Notes: Elarton to start Tuesday
Veteran has been on DL since June 22 with sprained foot
DETROIT -- Even after a subpar rehab outing Wednesday, Scott Elarton will start Tuesday night against the Yankees at Kauffman Stadium. Elarton permitted eight hits and six earned runs in 5 2/3 innings for Triple-A Omaha, but told manager Buddy Bell that he felt "as good as he as in a long time."
"Considering the situation that we are in, it was the most logical move," Bell said. "We need to get Scotty going. He has his mechanics the way they need to be."
Elarton hasn't thrown well since going on the disabled list June 22 with a right foot sprain. In five rehab outings, he allowed 21 runs in 26 2/3 innings and tossed just one quality start.
This will be Elarton's first Major League appearance since he worked 2 2/3 innings and took the loss against the Cardinals on June 13. Elarton has not pitched well in eight Major League outings this year. After undergoing shoulder surgery last August, Elarton returned in mid-May and posted a 2-3 record with a 9.17 ERA and no quality starts.
Bell said there were other options, but Elarton was the best choice to start.
"We go back and forth and back and forth, and we always seem to go back to Scotty anyways. We decided this is what we are going to do and put it behind us," the manager said.
Leo Nunez, who tossed an excellent four innings in a spot start Tuesday against the Red Sox, was sent to the Minors on Wednesday. Because he was optioned, Nunez was not considered for the start. Under league rule, a player cannot return to the Majors for 10 days unless under very specific circumstances, including injuries.
Butler solid at first: Bell was impressed with Billy Butler's first Major League start at first base Thursday against the Red Sox.
"I was pleasantly surprised, for the most part, about where he ended up," Bell said. "There are so many different things at first base. You have to be the cut-off man. You have to be the trailer. There are a lot of moves that you can't necessarily do at other positions. I was really surprised about [his] understanding where he needed to be."
Butler, considered Major League quality at the plate, hasn't found a position. He played outfield in an earlier stint with the Royals this season, but was shifted to first base when he was sent to the Minors in mid-May. The full-time DH with Mike Sweeney on the disabled list, Butler will see occasional starts at first.
"We will play him more and more and see how he does," Bell said. "I am not totally comfortable with it because he hasn't played there very much. There are other things to consider -- not just Billy's development, but we are trying to win and we have pitchers out there that rely on defense. It's a tough dynamic, but I like Billy and I like his actions."
Duckworth, Thomson progressing: Brandon Duckworth (oblique) threw long toss at 120-150 feet before Friday's game. On the DL since June 14, Duckworth has not been able to throw off a mound yet.
"Everything felt good and we are hitting everything right on schedule," he said. "It's just a matter of doing all those tests and making sure everything is good, and so far, so good. No mound work, but that's the biggest test of all."
John Thomson (lower back spasms) went on the disabled list on July 15. He will have to work his way back through rehab rather than rejoining the team.
"Thomson is not going to be ready for awhile. And when he does get back, he will have to be healthy, and he is going to have to get stretched out," Bell said. "He will not be able to do it in the bullpen. He is going to have to do some rehab stuff, so it is going to be awhile."
Bunts: The Royals started a very right-handed-heavy lineup against Tigers starter Kenny Rogers on Friday. Seven right-handers, including Reggie Sanders, started. David DeJesus earned a rare day off. DeJesus is a career 2-for-13 against Rogers, and he is 2-for-25 on the road trip. DeJesus said he was not injured. ...Bell has been impressed with Jason Smith. Acquired a week ago, Smith has started twice at shortstop in his first six games. "Having a left-handed utility guy is a nice thing to have," Bell said. ... Bell said Tony Pena had a slight hamstring problem, but he was in the starting lineup Friday. ... Ryan Shealy (hamstring) will likely begin a rehab assignment in the next few days.
Royals rundown: Triple-A Omaha starter Billy Buckner, one of the Royals' top prospects, allowed five runs (four earned) in six innings in a 5-1 loss to Albuquerque on Thursday. Neal Musser, who impressed in a recent stint with the Royals, pitched a scoreless inning. He has not allowed an earned run in 32 innings with Omaha. ... Double-A Wichita lost, 1-0, to Springfield on Thursday. Dusty Hughes earned a no-decision for six innings of shutout ball. ...Behind Rowdy Hardy, Class A Wilmington won, 8-3, over Myrtle Beach on Thursday. Hardy pitched a complete game and allowed three runs on seven hits. Mario Lisson went 2-for-4 and drove in three runs.
Player of the day: Hardy. The soft-tosser continues his outstanding season. Rarely touching the mid-80s mph, Hardy's great control has produced a 12-2 record, 2.20 ERA and 11 walks in 123 innings.
Coming up: Jorge De La Rosa (7-10, 5.25 ERA) opposes Tigers All-Star Justin Verlander (11-3, 3.26 ERA) in the second game of the series on Saturday. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. CT.
Conor Nicholl is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.