Pena designated for assignment, Maier optioned

The Royals designated for assignment shortstop Tony Pena Jr. and optioned center fielder Mitch Maier to Triple-A Omaha on Thursday.

The moves cleared roster space for shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt and third baseman Alex Gordon. Both are coming off the disabled list and will be in the starting lineup for Friday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Pitcher Sidney Ponson reported from his injury rehabilitation assignment but remained on the disabled list.

The Royals listed their starting rotation for the Tampa Bay series. Brian Bannister will start the Friday night opener, followed by All-Star Zack Greinke on Saturday night and Luke Hochevar on Sunday.

The club will further evaluate the status of Gil Meche, who left his last start because of a back spasm.

In addition, shortstop Luis Hernandez cleared waivers and accepted an assignment to Triple-A Omaha. He had been designated for assignment by the Royals

–Dick Kaegel.

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