KANSAS CITY -- Yuniesky Betancourt's return left nine players on the Royals' disabled list, but that number should drop as the month goes along.
"We're starting to get to the point where we're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel on getting a lot of our guys back, and Yuni's the first one," manager Ned Yost said.
Starter Jonathan Sanchez (left biceps tendinitis) could return after one more start for Triple-A Omaha. Reliever Everett Teaford (lower abdominal strain) pitched in game-situation batting practice on Friday and is likely to begin a rehab assignment next week.
Second baseman Chris Getz (left ribcage contusion) is taking batting practice and is also getting close to Minor League rehab assignment.
Center fielder Lorenzo Cain (torn left hip flexor) and catcher Salvador Perez (left knee surgery) are playing at the Surprise, Ariz., camp and are expected to get injury rehab assignments late next week. Catcher Manny Pina (right knee surgery) is also progressing in Arizona.
Three pitchers, Joakim Soria, Danny Duffy and Blake Wood, are out for the year because of Tommy John surgery.
Back from DL, Betancourt delivers for Royals
KANSAS CITY -- All the reports are good on infielder Yuniesky Betancourt, who returned to the Royals' active roster on Friday.
"He swung the bat real well down there in his rehab stint, his ankle's back to 100 percent and he has all his mobility back," manager Ned Yost said.
Betancourt came off the disabled list after missing 26 games with a sprained right ankle that he sustained initially in Spring Training. Yost got him back in action immediately playing second base and batting second on Friday night against the Athletics.
Betancourt went 1-for-4, but delivered an RBI double to spark a two-run first that helped the Royals earn a 2-0 win.
To make room, infielder Irving Falu was optioned to Triple-A Omaha after making a good impression in his 28-day stay filling in for Betancourt and later for Chris Getz, who also went on the disabled list. Falu, a switch-hitter, played in 12 games including five starts at second base, three at third and one at shortstop and batted .326 (14-for-43).
"He did very well for us, I'm very pleased with the job that he did up here," Yost said. "I expect we'll see Irving Falu back here in the big leagues again."
The Royals opted to keep Johnny Giavotella on the roster instead of Falu.
"Johnny's got a better bat off the bench for us right now," Yost said. "Yuni and Falu are kind of like the same players -- they're both utility guys that can play multiple positions and we've got that in Yuni. If we need to move him to third or short, we're covered there. And we like Johnny's bat from the right side late in the game."
Betancourt, also a right-handed batter, had a .280 (14-for-50) average in 15 games when he went on the DL, but was .348 (8-for-23) with runners on base. In a combined six Minor League rehab games for Northwest Arkansas and Omaha, Betancourt was 10-for-23, .435, with two homers and six RBIs.
Royals' Fischer recalls days with KC A's
KANSAS CITY -- Bill Fischer's two days as the Royals' temporary bullpen coach came at an opportune time. The Oakland A's were in town and the old Kansas City A's -- Fischer's team in 1961, '62 and '63 -- were to be honored before Saturday's game. All of which prompted some memories from Fischer, a right-handed pitcher in those days.
One of his A's managers was Hank Bauer, the former Yankee who lived in the Kansas City area until his death in 2007.
"He was a good man, he was from the old school. He told you what he thought," Fischer said. "One year I got shut out three times, 1-0, and another time, 3-0. You know what he said? 'About time you're shutting somebody out. Why are you always getting shut out?'"
One of the 1-0 losses was to Minnesota's Jack Kralick, who pitched a no-hitter. That was in 1962, during a period in which Fischer was pitching an astounding 84 1/3 consecutive innings in which he did not issue a base on balls, a record that still stands.
Fischer had impeccable control but he said: "I don't think I could do it today the way the umpires call the pitches," he said.
Well, that and the fact that today he's also 81 years old, albeit a very spry 81. He's very active as the Royals' senior pitching adviser, helping the club polish its pitching prospects.
Fischer was with the A's during Charlie Finley's ownership before he took the club off to Oakland after the 1967 season, spurring the establishment of the Royals' franchise in K.C. Among other things, Finley adorned the A's in their signature green and gold uniforms while still in Missouri.
"He lived 40 miles from Notre Dame and he loved Notre Dame. So Opening Day, we worked out in our old uniforms, then came out in our gold and green pants and shirts," Fischer said. "And they didn't put our names on the back, they put our nicknames."
Fischer, of course, was "Fish."
The A's manager in 1963 was Eddie Lopat, a longtime Yankees pitcher.
"He was forgetful, though," Fischer said. "One time we had George Alusik on the team and one day he hollered down, 'Tell George he's going to hit for the pitcher.' The guy turned and said, 'Ed, you sent him to Portland, Ore., two weeks ago.'"
The Kansas City A's played at old Municipal Stadium.
"That was a nice park. The best was '61 -- it was wide open like this [Kauffman Stadium] and in '62 Finley put chicken wire out there in left field -- in about 20 feet or so -- so we could out-homer the other team. They out-homered us about four to one," Fischer said. "And then he made the 'Pennant Porch' in right field the next year about 290 feet away, like Yankee Stadium, and had the sheep up there with the shepherd. And then he had the donkey."
Sure, the Missouri mule called "Charley O." On Saturday, fans can pose for photos with a Charley O look-alike and the first 20,000 fans at the 1:10 p.m. CT game will receive a vintage 1960 A's cap.
Meantime, Fischer will be spending his time imparting some wisdom to the young relief pitchers. He's sitting in for Royals bullpen coach Steve Foster who, in turn, is subbing for pitching coach Dave Eiland, who is attending a family graduation.
Francoeur, Paulino voted top Royals for May
KANSAS CITY -- Right fielder Jeff Francoeur and right-hander Felipe Paulino were voted the Royals' Player and Pitcher of the Month for May by Kansas City media members.
Francoeur led the club in average (.321), hits (34), and total bases (60). During an eight-game hitting streak, he was 16-for-32 (.500), with four home runs.
Paulino had a 2-1 record and 2.03 ERA, holding opponents scoreless in three of his five starts. He led the staff with 34 strikeouts in 31 innings.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.