Notes: LaRue coming back Sunday
Bell says he will likely use two catchers throughout season
KANSAS CITY -- Jason LaRue (left clavicle contusion), is eligible to come off the disabled list on Sunday and will be activated, manager Buddy Bell said before Friday's game against the Mariners. Bell said LaRue and John Buck will catch certain pitchers.
"I don't like doing this, but as we sit here today, that is what we intend do to," Bell said. "I haven't talked to [pitching coach Bob McClure] about this, but I have to see how we are going to set it up. LaRue is going to get some time, but Johnny will more than likely get most of it."
LaRue, who has been on the disabled list since May 11, is 0-for-8 in three rehab games for Triple-A Omaha. Overall, he is batting .104 in 19 games and 48 at-bats this season, but has thrown out 33.3 percent of runners stealing, a better mark than Buck (14.3 percent). The pair split time in the early part of the season, but Buck (team-leading eight homers) was seeing more playing time before LaRue was hurt. Paul Phillips will be sent back to the Minors when LaRue is recalled.
Brown out: Emil Brown missed his second start with back spasms on Friday night. Shane Costa started in left field in Brown's place.
"It's OK, but I don't know if he is available [Friday] or not," Bell said. "We are waiting to see if he can be available [Saturday] or Sunday."
Bell said Brown will not be put on the 15-day disabled list.
"It's not chronic, but it is something that he has dealt with before and it usually doesn't take him that long to get through it," Bell said.
Riske excelling: After a poor April, David Riske has become one of the best relievers in baseball during May. Riske posted a 6.97 ERA in April, but hasn't been scored upon in 12 appearances this month.
The veteran right-hander encounters the same problem every year, but fixes it by watching video.
"My arm slot was off a little bit earlier in the year and I just kind of found it," he said. "It was out a little bit and when it is out, the hitters pick it up really easily. When it is going good, it is all off deception and it's hard for them to pick up the ball."
In his career, Riske has posted a 5.40 ERA in the season's first month, nearly two runs higher than his second-worst month (September, 3.43).
"When it doesn't feel right for awhile, then I can kind of look for it and try to figure out where it feels right and get that feeling back," he said. "I go through it every single year and feel something -- I don't know whether I get tired after Spring Training or what it is, but I will lose it and then I will find it again."
Team better in pressure situations: Earlier this season, general manager Dayton Moore and Bell said the offense needed to improve with runners with scoring position. Entering Friday night, the Royals ranked fifth in the American League in on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) with runners in scoring position (.777).
"I think so," Bell said when asked if the team is better in such situations. "We have had more opportunities, and the more opportunities you have with runners in scoring position, obviously, the more experience you have at it. If you get one or two executions, you get some confidence with guys in scoring position and you get it done, it makes things easier and you are a lot more relaxed. But I still think we need to do better, I really do."
Bell said the team needs to focus on putting the ball in play in RBI chances. The team ranks third in the American League in most strikeouts (96) in RISP situations.
"For whatever reason, [striking out] has just become OK," Bell said. "You don't want to go up there worrying about striking out, but when you get to two strikes, you should still battle your way through the at-bat. I think we have done a better job at that and getting after the first couple pitches of an at-bat. We are ready to hit every pitch, and I think that has more to do with it than anything."
O'Neil seat: Larry Moore of Kansas City, Mo., sat in the Buck O'Neil Legacy Seat on Friday night. Moore, the longtime anchor for KMBC-TV news, is involved in volunteer and fundraising efforts for many organizations.
Royals Rundown: Triple-A Omaha won a doubleheader against Oklahoma, 3-2 and 10-6. Craig Brazell continued his hot hitting with two homers in Game 2. Billy Butler also homered in the second game. ... Double-A Wichita lost, 11-4, to Frisco. Carlos Rosa lasted just four outs and allowed seven runs. ... Class A Wilmington had Thursday off. ...Class A Burlington won, 3-2, over Great Lakes. Harold Mozingo pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings for the victory.
Players of the day: Mozingo and Brazell. Mozingo, a sixth-round pick in 2006, tossed his first scoreless start since April 17 and stands at 3-5 with a 4.18 ERA for the season. Brazell has simply been incredible this season. He is scorching Triple-A pitching, batting .391 with 11 homers and 21 RBIs in his first 64 at-bats. Brazell, a fifth-round pick of the Mets in 1998, has six homers and 11 RBIs in his last four games.
Coming up: Brian Bannister (0-2, 4.39 ERA) tries for his first win as a Royal against the Mariners' Cha Seung Baek (1-2, 5.50 ERA). First pitch is set for 6:10 p.m. CT.
Conor Nicholl is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.