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Guillen plays through the pain

Guillen plays through the pain

DETROIT -- Jose Guillen was leaning over and slowly working his blue uniform socks onto his feet late on Wednesday afternoon. Music was rocking the Royals' clubhouse and card players were studying hands in the middle of the room.

Guillen had come out of Tuesday night's game in the sixth inning because his legs were tight. But there he was -- listed fourth and in right field for the Royals against the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday night.

"Don't believe that lineup that you see over there," he said, nodding toward the card posted on the clubhouse door. "It might change later on."

It did change at the last minute, but only slightly. Guillen remained in the lineup and batted fourth but as the designated hitter, not the right fielder.

That's another sign that he's not himself these days.

"I'm just not feeling well, man," he said with a sigh. "Both of my groins are sore. It's not fun."

Guillen's first year with the Royals in 2008 was punctuated by bouts with aching legs. Even though manager Trey Hillman gave him the OK to take it easy at times, Guillen was booed if he jogged to first base. Sometimes he had trouble moving easily in the outfield. Stubborn about continuing to play, he never went on the disabled list and matched his career high with 153 games played.

It was a struggle but Guillen still managed to drive in 97 runs and knocked 20 homers. Now the soreness and tightness are paying another visit.

"It looks like it's all coming back again. I don't know why, I don't know what the deal is," Guillen said softly. "I try to figure it out but I don't know."

Hillman knows the run-starved Royals need Guillen's bat. Though hitting .250, he had 35 RBIs to tie Billy Butler for second on the club behind David DeJesus' 39. Guillen also has eight homers on his ledger.

"He's very honest and he's got a high threshold of pain," Hillman said.

Some days his legs feel better than others and, on Tuesday night, they were really tight.

"He made a real nice running catch and went a long ways in on a ball," Hillman pointed out. "I see him overall actually moving better; obviously, he swung the bat better the past couple of days."

Guillen was 4-for-7 in the first two games of the Detroit series.

As his fingers traced the trouble areas on the inside of his thighs, Guillen was asked if his legs felt as they did last season.

"Actually, not that bad," he said. "Something's going on. I don't know what the problem is. It's something I'm going to have to figure out later on and kind of make a decision. I don't want to come next year and have the same problem again. Something's got to get fixed and get done."

Could some sort of surgery be in his future?

"I don't know," Guillen said. "This is the second year I keep running into this problem and I don't want to keep going through that. ... It's not comfortable to run and play and hit and everything."

Coming up next week is the All-Star break which will afford him four days of rest. Another option is a stay on the 15-day disabled list.

"Who's going to go on the DL?" Guillen said. "This is not a DL thing."

Hillman hopes not.

"We know we need his bat for production," Hillman said. "I hope he doesn't have any setbacks."

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

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