KANSAS CITY -- Bruce Chen saw his first action on the mound since a bulging disc in the Royals starter's back forced him to the disabled list.
Chen threw a 16-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday morning.
"It felt good, I feel like I'm making a lot of progress and I'm just very happy about how everything's going, and I'm very grateful to the medical staff for guiding me through this process and getting me better to the point where I can throw in front of the mound," Chen said.
Chen said he did not know when he would make a rehab start.
"We haven't discussed [that]," Chen said. "Once I start throwing a couples sides and everything goes well, then maybe we can start thinking about what's the next plan."
Danny Duffy is expected to make Chen's scheduled start on Saturday against the Orioles.
"I didn't want to push it," Chen said. "This is the first time throwing from the mound, and the best thing is to do things that don't irritate the nerve."
Chen logged a 7.45 ERA in his first four starts this season.
Yost looking for starters to give bullpen relief
KANSAS CITY -- For the moment, Royals manager Ned Yost is operating with 11 pitchers instead of the preferred 12. And that could change at any moment.
"It just takes one day to throw everything into havoc," Yost said. "You have to keep your bullpen balanced in their workload. And if it gets unbalanced, it creates problems that linger for four or five days. I want to try to avoid that if I can."
For the last two days, Yost had left-hander Danny Duffy available as his seventh bullpen pitcher to face the Rockies but, really, only in an emergency. Duffy will start Saturday night's game against the Orioles so that luxury disappears as of Thursday.
As long as Yost's starting pitchers give him a good six or seven innings, he should be OK.
"I don't need to make a move right now. Will I have to tomorrow? I don't know, we'll see what happens today," Yost said before Wednesday's game.
"I could use up a bunch of pitching. If I don't, then I won't have to make a roster move tomorrow. And our starters have been doing pretty good. We've been keeping our balance in the 'pen pretty good."
A hurry-up call to Triple-A Omaha wouldn't involve much travel for a pitcher because the Storm Chasers are at Memphis and then Nashville over the next eight days. Even if they were on the West Coast, though, no problem.
"We pre-think, pre-plan all this stuff," Yost said. "If something happens, we'll have a guy in tomorrow. I'm not going to need a guy here in 15 minutes. Everything is planned out."
Shields gets extra work in win over Rockies
KANSAS CITY -- If it hadn't been for Carlos Gonzalez and Jordan Pacheco, the pitch count for the Royals' James Shields would have been considerably lower in his 5-1 victory on Tuesday night.
"Gonzalez and Pacheco both had great at-bats, they both fouled off a bunch of pitches," Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Indeed. Gonzalez had a 14-pitch at-bat that included 10 foul balls in the second inning before he singled.
"I threw him some really good pitches, 3-2 right there, and he was just fighting it off. He ended up getting me at the end and I'm just glad I didn't walk him," Shields said.
Shields had no walks in the game.
In the third inning, Pacheco had a 10-pitch at-bat in which he fouled off six pitches before grounding out. So he and Gonzalez accounted for 24 of Shields' total of 95 pitches, a number that kept him from coming out for the eighth inning.
Hall of Famer Luke Appling, White Sox shortstop from 1930 to 1950, was famous for fouling off pitches intentionally. He and Yost had worked together with the Braves.
"He said he could do it on purpose," Yost said. "He got mad at the owner one time because he felt he was a tightwad and he said, 'I'll show you,' and he fouled off like 20 in the stands. That was his story anyway."
And those were the days when owners counted baseballs like gold, long before they were routinely thrown into the stands as they are now.
Crow staying stingy against opposing hitters
KANSAS CITY -- On Sept. 6, 2013, Tigers catcher Alex Avila lined a fastball from Royals reliever Aaron Crow down the right-field line to plate a run.
Since that game, Crow had not allowed an earned run with an ERA of 0.00 through 16 innings this season entering Wednesday's series finale with the Rockies. Crow pitched a scoreless ninth inning in the Royals' 5-1 win over the Rockies on Tuesday.
"I think I'm just able to get weak contact early in the count and that's helped me a lot," Crow said. "I'm not throwing very many pitches and that's making me stay fresh if I have to throw two, three, four times in a week, so I feel good every time out."
Crow leads Kansas City with 18 appearances, and he possesses the only sub-1.00 WHIP (0.88) on the staff.
"I'm just getting guys to miss the barrel, and the popups and weak ground balls is what's really been working for me," Crow said.
Despite his unblemished ERA, Crow has not been perfect. Three unearned runs have scored under his watch, and five of the seven runners he's inherited thus far crossed home plate.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. Jackson Alexander is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.