Hernandez to start season on DL

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Kansas City Royals pitcher Runelvys Hernandez will begin the year on the 15-day disabled list because of concerns about his weight and stamina.

Projected to be the team's No. 2 starter, Hernandez allowed nine runs -- eight earned -- and five home runs in 12 innings. He also walked 10 and hit a batter. Hernandez will be dropped down to fifth in the rotation, manager Buddy Bell said Monday, a slot that's not needed until April 14.

Hernandez, who led the Royals with eight wins last year but didn't win a game after July 22, reported to spring training overweight. He will start the season on a rehab assignment at Triple-A Omaha.

"The bottom line is where he's at is not where he needs to be," general manager Allard Baird said Monday. "To say we're putting him on the DL because he is overweight, I think that is a little unfair. Does it factor in? Sure."

The Royals, who list Hernandez at 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds, won't say what he actually weighs. The right-hander has lost about 10 pounds since workouts began, Baird said.

Hernandez lasted 3 2/3 innings in a loss Saturday to a Chicago Cubs split squad.

"I'm real paranoid about starting him now and without him being in the best possible condition to pitch a full season," Bell said. "That's my biggest concern. I don't know if he understands that or not. We're doing what is best for the team and what is best for him. We don't want to get two or three starts into the season and he wasn't ready.

"We were hoping his stamina would be OK by the end of spring training, and maybe it is, maybe it isn't. We want to make sure. Runelvys feels like he is ready, but we want to be sure," he said.

Hernandez remained at the team's spring training facility in Surprise on Monday and did not travel to Scottsdale.

Hernandez was 8-9 with a 4.53 ERA last season before slumping. He had a 9.45 ERA in the final two months of the season, losing his final five decisions. He also gained weight during the season and went on the 15-day disabled list with a lower back strain on Aug. 26.

"He hasn't looked like the Runelvys that we've seen at times," Bell said.

Scott Elarton pitches the opener on April 3 against Detroit, and Joe Mays will start the second game on April 5. Jeremy Affeldt, the only left-hander in the rotation, will be the No. 3 starter, and Denny Bautista moves into the fourth slot.

"Runelvys, in my eyes, can be our No. 1 guy at some point," Bell said. "We've just got to get him in condition to where we think he's going to be able to hold up all year."