Surprise, Ariz. Mike MacDougal, who saved 27 games as a rookie, will begin the season on the Kansas City Royals' disabled list, along with four starting pitchers.
MacDougal has not pitched since March 13 because of a stomach virus that caused him to lose five pounds and drained his strength.
"We can backdate it so he would still be eligible to come off April 10," general manager Allard Baird said. "I would like for him to have at least three games in the minor leagues. His weight is up to 184 pounds, but more importantly his strength is up."
Also opening the season on the disabled list will be right-handed starters Miguel Asencio, Runelvys Hernandez and Kevin Appier, who all had elbow surgery, and Kyle Snyder, who had shoulder surgery.
Appier probably will be activated in mid-April, and the other three are out for the season.
Also Wednesday, left-hander Jimmy Gobble threw 36 pitches in a bullpen session, his first time on the mound since he strained an abdominal muscle.
"I felt no immediate pain," Gobble said. "They want to see how it feels tomorrow. Anything can linger after you get done throwing. You never know the soreness that will come when you start using every muscle in your body."
Gobble is 2-0 with a 1.42 earned run average in four exhibition games and was the leading candidate to be the No. 4 starter before the injury. Gobble, 22, went 4-5 with a 4.61 ERA in nine starts last season.
Baird said Gobble, who had recovered from an abdominal strain last week, will be the No. 4 starter. Gobble is scheduled to throw three innings Saturday at Houston in the exhibition finale.
In other roster moves Wednesday, the Royals optioned left-handed pitchers Chris George and Jaime Cerda, right-handed pitchers Joe Dawley and Ryan Bukvich and outfielder David DeJesus to Class AAA Omaha.
In addition, the Royals reassigned left-hander Greg Swindell, who has pitched 16 years in the majors, and right-handers Zack Greinke, their top pick in the 2002 draft, Rudy Seanez, who has pitched more than nine years in the majors, and Kris Wilson, who made his major league debut in 2000, to the minor leagues.
The Royals are keeping outfielder Rich Thompson, a draft pick from the Pittsburgh Pirates, and utility player Mendy Lopez, who hit .277 in 52 games last season and started at five different positions.
"What it came down with Thompson is a need for that role," Baird said. "He has the ability to steal bases. He has the ability to run the bases in terms of instincts, reads and reactions. He's one of the faster guys in the American League, for sure. You can probably include the National League as well."
Thompson, 24, has a career .287 average in four minor league seasons. He is the only Royal outfielder who has the range to play center besides starter Carlos Beltran. Thompson is also known for his defense, but has committed three errors in 22 games.
The team will open the season with seven relievers, four starting pitchers and 14 position players. The Royals will go to a five-man rotation when Appier returns, but will need a spot starter for at least a March 12 start.
George, who was the 31st player selected in the 1998 draft, won nine games last year, but was inconsistent in spring training with a 7.71 ERA, yielding 12 runs on 16 hits and seven walks in 14 innings.