The Kansas City Royals entered a weekend series with the Seattle Mariners a half of a game ahead of the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central. At 39-33, the Royals have been balance offensively and on the mound, 14th in scoring and 14th in team ERA. For the Royals to continue to win, they will need solid play across the board and contributions from eventually returning players Bruce Chen and Danny Valencia.
Our own Rose Ingberman reported on June 9 that Chen made his second rehab start and allowed four runs, 10 hits and struck out one, throwing 56 pitches in four innings.
Chen was much improved in his latest rehab outing, as reported by Dick Kaegel of MLB.com.Chen allowed only two earned runs and three hits in 5 1/3 innings against Albuquerque. He struck out 11 and threw 56 of his 87 pitches for strikes. Chen appears to be ready to return and will likely be used in relief upon his return.
Chen, a 16-year Major League veteran, has pitched for the Braves, Phillies, Mets, Reds, Red Sox, Astros, Orioles, Rangers and Royals. He's struggled to a 1-2 record with a 7.45 ERA. Chen has a career record of 81-78 with a 4.53 ERA.
Aoki was not in the Royals' starting lineup on Wednesday against the Tigers. He was held out as a precaution, with Lorenzo Cain starting in right field and Jarrod Dyson in center. Aoki was back in the lineup on Thursday and went 2-for-4 with a run scored. But Aoki was not in the lineup on Friday, either getting a day off or still having some issues with the groin discomfort which caused him to be removed early from Tuesday's game.
As for Valencia, he had a successful first rehab appearance for Triple-A Omaha. Coming back from a left hand strain, Valencia had a home run, single and a walk. Valencia, in his fifth Major League season, is batting .246 with a home run and seven RBI in 69 at bats this season.
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