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Royals’ Bruce Chen scratched from Thursday start

A minor ailment bothering veteran lefty Bruce Chen has reconfigured the Royals’ starting rotation.

With Chen nursing a tight left glute muscle, manager Ned Yost scratched him from his start on Thursday at Minute Maid Park. In his place, he moved up James Shields to replace Chen and tabbed Jason Vargas to start on Friday. Chen will attempt to return to the mound on Saturday when the team plays host to Minnesota.

In explaining the machinations, Yost mentioned how both Shields and Vargas were working with an extra day of rest thanks to a steady stream of off days. The new schedule “keeps Shields on his regular five days’ (rest),” Yost said. “It keeps Vargas on his regular five days’ (rest). And it gives Bruce a couple of extra days to get through this stiffness.”

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By ANDY McCULLOUGH. 10 minutes ago

Tonight’s Royals-Astros lineups

The Royals look to start a winning streak against the Astros on Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park. The game begins at 7:10 p.m., and can be seen on Fox Sports Kansas City.

Here are the lineups as Jeremy Guthrie (2-0, 3.55 ERA) faces Dallas Keuchel (1-1, 3.75 ERA);

Royals (5-7)

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By ANDY McCULLOUGH. 33 minutes ago

Naturals swept in a doubleheader

The math was ugly for Class AA Northwest Arkansas on Tuesday: 20 innings of baseball, one run and two losses.

After collecting one hit in a 1-0, seven-inning loss to Midland in the opener (Justin Trapp’s single in the fifth inning was the lone hit), the Naturals gave up five in the 13th inning of a 6-1 loss in the nightcap.

Naturals starter Tim Melville pitched one-hit ball in five innings in the second game with three walks and five strikeouts. Noel Arguelles gave up a run in the 11th, but Cheslor Cuthbert’s sacrifice fly scored Angel Franco to tie the game in the bottom of the frame.

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By PETE GRATHOFF. 6 hours ago

Royals among teams expressing interest in free-agent reliever Joel Hanrahan

As their big-league bullpen flounders in the early weeks of the season, the Royals are keeping their eyes peeled for external upgrades. The team will send a representative to two-time All-Star closer Joel Hanrahan’s showcase for teams on Thursday, according to people with knowledge of the situation.

Hanranhan, the 32-year-old right-hander who starred for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the past, underwent Tommy John surgery in May. He is still in the process of rehabilitating. The team has tracked him throughout the process, and appreciates his past success.

From 2010 to 2012, Hanrahan saved 82 games with a 2.73 ERA. He struck out 10.4 batters per nine and posted a 2.92 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He injured himself after being traded to Boston after the 2012 season.

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By ANDY MCCULLOUGH. 22 hours ago

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