Notes: Royals cut struggling Elarton

Notes: Royals cut struggling Elarton

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals placed right-hander Scott Elarton on waivers for the purpose of giving him his unconditional release Wednesday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium.

Kansas City will announce a corresponding roster move Thursday and, according to manager Buddy Bell, Leo Nunez will probably make Sunday's start against the Rangers.

Elarton went 2-4 with a 10.46 ERA in nine Major League starts this season and allowed seven runs in a season-low 1 2/3 innings against the Yankees on Tuesday night.

"I knew something had to happen, because I started feeling really bad about my teammates," Elarton said. "When you start putting them in a bad position, it's not a good feeling. It's not good No. 1 for the club and it is not good for me. So something had to happen, and I think this was the best option."

Elarton served as the Royals' Opening Day starter in 2006 and went 4-9 with a 5.34 ERA before he underwent right shoulder surgery Aug. 1. He returned in mid-May and posted a 2-3 record and 9.17 ERA in eight Major League starts before he went on the disabled list with a foot sprain June 22. He made his first start back Tuesday night in the Royals' 9-4 loss.

Elarton talked with organizational officials, including manager Buddy Bell and pitching coach Bob McClure on Wednesday.

"It's really hard to release a guy that has that much character and cares that much about the organization, but at the same time, guys like that make it easier for you," Bell said. "This is something that had to be done. There is no doubt that Scotty will hook up with somebody, and I have no doubt that we will see him in the big leagues [again] someday."

This is the second time Elarton has been released in his career. The Rockies released him in 2004, and Elarton later resurrected his career with the Indians. Elarton believes he can still pitch in the Major Leagues and would "ideally" like to finish the season on a Triple-A team.

"There is still fuel in the fire, and I still feel like I can get people out at the big league level," Elarton said. "I just need a little more time and a little more fine-tuning, obviously. I still remain positive."

Elarton said his arm is the "best it has felt in years." But similar to his release from the Rockies, Elarton just doesn't have the command of his pitches yet.

"It has been there at times and it hasn't been there a lot of times," he said. "I just have to keep pitching. The timeline is basically the same as Colorado when they released me. That's just who I am. I just can't get it back in time, but that is all right."

The team will bring up a reliever Thursday. Possible options include Billy Buckner and Neal Musser, who has a 0.00 ERA for Triple-A Omaha and impressed in a recent stint with the Royals.

Bell called Nunez "an educated guess for Sunday" against the Rangers. Nunez, who threw 74 pitches and four innings of one-run ball versus the Red Sox on July 17, has been stretched out at Triple-A Omaha.

He tossed a season-high 86 pitches and allowed three runs in five innings on Monday for the 0-Royals. Overall, Nunez is 1-2 with a 2.74 ERA in five games (four starts) for Omaha.

Grudzielanek sees day off: Mark Grudzielanek saw a day off Wednesday night against Yankees starter Mike Mussina. Contrary to several trade rumors, Grudzielanek was not in the starting lineup at any point and was not traded to Mets. Manager Buddy Bell confirmed postgame that Grudzielanek was not scratched for Esteban German.

German played second base all game and Grudzielanek was with the team the entire night.

Grudzielanek has been mentioned in several trade rumors, including one to the Mets. However, the Royals hold Grudzielanek -- and other players mentioned in trades -- in high regard.

"I don't think we need to move anybody unless it is going to overwhelm us, and I know [general manager] Dayton [Moore] feels the same way," Bell said. "We have been playing well the last two months ,and I don't see any reason why we can't compete and contend for the next year or so.

"We have to make sure that we get something back that is going to help us soon, or just get someone that is going to be so impactful in the next two or three years that we can't turn it down."

Sanders remains as well: Contrary to a radio report Wednesday, Reggie Sanders was not traded to the Diamondbacks. Sanders was in Wednesday's starting lineup as the starting left fielder.

Sanders has been rumored in several deals, and the veteran is considered one of the Royals' biggest trading chips. He was batting .333 in 63 at-bats entering Wednesday night.

In Buck's seat: Dalton Vann from Blue Springs was sitting in Buck's seat for Wednesday night. Vann is a youth basketball coach and helps to coordinate the annual Martin Luther King celebration.

Bunts: On this date: George Brett hit for the second cycle of his career in 1990. It was the last time a Kansas City player has hit for the cycle. ... The Royals will celebrate Ladies' Night Out on Thursday night. ... The bullpen has the fourth-best ERA in baseball this month (2.63), trailing only Washington, Boston and Baltimore.

Royals rundown: Omaha won, 5-3, over Salt Lake City on Tuesday. Buckner allowed one run on three hits in one inning and Ben Hendrickson held Salt Lake to one run on four hits in five innings to earn the win. Ryan Shealy homered and doubled and has a hit in all four games of his hamstring-injury rehab. ... Double-A Wichita lost, 12-6, to Tulsa. Danny Christensen tossed five innings of six-run ball and fell to 2-11 this season. Adam Greenberg had two hits and a run. ... Class A Wilmington won, 7-4, over Salem when Rowdy Hardy continued his terrific season. Hardy tossed seven innings of three-run ball and has 13 wins this season, tied for the Minor League lead.

Class A Burlington won, 5-2, over West Michigan. Matt Morizio had three hits, including a homer and an RBI single. Mario Santiago worked five innings worked five innings of two-run ball. ... Advanced Rookie League Idaho Falls won, 10-3, over Missoula. Anthony Seratelli, batting .346 this season, went 4-for-4 with two doubles and a triple. ... Rookie League Burlington was rained out. ... Rookie League Arizona lost, 5-2, over the Arizona Padres. David Wood led the team with three hits and is batting .368 this season.

Player of the Day: Hardy. The soft-tossing Hardy is 13-2 with a 2.28 ERA and a 71/12 strikeout-to-walk rate in 130 innings.

Coming up: Left-hander Jorge De La Rosa (7-10, 5.61 ERA) will face Kei Igawa (2-2, 6.67 ERA) in the finale of the four-game series. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 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.