BAL@KC: Paulino hurls seven shutout frames vs. O's

KANSAS CITY -- Royals right-hander Felipe Paulino threw a two-inning simulated game on Thursday as he continues to work through shoulder soreness.

Paulino, who has yet to make his return from last season's Tommy John surgery, made one rehabilitation start with Double-A Northwest Arkansas before coming to Kansas City to meet with team doctors about back stiffness.

"He threw the ball well," manager Ned Yost said. "Good zip on his fastball, good breaking ball. Command was a little inconsistent like you would expect it to be, but he threw the ball well."

Yost said the club will see how Paulino's feeling on Friday, but the tentative plan would send him to Arizona on Monday for a three-inning simulated game and then to Northwest Arkansas for rehab work.

Hosmer thankful for Brett's influence in dugout

BAL@KC: Hosmer gives Royals early lead with homer

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals' locker room fell silent and players gathered around the TV to watch George Brett's farewell news conference that was taking place down the hallway.

The Hall of Famer resigned as interim hitting coach on Thursday to return to his former position as vice president of baseball operations.

"As a baseball player myself, to say I took part in the same dugout as George, is something I know my dad's jealous of," first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "We all enjoyed the time he spent with us. We were hoping he'd stick around, but George has got stuff he needs to do."

Pedro Grifol, who was previously a special assignments coach, is the now the club's hitting coach.

Brett and Grifol were hired on May 30 when the Royals were 21-29. Since then, they've gone 26-22 and a pair of sluggers have heated up.

Mike Moustakas was batting just .187 (28-for-150) in the first two months, but during Brett's time, the third baseman hit .266 (38-for-143). Hosmer was batting .262 (45-for-172) with nine extra-base hits and one home run before May 30 and shot up to .309 (60-for-194) with 22 extra-base hits and 10 home runs during Brett and Grifol's tenure.

While Grifol handled most of the technical work like going over video and designing personalized drills, Hosmer said Brett's biggest influence came in plate approach and attitude.

"When George gets in there, he's so competitive and all he wants to do is win," Hosmer said. "When you're around a guy like George and he's acting like that in the dugout it gets you fired up."

Brett said he plans to continue throwing batting practice before home games, but will sit in an upstairs suite with general manager Dayton Moore after first pitch.

"He's expressed to us all that he's a phone call away and if we ever need anything, can always count on him," Hosmer said. "It's pretty cool having someone in your corner like that."

Fletcher first to hit three homers for Naturals

Top Prospects: Brian Fletcher, 1B/OF, Royals

KANSAS CITY -- Double-A outfielder Brian Fletcher recorded the first three-home run game in Northwest Arkansas Naturals' history during an 11-inning, 10-8 victory against Arkansas on Wednesday.

The game was played over two days after being delayed in the 10th inning on Tuesday by rain, but Fletcher went 5-for-6 with four runs and five RBIs, including a walk-off two-run homer in the 11th inning. His first two homers were in the first and fifth innings.

Fletcher, ranked as the Royals' No. 17 prospect by MLB.com, followed that performance by going 2-for-5 with a double in Northwest Arkansas' 7-0 victory against Arkansas in Wednesday night's regularly scheduled game. He's hit in five straight games with a .542 average (11-for-21) with six runs, two doubles, three homers and eight RBIs.