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Notes: KC hopes to get well at home
04/30/2007 9:52 PM ET
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals will be more than happy to flip the calendar to May. April has traditionally been unkind to the Royals.

The Royals went into their final April date with an 8-17 record. They were 5-17 in April last season; 6-18 in 2005 and 7-14 in 2004. The Royals have had only one winning April -- 16-7 in 2003 -- since 1990.

"We wanted to get off to a good start and we obviously have not done that, but that doesn't mean we can not have a good year," Royals manager Buddy Bell said on Monday.

The Royals opened a 10-game homestand, their longest of the season, Monday.

"I think it is very important that we have a good homestand and start swinging the bats," Bell said. "I think we are better. Obviously, we have to hit better. And we have to catch the ball better. Our starting pitching is something we can kind of hang our hat on. I think the starting pitcher is going to determine how your year is going to go anyway."

Dating back to April 22, the Royals rotation had a 2.98 ERA, but on the just concluded five-game road trip the Royals hit just .192 with runners in scoring position. Defensively, the Royals' .979 fielding percentage tied for ninth in the American League.

"I said in the spring it was important for us to get off to a good start," right fielder Mark Teahen said. "We haven't really done that, but at the same time there's a whole lot of season left. We haven't gotten the wins, but you can see as a whole the organization and this team is a lot better than what we've been putting on the field the last couple of years.

"It definitely gets to you, but I know how much better we can play once we get on a roll. Being a young team, it make take a longer time for us to get settled in and understand what our role is with this team. Hopefully, any day now we can start getting that winning feeling and expecting to win. We definitely play better at home. It is a good chance to play in front of our fans and get rolling in the right direction."

Shealy starts: Ryan Shealy entered Monday hitting .096, but was back at first base. Bell said sending Shealy back to the Minors to work on his swing has not been discussed. Shealy ended an 0-for-9 skid with an RBI double in the second inning against the Angels, but left the game after he was out at the plate attempting to score on a hit by shortstop Tony Pena Jr. and was limping noticeably. Shealy exited with a tight left hamstring and will be re-evaluated Tuesday. He was replaced by Ross Gload at first base.

"It's basically up to them whether or not they are consistent big-league players," Bell said. "It is to be determined. In Ryan's particular case, he's been doing a lot in the cage. He's been closed up [with his stance]. He's been opened up. We're just trying to figure out a way. Sometimes, you have to do something drastic to get back where you want to be. Ryan just hasn't' found that timing, that setup that he really feels most comfortable in. The only way he is gong to get out of it is to play."

Bell said a prolonged slump is "probably the worst feeling you possibly can have professionally."

"It becomes more of a mental issue than anything else," Bell said. "You think about it when you leave. You think about when you get up in the morning. When you're a young player, there's not any track record that you can fall back on."

Injury updates: Closer Octavio Dotel, who is on the disabled with a strained left oblique, threw off the mound on Monday in Surprise, Ariz., for the first time since having a setback earlier in the month. General manager Dayton Moore said Dotel threw about 80 percent and would likely be sent out on a Minor League rehab assignment in a week to 10 days.

"We don't expect him back until probably the middle of the month at the earliest," Bell said.

Left-hander John Bale, who is out with a shoulder strain, threw one scoreless inning and allowed one hit on Monday for Double-A Wichita in his first Minor League rehab appearance. Bell said Bale threw well and without any problems.

Right-hander Scott Elarton, who had shoulder surgery last August, is scheduled to make his fourth Minor League rehab start on Tuesday with Triple-A Omaha. His pitch count will be around 90. Moore said Elarton would make at least one more Minor League start before coming off the disabled list.

Right-hander Luke Hudson made a rehab start Monday night for Triple-A Omaha and went four innings, allowing four runs on four hits, including a home run, against Memphis. he struck out seven and walked four, throwing 81 pitches, 48 for strikes.

Bannister record: Brian Bannister, who took a two-hitter into the seventh inning on Sunday and retired 14 straight during one stretch in a loss to the Mariners, said he threw more than 10 changeups.

"That's a record for me," Bannister said. "We've been working on a ton of stuff on the side in between outings. I only threw one cut fastball the whole game. We're making some huge changes in how I pitch. It's just an adjustment to the Major League level.

"I know what it takes to be successful at the Minor League level, but that doesn't do you a whole lot of good up here. The hitters are different. You have to keep them off-balance. It is really getting ahead and trying to increase the difference in the velocity between my pitches. It really did make a difference in my last outing. We also worked on throwing the curveball a couple of different speeds. That was successful. I threw the slowest curveball I ever threw to Ichiro [Suzuki] and he popped out on it."

Buck's seat: Evelyn Hurlbert of Overland Park, Kan., who was nominated by her grandson Jon Hurlbert, sat in the Buck O'Neil Legacy Seat on Monday. Evelyn has devoted here entire life to her 10 children and numerous grand- and great-grandchildren. She raised her family as a single parent and continues to volunteer her time in the community.

On deck: Angels right-hander Bartolo Colon (2-0, 1.93) and Royals right-hander Zack Greinke (1-2, 3.51) are the scheduled starting pitchers on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. CT.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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