Hernandez went 4-3 with 2.79 ERA before going on the 15-day disabled list on May 27 because of inflammation in his elbow. The 25-year-old right-hander had been the Royals’ best pitcher before getting hurt.
“I can’t wait,” Hernandez said of Friday’s return. “I’m ready. And I’m going to pitch well.”
Hernandez began the season 4-0 with a 1.36 ERA after his first six starts. He then lost three straight before getting placed on the DL.
Kansas City’s rotation could use a boost. The Royals have already used 10 different starting pitchers, four fewer than all of last season.
Kansas City’s 5.06 ERA is the second-highest mark in AL.
Despite their poor pitching, the Royals have won six of nine and have a 4 1/2 -game lead on the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central.
Kansas City dropped two of three to the Anaheim Angels, including a 7-1 loss on Thursday.
Royals starter Chris George allowed five runs, four hits and four walks in five-plus innings and did not strike out a batter. His ERA ballooned to a season-worst 7.11.
The Rangers have won four straight and six of seven.
Juan Gonzalez homered twice as Texas beat the stumbling Twins 9-4 to complete a three-game sweep Thursday.
“That’s Rangers baseball, four homers,” Teixeira said. ”(Gonzalez) is on a tear. He can carry a team when he’s swinging the bat like he is.”
STANDINGS: Royals - 1st place, AL Central. Rangers - 4th place, 18 GB, AL West.
ROYALS PROBABLE STARTER: Hernandez (4-3, 2.79 ERA). Hernandez went 0-3 with a 5.89 ERA in his final three starts before being put on the DL. The right-hander gave up six runs and six hits in a 7-0 loss to Minnesota on May 14.
RANGERS PROBABLE STARTER: R.A. Dickey (4-3, 4.73 ERA). Dickey comes out of the bullpen for his first major league start. He will be Texas’ 13th starter this season. The 28-year-old righty has struck out 36 and walked 18 in 40 innings this season.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Royals - Desi Relaford, .292 avg.; Michael Tucker, 13 HRs; Mike Sweeney and Raul Ibanez, 50 RBIs; Raul Ibanez, 53 runs; Carlos Beltran, 23 SBs. Rangers - Hank Blalock, .329 avg.; Gonzalez, 23 HRS and 65 RBIs; Alex Rodriguez, 59 runs; Young and Rodriguez, 7 SBs.
2002 SEASON SERIES: Royals, 7-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Royals - RHP Mike MacDougal needs one save in the next three games to tie Jeff Montgomery’s 1993 club record of 25 saves before the All-Star break. … OF Beltran is mired in a 2-for-25 slump. … Texas is last in the majors with a 5.86 ERA. Rangers - RHP Jeff Zimmerman is scheduled for another simulated game over the weekend in his ongoing rehab program. Zimmerman, the Rangers’ former closer, has been on the DL all season recovering from ligament transplant surgery on his right elbow on July 30, 2002. … OF Gonzalez has 428 homers, moving past Billy Williams for 31st place on the career list. … OF Laynce Nix singled and scored in his major league debut Thursday and played strong defense in center field.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Royals - 22-21 on the road; Rangers - 23-24 at home.
INJURIES: Royals - IF Mendy Lopez (calf), 15-day DL; IF Mike Sweeney (back), 15-day DL; OF Dee Brown (wrist), 15-day DL; RHP Runelvys Hernandez (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Kyle Snyder (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Miguel Asencio (elbow), 60-day DL. Rangers - OF Kevin Mench (wrist), 15-day DL; LHP Aaron Fultz (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Chan Ho Park (oblique), 15-day DL; RHP Jeff Zimmerman (elbow), 60-day DL; IF Herbert Perry (shoulder), 60-day DL; OF Rusty Greer (neck), 60-day DL.