Yuniesky Betancourt has been battling an ankle problem since the end of spring training. Despite that, he’d played in 15 games for the Royals. Apparently, a day off here and there wasn’t allowing him to fully recuperate, so the Royals placed him on the disabled list.
To fill the role of utility player, they called up organizational soldier Irving Falu, a draftee from 2003 who’d spent his last three-plus seasons in Omaha. He gets his chance starting now.
Falu is a player who I felt could fill this role well before the season started. With a .306/.346/.403 line in Triple A and the ability to play nearly anywhere on the diamond, Falu could be a quality reserve as long as Betancourt’s out. Tony Abreu has hit well in Omaha as well and could have made the move too, but I think the Royals wanted to give the opportunity to Falu. He’s played well enough to deserve the look anyway, and hey, it’s a good story.
While lacking in power, Falu can make contact regularly and should the speed to do some pinch-running if necessary. He’s also very patient at the plate, an approach that most Royals simply aren’t. He’s got good range at second base and has played shortstop and third base regularly over his career as well.
Some could grumble about the promotion while Johnny Giavotella stays in Omaha. I get that. Gio is hitting .301/.360/.460 as a Storm Chaser this year with ten extra base hits, but in this case, whoever replaced Betancourt would need the ability to play behind Mike Moustakas and Alcides Escobar in case of injury or if they need day off. Falu can do that. Johnny Giavotella can’t. Gio also gets to play every day in Omaha and if the choice is between his sitting the bench half the time in Kansas City or seeing the field every day in Omaha, I’d go for the latter. When he makes it back up, it’ll be to resume his everyday second baseman role.
For now, I’m thrilled that Falu gets his shot. According to comments from Ned Yost, Falu should split time with Chris Getz, with Getz getting the majority of the time. Betancourt may be back right after the DL stint is over, but if not, Falu could fill in for a longer time frame if pressed into action.