HAINES CITY, FLA. The Kansas City Royals will start the season with four players on the 15-day disabled list, including closer Roberto Hernandez and left-handed starter Darrell May.
The Royals also released veteran reliever Doug Henry, a move that cost the club more than $1.5 million because Henry had a guaranteed contract.
Hernandez, who led the club with 28 saves last year, has a right elbow strain. May was removed from a Friday start because of a strained left groin.
The Royals, as anticipated, also placed outfielder Mark Quinn, who has a fractured rib, and right-hander Kris Wilson, who has right triceps tendinitis, on the disabled list. Quinn has not appeared in a game, while Wilson has not pitched since March 17.
Hernandez has not pitched in a major league spring training game since March 18 and could be activated as early as April 6 if he has no setbacks.
"I'm more concerned about the time he missed than the discomfort," Royals manager Tony Muser said of Hernandez. "I think this is the right thing to do to make sure he is 100 percent."
Hernandez threw 17 pitches in a one-inning minor league stint Friday without any ill effects. He and May will remain in Florida to throw in warmer weather and in minor league spring games until rejoining the club.
"We'll close by committee," Muser said until Hernandez is healthy.
Hernandez said he hurt his elbow while trying to throw a cut fastball, a new pitch for him.
May, who spent the past four years in Japan, will be eligible to come off the disabled list on April 11. The Royals will not need a fifth starter until April 13 because of three early off dates.
May said he hurt his groin a few days ago while warming up in the bullpen.
The 38-year-old Henry signed a two-year contract with the Royals as a free agent after the 2000 season. He was 2-2 with a 6.07 ERA in 53 relief appearances in 2001.
The Royals will open the season with 11 pitchers, including four rookie relievers Â Jeremy Affeldt, Brian Shouse, Miguel Asencio and Jeff Austin.
In other moves, the Royals optioned left-hander Chris George to Class AAA Omaha and reassigned catcher Hector Ortiz and Danny Ardoin to the minor league camp. George was 0-3 with a 7.20 in six exhibition games.