Grudzielanek back with a bang

Grudzielanek back with a bang

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Mark Grudzielanek got back in the Royals' lineup after an 11-day lapse and demonstrated dead legs and a home-run swing.

Grudzielanek, who'd been out with a lower back strain, played second base for six innings of Saturday's 10-inning, 3-2 loss to the San Diego Padres.

He had not played since March 10.

"What did I play then -- two games? So I really have been very limited out there. Right now, it's just continue with the swing and get my dead legs out of there and I'll be ready," Grudzielanek said.

He'd played in three games, actually, after making a belated spring debut in deference to two knee surgeries last year and his veteran status.

In the first inning against Padres right-hander Chris Young, he rapped into a double play and made a slow trek to first base.

"I felt like I had 250 pounds of cement in my legs. I just didn't want to come out of there flying down the line," he said. "I wanted to stay under control."

There was no need to run hard in his next at-bat. Grudzielanek pounded a home run to lead off the fourth inning against Young. In his last time up, he lined out to third base.

"I thought he moved OK," manager Trey Hillman said. "We checked with him after his second at-bat and he said he wanted to get one more so that's encouraging."

This is the second straight Spring Training in which Grudzielanek has been slowed by an injury. A year ago, he underwent knee surgery, but returned in time for Opening Day.

"Overall, I made progress today which was good. I needed a day like that to come back. I'll do things tomorrow. We've still got a week," he said.

Hillman said Grudzielanek will skip Sunday's trip to Tucson and go through a workout in Surprise.

Will Grudzielanek be ready for this year's opener on March 31 at Detroit?

"I think so. If it was tomorrow, probably not," he said. "But each day in these next few days is going to be important to me. I've got to get my legs underneath me and it was a nice step today."

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