After getting swept in a three-game series at Target Field last weekend, the Royals will be looking to turn the tables on the Twins when they host a three-game set at Kauffman Stadium that begins Friday night.
The Royals adjusted their rotation for the series, with Bruce Chen experiencing back stiffness early in the week. Left-hander Jason Vargas will be pushed up a day to start on normal rest Friday, while Chen will start Saturday and right-hander Yordano Ventura will start Sunday.
The Twins counter with Ricky Nolasco on Friday, and he'll be followed in the rotation by fellow right-handers Kevin Correia and Phil Hughes.
Nolasco, who joined the Twins on a four-year, $49 million this offseason, is coming off his best start of the season, as he tossed eight strong innings against Kansas City on Saturday. He gave up just one run on five hits to pick up his first win of the season.
"I just thought I commanded the fastball a little better," Nolasco said. "That's where it all started -- just getting on top of the ball a little bit better and keeping it down."
The Twins are hoping for a similar outing from Nolasco, who has a 5.50 ERA through three starts this season. Nolasco said he expects to be much better as the season goes along, and he was pleased with the progress made in his last start.
"I wish I could say I'm going to go eight every time, but it's something at this level that's very difficult," Nolasco said. "I had two bad starts, but at the same time, my mentality is I can still do something right. You have to stay level-leaded and be the same guy the whole time. Your teammates will appreciate you a little more, too."
Vargas, meanwhile, is off to a hot start with the Royals after joining the team on four-year, $32 million deal this offseason. The lefty has a 1.64 ERA through three starts but was saddled with a no-decision in his outing against the Twins on Sunday.
He went seven innings, giving up two runs on five hits, including a two-run homer to Josmil Pinto. He'll be pitching on regular rest after being moved up a day and said he's fine with the change in plans.
"It doesn't bother me at all," Vargas said. "I really didn't put too much thought into it. It's just how it works out. Bruce needed [an extra] day. It worked out we're all on regular rest now. You just make an adjustment, pitch on the day you're supposed to and move on."
Twins: Bartlett begins rehab assignment
Utility man Jason Bartlett, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained left foot, officially began his rehab assignment with Class A Advanced Fort Myers on Thursday. Bartlett, who sprained his ankle sliding into home on April 6 and was placed on the DL the next day, had already been playing in extended spring games before joining Fort Myers. There's still no official timetable for his return.
"I think he needs at-bats," Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said. "We'll play it by ear. We have 20 days, but I'm not sure if we'll use them all or not. But he feels good and feels healthy, and is ready to play in games with the Miracle. We'd also like to get him to [Triple-A] Rochester at some point."
Royals: Cain placed on 15-day disable list
Kansas City placed center fielder Lorenzo Cain on the 15-day disabled list Thursday with a left groin strain, after Cain was injured trying to beat out a grounder in Wednesday night's win over the Astros. Left-hander Justin Marks was recalled from Triple-A Omaha to take his place on the roster.
"I took a hit [Wednesday] night," Cain said. "When I was trying to stretch out for the base, I kind of felt it. I hate to go through another DL, but I'll take two weeks to get healthy, work hard and get back on the field."
• The Twins are coming off a split doubleheader, as they played two games against the Blue Jays on Thursday after Wednesday's game was postponed due to weather. The Twins swept the doubleheader and ended their nine-game homestand going 5-4.
• Brian Dozier launched his fifth homer of the year in the second game of Thursday's doubleheader for the Twins. Dozier leads the Twins in homers this season and also led the club with 18 last year.
• Chris Colabello is off to a hot start for the Twins, as he enters the series leading the American League in RBIs with 18, and the Majors in doubles with nine.
• The Royals went 15-4 against the Twins last season, including a 7-2 mark at Kauffman Stadium. They're also coming off a three-game sweep of the Astros.
• Billy Butler was moved down from his usual spot as the cleanup hitter for the Royals against the Astros on Thursday night. Catcher Salvador Perez hit cleanup, while Butler hit sixth.