face any repercussions.

Pena ends walk streak: Pena ended his team-record 244 plate appearance streak without a walk on Thursday night against the Yankees. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the longest streak in the Major Leagues since Livan Hernandez went 295 plate appearances from 2000-2003 and the longest position player streak since Shawon Dunston in 1999-2000.

The team gave Pena the ball and several people -- including Pena's father, Yankees' first base coach Tony Pena, Sr. -- laughed and smiled when the streak ended.

Pena wasn't concerned about the streak that stretched back to May 5.

"It's something I didn't really think about," he said. "I just tried to get a good pitch to hit and put the ball in play."

And that's worked very well. In his first full season, Pena has just seven walks, but his line of 288,299, and 378 (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) is solid. Pena's .677 OPS ranks ninth out of 13 qualifying American League shortstops.

Duckworth, Thomson update: Brandon Duckworth, placed on the disabled list June 14 with a left rib cage strain, will use all of his pitches for the first time on Saturday. Bell said Duckworth could start a rehab assignment in the next week. John Thomson, on the DL with lower back spasms, will be a "little longer," Bell said.

Gordon pleased for former teammate, friend: One of Gordon's best friends is rocketing through the Minors.

Joba Chamberlain, the No. 1 pitcher on the 2005 Nebraska team with Gordon, was a first-round sandwich pick in the 2006 draft, and was recently promoted to Triple-A in his first full year of pro baseball.

Chamberlain, 9-2 with a 2.57 ERA, and could see a Major League callup soon after striking out 10 over five innings in his first Triple-A appearance. Gordon spoke with Chamberlain on Thursday night.

"I have kept up with him and have been looking at his stats and what not," Gordon said. "He is doing well and I hope we get to see him pretty soon. Good person, great player and good teammate, and I have nothing but good things to say about him. I grew up with him all through my life and we have been friends for a while."

In Buck's seat: Diane Henderson is sitting in Buck's seat for Friday's game. For 34 years, she has taught dance for area children through her studio, Diane's School of Dance in the Northland.

Royals Rundown: Triple-A Omaha took both ends of a doubleheader from Salt Lake, winning the games, 4-2, and 7-3. Luke Hochevar, the No. 1 pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, threw six innings of two-run ball in the first game. Hochevar is 1-1 with a 3.94 ERA and a 15/8 strikeout to walk rate in 16 innings (three starts) for Omaha. In the second game, Tyler Lumsden, one of the Royals' top pitching prospects, tossed 5 2/3 innings of two-run ball. After two starts where he worked a combined 2 2/3 innings, Lumsden has allowed just three earned runs in his last two starts. ... Double-A Wichita lost, 8-4, to Springfield. D.J. Mattox allowed seven runs on seven hits over 4 2/3 innings. Jorge Padilla went 2-for-4 and raised his batting average to .361.

Class A Wilmington lost, 7-5, to Kinston. Brian McFall drove in three runs on two hits and has 11 RBIs in his last three games. ... Class A Burlington lost, 14-6, to Quad Cities. Ryan DiPietro permitted five runs in two innings. Derrick Robinson had two RBIs and stole his team-leading 23rd base of the season. ... Advanced Rookie League Idaho Falls had an off day on Thursday. ... Rookie League Burlington lost, 8-0, to Danville. Henry Arias allowed three earned runs in two innings. ... The Arizona Royals had the day off.

Player of the day: McFall, a first baseman and the Royals' third-round pick in the 2003 draft, has 14 RBIs in his six games. He is batting .256 with eight homers and 44 RBIs this season.

Coming up: Odalis Perez (5-9, 5.80 ERA) will try for his first quality start since June 30 when he faces Kevin Millwood (7-8, 5.56 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 6:10 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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