© 2008 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

09/05/08 7:55 PM ET

Gordon starts taking ground balls

Game return remains undetermined; Maier targeting road trip

KANSAS CITY -- Third baseman Alex Gordon was back on the field Friday, but when and if he'll return in a game this season is uncertain.

Gordon took ground balls at third base before the Royals took batting practice for their game against Cleveland. He has been on the disabled list since Aug. 23 with a torn flexor muscle in his right hip.

"The MRI update from yesterday shows there is healing going on," manager Trey Hillman said. "To what degree, it's tough to tell, but there is healing, and he was froggy to get out and do something. So we just had controlled ground balls. No hitting yet, though."

No throwing yet, either. Gordon just fielded the grounders and rolled the balls away.

"We don't want to do anything too fast," Hillman said. "Just give him a chance to get acclimated, back out there doing some squatting and some things he hasn't done, and take it from there."

Will Gordon be able to play before the season ends on Sept. 28?

"Couldn't tell you," Hillman said. "[I'm] hopeful, but don't know."

Outfielder Mitch Maier, struck in the face by a pitch, is still out, too, but he might be back near the end of next weekend's series at Cleveland.

"We're hopeful that maybe by the end of the Cleveland series on the road [he'll be playing]. He's feeling fine, but we've got to get him to the point where there's enough healing to where we're comfortable to him actually seeing some pitching," Hillman said.

It was at Progressive Field that Maier was hit under the right eye on Aug. 20, causing three fractures and extensive swelling. Except for redness in his right eye, Maier seems OK now.

"Hopefully, I'll be back on the road trip, at Minnesota or Cleveland," he said.

Maier's been hitting off the tee and soft tosses. Within a day or two, he's expected to face live pitching in practice for the first time.

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