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Season's start a Royal pain

They needed the day off. They're hurting physically, and their performance reflects it. They've lost seven of 10 and are coming off a sweep. Do the Royals sound like a team you know?

The Devil Rays may have met their match in the two-game series beginning tonight in Kansas City. The teams, which were off Monday, have combined to win four of their past 20 games.

Like the Devil Rays, who have had their bangs and bruises, the Royals are not at full strength. Kansas City has six players on the disabled list, including Kevin Appier (shoulder), Jermaine Dye (strained left quadriceps) and Jeff Conine (abdominal muscle), who have not played. Conine was expected to be activated today.

"FOR SALE' SIGN: The Royals' board of directors is reviewing three bids for the franchise.

Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt and Western Resources Group announced last week they have joined forces for a bid. Ex-Royals great George Brett heads another potential ownership group, as does New York lawyer E. Miles Prentice. A sale is expected before the All-Star break in early July.

_ JOHN ROMANO, TIMES WIRES

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