With the injuries to the middle of the Kansas City Royals infield during Spring Training, it would seemingly make sense for the Royals to break camp with a utility infielder. Yet, that does not appear to be a part of the plans, as the Royals have seemingly committed themselves to having five outfielders, a backup catcher and Danny Valencia on their roster. With that roster, it would have seemed that the Royals would have either Valencia or Brett Hayes as the emergency backups in the middle infield, should anything happen to either Alcides Escobar or Omar Infante during a game.
That may end up not being the case. Yesterday, the Royals started Mike Moustakas at second base for the first time in his professional career. In his six innings there, Moustakas performed relatively well, handling both his chances without error.
It may only be one appearance at another position, but having Moustakas at second may give some insight as to how the Royals look to handle the problem of not having a backup infielder. Moustakas was originally drafted as a shortstop, and played there until through 2008, so he does have some experience in the middle of the diamond. Valencia, meanwhile, played all of two innings at shortstop in his minor league career in 2008.
The idea of having Danny Valencia as a backup corner infielder is certainly valid. He has experience at first in the minors, so he may be able to play there should Billy Butler or Salvador Perez be unable to give Eric Hosmer a break. However, Valencia would likely be entirely out of his element at either middle infield position. Mike Moustakas, although he has not played there in over five years, could potentially get back into a rhythm at short with additional playing time.
It is going to be interesting to see if the Royals continue to play Moustakas at second, or give him a few starts at short, in an effort to get him acclimated to those positions once again. With Escobar still out of the lineup, having someone that the Royals know can play either short or second if needed could be of even more importance than they would have expected. Unless they put Escobar on the disabled list to start the season, Moustakas may well be that option.
Mike Moustakas had been a shortstop when he was originally drafted. Now, after six years, he may end up occasionally finding his way back to the middle of the Royals infield.