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That's the theme when it comes to injuries this early in the season: Take care of it now so it doesn't become a yearlong problem.
"You've got to look at the big picture," Kansas City manager Trey Hillman said.
The Royals placed right-hander Gil Meche and infielders Alex Gordon and Josh Fields on the DL on Saturday. They also could be without switch-hitting infielder Alberto Callaspo (irritation in his right side), who is iffy for one of opening day's juiciest pitching matchups -- AL Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke against Detroit ace Justin Verlander.
"If you really wanted to force the decision and roll the dice, I think it would be a bad decision on my part to start him against Verlander, hitting left-handed on opening day," Hillman said of Collaspo, his third-string third baseman behind Gordon and Fields.
There's no debating for Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who will begin the year with 6-foot-11 Jon Rauch serving as closer after Joe Nathan was shelved for the season following right elbow surgery. Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain and Jose Mijares also could help out if Rauch falters.
Minnesota is at the Los Angeles Angels for opening day in a matchup of defending division champions, and Gardenhire seems as anxious as anyone to see how the closer situation works out.
"Whether they can close or not, you're right there with me," Gardenhire said. "We're going to be sitting in the seats watching them pitch. Hopefully they can handle the situations. I have confidence in them and faith in them, but ninth inning's different. We'll have to see how they do."
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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