KC@MIN: Duffy has scoreless outing in Royals' return

KANSAS CITY -- This bullpen business seems to suit Danny Duffy pretty well.

When he helped preserve Saturday's 5-4 win over the Twins with two scoreless innings, it gave him a nice set of statistics for his first foray into relief work. In three games, he has thrown 6 1/3 shutout innings with nine strikeouts against two walks and three hits.

So far Duffy has done three multiple-inning stints, but there's really no assigned role set for him.

"I'll just come in whenever they ask me to come in. I'll do whatever," Duffy said. "But I'm really enjoying where I'm at right now. I know there's going to be ups and downs, but I feel like I fit really well where I am right now."

Except for closer Greg Holland, nothing is really set. Wade Davis has been the primary eighth-inning setup man, but manager Ned Yost is looking for someone to share that duty as well.

"Once our bullpen gets going, there are really no roles," Yost said. "Anybody can pitch in any situation because they're that good, or they have been in the past."

The left-handed Duffy was a starter throughout his career, but was summoned from Omaha when injuries struck the bullpen.

"The thing that we really like about Duffy is that he's got overpowering stuff. He doesn't have to have pinpoint command because he can get through with his great stuff," Yost said. "You can't constantly be throwing fastballs down the middle, but with his slider, which is new and improved, and his ability to throw an overpowering fastball, we were going to see a lot of innings like we did [Saturday] and the time before."

It appears that Duffy's bullpen tryout might turn into something more permanent this season.

"This is all kind of new to him and we're finding out about how we can use him. Can we use him back-to-back days? We know we can use him in multiple-inning stints. So we're learning about him," Yost said. "I think he's going to be a guy that's going to be very, very durable and be able to throw back-to-back days and handle a big workload down there."

Yost: Butler may return to cleanup spot

MIN@KC: Butler doubles for first extra-base hit

KANSAS CITY -- Billy Butler is showing enough good signs at the plate that he might get back into his usual cleanup spot on Monday night at Cleveland.

Butler has hit sixth in the last four games and is 6-for-14, including two singles in Sunday's 8-3 loss. Salvador Perez has been batting fourth and has gone just 1-for-16.

"Might put him back in the fourth spot tomorrow," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Salvy's been struggling in that spot and Billy's back to swinging the bat good enough to handle that spot."

In addition to two singles, Butler also flied out deep to center in his last at-bat.

"I drove the ball in my last at-bat, it got to the track," Butler said. "It's a big park. I felt like I got it good. I'm staying through the ball, and that's four or five games I've been hitting the ball well."

Butler, now at .213 for the season, has been somewhat mystified.

"It's the longest time I've gone where I couldn't find my timing. To start out the season, it just gets magnified early when you only have 14 or 15 games to go off of. In actuality, it's a small sample size," he said. "I can't quite figure why it took so long. I didn't prepare any different. I guess it's just one of those things where every player kind of goes through it."

Butler came into this season with a career average of .298. Just two years ago, he hit .313 with 29 homers and 107 RBIs.

"I'll just get better every day. That's what my goal is," he said. "The team has confidence in me. I went into the season the four-hole hitter and that's what they want me to be, and I feel like I've earned that. I've just got to go out and do what I'm supposed to do."

Aoki on fire at Kauffman Stadium

MIN@KC: Aoki grounds an RBI single into left field

KANSAS CITY -- Early season statistics can produce some oddities.

Take right fielder Nori Aoki's home vs. away averages as the Royals left Kansas City after Sunday's 8-3 loss to the Twins.

Aoki was hitting a rousing .441 in eight games at Kauffman Stadium as opposed to only .103 in eight games on the road.

Gee, if Aoki could only play all his games at home.

"I might be able to get to where Ted Williams got," Aoki said, laughing before Sunday's game. "So maybe I can play 162 games at home."

All joking aside, Aoki likes playing in his new home ballpark.

"I feel it's just a coincidence. I just started getting hot when we started playing here and I cooled off on the road," he said. "But I really enjoy playing in Kansas City. It's a really beautiful stadium and it's a nice atmosphere here."

Aoki was just 3-for-20 (.150) on the recent journey through Minnesota and Houston. He can start working on that road average this week as the Royals have four games at Cleveland followed by three games at Baltimore.

"It'll even out, that trend can't continue," manager Ned Yost said. "And he won't hit .100 on the road."

Crown points

• Prior to Sunday's game, the Royals had an 11-13 record on Easter, with no game scheduled 22 times. This was their first Easter game at Kauffman Stadium since 2009 when they beat the Yankees, 6-4.

Bruce Chen's victory on Saturday put him just one win behind Mariano Rivera's 82 as the most by a Panamanian-born pitcher.