After two-month hiatus, Kennedy returns as Royals go for series win over Twins

Nearly two months after he went on the disabled list with a strained left oblique, Ian Kennedy will return to the mound Sunday when the Kansas City Royals wrap up a three-game series with the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.

Kennedy was off to a rough start before the injury, posting a 1-8 record and 5.13 ERA through his first 18 turns. His best outing came in mid-June, when he held the Cincinnati Reds scoreless for eight innings while scattering three hits with five strikeouts.

His last big league start came against the Twins in Minnesota on July 10.

Kennedy made two rehab starts in the last two weeks and was put back in the rotation when manager Ned Yost decided to go with a six-man staff after Danny Duffy was lost for the season to a shoulder injury.

“I’m gonna keep everybody on line,” Yost said Saturday. “That’s why we’re going to a sixth (starter), just giving everybody a little bit of an extra break. We won’t have one for just about the rest of the year. We’ve got one more off-day. We’ve gotta run the rest of the month without an off-day, really.”

Twins starter Chase DeJong returns to the majors Sunday for his first start in a Minnesota uniform. The right-hander, acquired from Seattle in exchange for veteran reliever Zach Duke posted a 6.35 ERA in 28 1/3 innings in seven outings for the Mariners last season, including four starts.

He made 21 starts for Double-A Arkansas before the deal, posting a 3.80 ERA. The Twins bumped him up to Triple-A, where he struck out 34, walked only 12 and had a 3.29 ERA in 39 1/3 innings.

The Twins promoted him Tuesday, a day after he allowed just a run over five innings of his last minor league start.

“He’s got big-league time,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “He came over and pitched well for us during his time in Rochester. It’s just one of those things where we’re in a position to take a look at some guys that potentially might impact our future on the pitching staff. Wanted to give him an opportunity to come up here and get acclimated to the environment of this team and the players as well as to get a chance to pitch a little bit.”

Minnesota will go into the finale still missing its corner outfielders.

An MRI on third baseman Miguel Sano‘s left knee showed no structural damage after he injured it sliding into second base earlier this week at Texas. The team is hoping he can resume baseball activities Sunday, but will need more time before he can rejoin the lineup.

“There’s no damage in there,” Molitor said. “Ligaments, tendons, meniscus — everything looks good. It’s just a matter of him getting to a point where he feels like he can go out there and try to do some things.”

First baseman Tyler Austin has been out with back soreness. Molitor said the earliest he could return would be Monday, when the Twins open a three-game series against Austin’s former team, the Yankees.