KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It was hard to miss Alex Rios’ smile Friday. Because he sure as heck doesn’t miss the pain.
"I’m excited that I’m really close," the Kansas City Royals right fielder said before the opener of the Royals-Cardinals series Friday. "I’m feeling really good out there swinging the bat."
The 34-year-old Rios, who has been on the disabled list since April 14 because of a broken bone in his left hand, said he expects to start a rehabilitation assignment sometime within the next week, although he’s not sure exactly when — or where.
"I’ve been getting swings, (and it) feels better every day," said Rios, who took batting practice Tuesday and is expected to return to the active roster early next month.
The veteran outfielder was hitting .321 with a home run and eight RBIs in seven games before getting struck on the hand by a pitch from Minnesota reliever J.R. Graham.
Rios expects that he’ll still have to deal with some discomfort going forward, but that he’s also encouraged by the progress of the past few days.
"When I get my strength back," Rios said, "that’s when it’s going to happen."