WASHINGTON -- Ned Yost will match wits with Cardinals manager Tony La Russa this weekend in the all-Missouri Interleague series at Kauffman Stadium. It's something that Yost often did in his time as manager of the Milwaukee Brewers, and he considers La Russa a sharp adversary.
"I never understood situations when he managed and they may be ahead, 6-1, in the seventh and there'd be two outs and nobody on and he'd call time out and bring a lefty in," Yost said.
"And I'm like, 'What's he doing?' But I got great insight into him when he invited me to be one of his coaches for the All-Star Game. What he does is he literally scripts the game in his mind before the game even starts."
Yost observed that La Russa rarely deviates from his script, bringing in a pitcher as planned here or using a pinch-hitter as planned there.
"It's all scripted in his mind and more times than not, it plays out. But he has that ability to do it," Yost said. "I can sit here and try to script the game all out and it never works out that way. I've got to try to work two innings ahead instead of nine innings like he can do."
Hochevar, Meche throwing off flat ground
WASHINGTON -- There's good news on both of the Royals' starting pitchers on the 15-day disabled list.
Luke Hochevar, out since June 12 with a right elbow sprain, is throwing on flat ground from 90 to 100 feet with no problems, but he is not back on the mound yet.
When might he return?
"I don't know yet," Hochevar said. "Up to this point, everything has been going well. I don't have any pain -- I never really had pain-pain, but the area I was feeling is just kind of muscle tightness now. We just got to work through that and make sure it just stays that and we don't fire anything back up."
Gil Meche also threw from flat ground and off the mound on Wednesday. He's been out since May 26 with right shoulder bursitis.
"He feels better, still feels it just a little bit when he's on the mound. He feels absolutely nothing when he's on flat ground. He's still making progress," manager Ned Yost said.
Meche is not likely to be back until after the All-Star break in mid-July.
"Realistically speaking, yes," Yost said.
Peralta finds new life with Nationals
WASHINGTON -- Joel Peralta, who pitched for three years with the Royals, re-emerged in the Majors during the current series with the Nationals.
Released by the Royals at the end of Spring Training in 2009, he signed with Colorado and was called up by the Rockies last May.
"I was doing really, really good and I was the setup man for a couple of months. It was my best time ever and they gave me a great chance to be there," Peralta said.
But he struggled at the end of last season and became a free agent. He signed with Washington for 2010 and was sent to Triple-A Syracuse, where he piled up impressive numbers as the closer -- 20 saves in 20 opportunities, a 1.08 ERA and 38 strikeouts with only seven walks in 33 1/3 innings.
"I've been trying to focus a little more on pitching down and in more than before, and that's been helping me," Peralta said. "But the velocity's is just the same."
He made his Nationals debut on Tuesday night against the Royals and got Jose Guillen to rap into an inning-ending double play.
Now that Peralta is in the National League, he might have a chance to hit. After all, he had a memorable two-run double for the Royals on May 20, 2007, in an Interleague game at Colorado. That hit came in the 12th inning, as the Royals broke a 5-5 tie and Peralta nailed down the victory with a scoreless inning in a 10-5 win.
"I'll tell you what," he said, grinning, "I hope I don't get a chance to hit, because I don't want to mess up that 1-for-1 and that 1.000 average in my career."
Peralta, 34, originally signed as an infielder, but he doesn't claim to be a good hitter.
"I think that was a lucky shot," he said. "Some guys said I closed my eyes."
Royals 'getting closer' to inking Colon
WASHINGTON -- Royals general manager Dayton Moore denied a report on Wednesday that the club has signed its first-round Draft choice, shortstop Christian Colon, but said through a spokesman that the two sides "were getting closer."
Keith Law reported on ESPN.com's draft Twitter feed that Colon had agreed to a deal for a $2.8 million bonus. But Moore said the sides are still talking, and Colon cannot be signed until he passes a physical examination.
Colon is represented by agent Scott Boras.
A product of Cal State-Fullerton, Colon was the fourth overall selection in the June 7 First-Year Player Draft. In 64 games for the Titans this year, he batted .358 with 17 home runs and 68 RBIs.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.