Kansas City, Mo. The Kansas City Royals designated RHP Yasuhiko Yabuta for assignment Saturday and placed second baseman Mark Grudzielanek on the 15-day disabled list because of a sprained right ankle.
The Royals also recalled infielder Jason Smith from Triple-A Omaha.
Yabuta, 35, a longtime standout for the Chiba Lotte Mariners in Japanese baseball, signed a two-year, $6 million contract in November. First-year manager Trey Hillman, who spent the previous five years managing in Japan, planned to use him in middle relief. But he never was effective in his first stint in the major leagues and was sent to Triple-A Omaha on June 25 with a 1-3 record and a 5.46 earned-run average.