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09/18/09 8:00 PM ET

Greinke's next start may be pushed back

Righty to play catch Saturday; Hughes to make first start

CHICAGO -- The prognosis on Zack Greinke's sore right pitching arm looked encouraging one day after the Royals' ace was struck by a line drive during Thursday's game against the Tigers.

Royals manager Trey Hillman said Greinke showed no ill effects other than a welt. In fact, Hillman said he considered the lined shot, which came off the bat of the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera in the fourth inning, as potentially a good thing.

"His arm, other than the spot where he took the shot, feels very good today," Hillman said. "His legs feel great. His back feels great. I made the comment to Zack, I said, 'I'm sure that has a lot to do with 77 pitches and only five ups and downs, and he said 'Yeah.'"

Greinke picked up Cabrera's liner and tossed him out for the first out of the inning. Following a meeting with Hillman and assistant athletic trainer Frank Kyte, Greinke remained in the contest, pitching through the fifth to pick up his 14th victory this season. Greinke did not allow a run, lowering his Major League-leading ERA to 2.14. His 77 pitches were the fewest in a start for him this season.

Greinke had his right arm heavily wrapped after emerging from the training room hours before Friday's series opener against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.

Hillman estimated that his Cy Young Award candidate still might be able to make three more starts this season. He had been scheduled to make his next start Tuesday against the Red Sox, but he could be pushed back to Wednesday. Greinke was set to play catch before Saturday's game in Chicago.

"We're hopeful to know [Saturday], but we don't know when he's going to pitch again," Hillman said. "It could be on his regular fifth day. I personally have a tendency to lean toward five full days off and then pitch on the sixth day, but we're not going to know until we find out more how he comes back [Saturday]."

In other injury news, Royals reliever Bruce Chen said his mildly strained left oblique was feeling better Friday. Chen relieved Greinke during Thursday's game, but injured himself with two outs in the seventh inning in the middle of an at-bat with Curtis Granderson.

Chen said he did not expect to throw on Friday or Saturday but could be good to throw for the series finale with Chicago on Sunday.

"The next 48 hours are going to be very important,' Chen said. "But it feels much better than yesterday, and if tomorrow feels better, keeps progressing, then I think I've got a good chance."

Hillman also announced that right-hander Kyle Davies would have his start Saturday against the White Sox scratched because of a mild oblique issue. Davies had won his past four decisions to improve to 8-9 and lower his season ERA to 5.27.

"Kyle Davies is having more soreness than we're comfortable with for him to pitch [Saturday]," Hillman said. "He's had it for a couple days. ... I think he will definitely pitch again, and I think he'll get at least two more starts, but we're going to push him back."

In Davies' place, rookie southpaw Dusty Hughes will make his first Major League start. Hughes had made four relief appearances for the Royals, allowing three runs in eight innings for a 3.38 ERA.

Jesse Temple is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.