Gathright back in action Friday

Gathright back in action Friday

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Anytime Joey Gathright's wheels threaten to go flat, the Royals apply the brakes.

Gathright, though, seemed ready to go full speed ahead on Friday after a slight scare the previous night.

Feeling tightness in his left hamstring while chasing a bloop hit in the ninth inning against Milwaukee on Thursday, he took the cautious approach.

"It was a little tight," Gathright said. "I didn't want to take a chance on actually hurting it and missing the start of the season."

So he was pulled out of center field just in case. A massage seemed to take care of the problem.

Gathright, the Royals' swiftest player (he's 8-for-8 in steal attempts this spring), was cleared to play on Friday against the Seattle Mariners. He entered the game in the fifth inning and went 0-for-2.

"He said last night, afterwards, that he was afraid it was going to get to a cramp and he didn't want to allow that to happen," manager Trey Hillman said.

"I just reiterated that in the meeting this morning to everyone. We're getting down to crunch time. We've still got very difficult decisions to make on our roster and I don't want those decisions to be made because somebody's hurt. I'd rather have everyone healthy."

Mark Grudzielanek (back strain) might return to second base on Saturday against the San Diego Padres. That all depends on how his at-bats as a DH in a Minor League game went on Friday.

Catcher Miguel Olivo (groin) also was scheduled to play in a Minor League game.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.