KANSAS CITY -- The Royals and Rockies swapped struggling starting pitchers on Friday, with Jonathan Sanchez going to Colorado and Jeremy Guthrie heading to Kansas City.
Sanchez's struggles were well documented recently. He was designated for assignment on Tuesday after his last outing when he allowed seven runs to the Mariners in just 1 1/3 innings. He finished his tenure with the Royals with a 1-6 record and a 7.76 ERA.
That tenure started with an offseason trade between the Royals and Giants that sent outfielder Melky Cabrera to San Francisco in return for Sanchez and pitching prospect Ryan Verdugo. Cabrera, meanwhile, was this year's All-Star Game MVP at Kauffman Stadium.
Guthrie struggled equally in his first season with the Rockies. In 19 appearances -- 15 starts -- Guthrie went 3-9 with a 6.35 ERA. In 90 2/3 innings, he's struck out 45 batters and allowed 21 home runs, which led the National League entering play on Friday.
"You had two pitchers that it didn't work out where they expected when the season began," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. "I think it gives both of them a very fresh start. Certainly, Jonathan, we wish him all the best as he goes to Colorado. And we're expecting Jeremy to come in here and do a very good job for us, give us some innings, some stability, and we think he'll pitch much, much better the second half of the season."
Guthrie is hoping to turn things around in the American League, where he spent his previous eight Major League seasons between Cleveland and Baltimore.
"I'm excited," Guthrie said. "The first thought is disappointment that I couldn't hold up my end of the bargain in Colorado and help that team win games, which I think they were built to do at the start of this year. But as I looked at what was in my future and I look at the Royals, I see a perfect fit there. I'm excited to play with the guys that are down there. It's a young core of great baseball players and an organization that has been lauded recently for the moves and the progress they've made, and I really hope to come in there and be a large part of good things that we can do here in the near future."
The righty was the Rockies' Opening Day starter, but he was removed from the starting rotation in mid-June due to a string of rough outings. Before being removed he had given up six or more runs in six of his 11 starts. On July 4, Guthrie was reinserted into the Colorado rotation. He is 0-2 with a 5.59 ERA since.
Guthrie joined Colorado in a February trade with the Orioles that sent pitchers Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom to Baltimore. Guthrie was a durable starter for the Orioles for five seasons, starting at least 26 games all five years and 30 games or more in four of those seasons.
"I have been blessed with a lot of health in my career, which is really important: to be able to go out there and your team can depend on you, to go out there and throw the innings and give them a chance to win," Guthrie said. "I work hard at trying to stay healthy. I know [head trainer] Nick [Kenney], who works in the training room there in Kansas City. I'm looking [forward] to hopefully being a workhorse, someone that [can] go out there and be there for the team whenever he's needed."
Guthrie did spend some time on the disabled list this season following a bicycle accident in late April. While riding to the ballpark, a piece broke off Guthrie's bicycle sending him tumbling to the ground. He landed on his elbow and sustained a sprained right shoulder.
Guthrie only missed a handful of starts and was back on the mound by mid-May.
Guthrie's new teammates are excited about his past success and the veteran presence he brings to the Royals.
"It's big-league experience with hitters," second baseman Chris Getz said. "Guthrie probably knows every hitter in the big leagues, obviously not the young guys: rookies and stuff like that. He knows what to expect out there. He's been through ups and downs. When he was in Baltimore, I'm sure they had some difficult seasons. He knows how to battle through that stuff, stuff that you can tell young guys, but until you experience it, that's where the real knowledge is."
Kansas City announced that Guthrie will start in Sunday's series finale against the Twins. He last pitched on Wednesday against the Pirates in Colorado, but lasted just 2 2/3 innings, throwing 68 pitches, allowing six runs (four earned) on six hits and earning a no-decision.
The Royals will make a corresponding roster move when he arrives to the team.
Sanchez returns to the NL West, where he found success as a member of the Giants' rotation. He went 13-9 with a 3.07 ERA in 2010, when San Francisco won the World Series. Moore reflected on why things didn't work out for Sanchez in Kansas City.
"I think a lot of the pressures of the deal were self-imposed at times, but that's a credit to Jonathan," Moore said. "He wanted to do well here, and he was very disturbed and disappointed that it didn't go as well as he had liked and put more pressure on himself. I know he cared a great deal. We wish him all the best as we go forward."
The Royals are hoping that Guthrie can provide some stability to a starting rotation that has not pitched well of late.
"He's an innings guy. We need innings out of our starters. He's going to take pressure off the bullpen by providing those innings, we feel, and we think that he's going to help us quite a bit," Royals manager Ned Yost said.