By Jim Fryar

Globe Sports Editor

Buddy Bell's short tirade Tuesday night is entirely understandable.

It's tough enough just trying to watch the Kansas City Royals attempt to play baseball. Just imagine trying to be the manager of this group of misfits!

Bell, after a 4-1 loss to Detroit, held a press conference timed at 54 seconds. He essentially said: "Take my quotes from last night's game. They still apply to this one. We can't hit."

Bell, a reasonable person and a veteran major leaguer, can't explain Kansas City predicament. He's obviously tired of trying.

The Royals, coming off an awful April, appear bound for a miserable May.

There's no relief in sight. Plus no hitting, very little effective starting pitching and scant help in the upper minor leagues.

In addition, there's been a dark cloud hanging over Kauffman Stadium. When Kansas City jumped ahead 6-1 Saturday night, with Reggie Sanders belting a first-inning grand slam, that cloud opened up and the game was rained out.

Following the two-game debacle in Detroit, Kansas City has a 5-19 record. The Royals, entering a series at Minnesota, remain winless in 11 road games.

It shapes up as another long, hot, slow summer in Kansas City. Look for Bell to bail, and soon. That maybe the only way for him to keep his sanity.

Don't blame the manager. As limited as they are talent-wise, the Royals have also been struck with a series of injuries and other misfortunes they can ill afford.

Zack Greinke left the club early in spring training with "personal issues." Greinke, two years removed from being one of the most promising young starters in baseball, has returned to work with the club in extended spring training. Any positive contribution from Greinke this season would be an unexpected bonus.

Closer Mike MacDougal remains on the 60-day disabled list and may not return until mid-June. MacDougal's absence has thrown the Royals' bullpen into disarray.

That's the bullpen which was the strength of a very bad team last summer.

Starters Joe Mays and Mark Redman, picked up during the offseason to "solidify" the rotation, look more like heavy blocks attached to the ankles. They're a combined 0-5 with a plus-9.00 ERA.

In all fairness, Scott Elarton (a third off-season acquisition as a starter) has throw better than his record (0-4) indicates. But when you fire the hitting coach a month into the season, it's a pretty good indication the offense isn't providing much support.

That offense? It's been pretty offensive.

Most major-league teams would have taken stock of the lack of production last summer by catcher John Buck and third baseman Mark Teahen and sent them packing. The Royals, unwilling to admit both players were rushed into starting jobs for the lack of better options, still have both Buck and Teahen in the lineup.

And, guess what? They're still not producing.

Teahen, through Tuesday, was batting .211, or 31 points higher than Buck. The option behind the plate is Paul Bako, who's belting away at an .095 clip. The primary option at third base is first-year player Alex Gordon, who's off to a successful start at Double-A Wichita and doesn't need to be rushed.

Then there's the matter of complete bad luck.

Designated hitter Mike Sweeney is hurt and will likely go on the disabled list again. Sweeney's been hurt so many times that there's serious talk of changing his position listing to DL.

Sweeney is among the most dangerous hitters in the game when he's healthy, so the fact that he's carrying a .176 average is a good indication something has been wrong.

The real problem has been center field. Starter David DeJesus is sidelined with a hamstring injury and backup Shane Costa, who battled his way into a job with a strong spring showing, now has a similar injury.

Utility player Esteban German, who's hitting an even .500 in limited action, took over in center until he caught a fly ball flush in the mouth on Sunday. Don't look for German to return to center anytime soon.

That leaves fourth option Kerry Robinson, a former Cardinal who was off to a blazing start at Triple-A Omaha, as the regular center fielder.

Second baseman Mark Grudzielanek and Sanders are doing their part offensively. So was Costa, until the hamstring injury.

There are no easy answers when an entire team goes into a slump, but Bell is obviously running out of time and patience. Welcome to the club, Buddy.

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