MLB

Royals C Kendall cleared to begin throwing

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SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP)

Kansas City Royals catcher Jason Kendall began a light throwing program Wednesday as he starts his return from major shoulder surgery.

Kendall said he intends to be behind the plate on opening day. Royals manager Ned Yost said that was a bit optimistic

The 36-year-old Kendall received the OK to start tossing and swinging the bat a day after being examined by a doctor in Los Angeles. He had extensive tears in his rotator cuff and had surgery in September.

Kendall hit .256 in 118 games last season. He has caught 2,025 games, fifth most in major league history.

The Royals open the season March 31 against the Los Angeles Angels and Kendall plans on playing.

''Is that going to happen? I have no idea,'' Kendall said Wednesday at spring training. ''But I will do anything and everything I can to be there. If it's not going to be March 31, then shortly after that. I'm not going to be stupid about it, but I'm not going to say that I can't. So right now I'm still looking for opening day.

''I'm way ahead of the game right now as far as I'm where at. I'm still not going to rush it,'' he said.

Yost wasn't sure Kendall would be ready by the end of March.

''That's a little unrealistic, but he's an exceptional person in terms of things like that,'' Yost said. ''I would be surprised if he's ready by opening day because of the extent of the injury and the extended amount of rehab in something involved in something like that. But if anybody can do it, he could do it. We'll just take it day-by-day. We're not going to push this thing.''

''We have to do it right and take it step-by-step,'' he said. ''If we do, do it right, he's got another three, four, five years he could play.''

Kendall said he was surprised to see the extent of his injury. An MRI exam showed three tears in his rotator cuff.

''I just figured I needed a couple of weeks off,'' Kendall said. ''I was wrong. I thought it was something that would go away with rest. I did a good job on it. I definitely didn't do it half way.

''I did a pretty good number on it. It was complete mashed potatoes. It's fixed now. I'm excited. It's probably going to be stronger than it was before. I'm on the right path.''

Kendall said he was playing catch with his 6-year-old son last August and throwing left-handed because of the pain in his right shoulder. His son asked him to throw right-handed ''like you do in games'' and that is when Kendall realized he needed a MRI on the aching shoulder.

Brayan Pena and rookie Lucas May are expected to do the bulk of the catching until Kendall returns.

''We should all be ecstatic,'' Yost said. ''He's way ahead of schedule on it. His doctor was blown away when he saw how far he was. He's making great progress. We just continue to go step-by-step and get him back into playing shape.

''When we were talking today, he goes, 'When I get healthy.' I said, 'Stop right there, you're healthy. We've just got to get you back into playing shape. For the first time in a long time you're healthy. Your muscles are all intact. We just have to rebuild the strength and just get to get you back into playing shape,''' Yost said.

Tagged: Royals, Jason Kendall

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