Sep 20, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals third basemen Mike Moustakas (8) fields a ground ball against the Texas Rangers during the second inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Moustakas as the Kansas City Royals Backup Middle Infielder

Mar 6, 2014; Surprise, AZ, USA; Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas (8) tries to make the off balance throw for the out in the fourth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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  • jimfetterolf

    Lee commented on that today. Mike has been taking reps in practice, as has Valencia, so getting enough comfort to finish a game if Infante gets hurt or if Esky gets hurt and Infante moves over.

  • Michael Engel

    Boy, I just can’t really feel comfortable with him there more than the briefest of emergency situations. Finish out a game if necessary and then have a middle infielder called up the next day. I don’t see any scenario where they say “we’ll make Moose or Infante our long-term middle infield solution this year”. Well, maybe one scenario, in which all the other potential middle infielder guys are gone. I’d reckon if they had to they’d go through a maybe-snuck-through-waivers Ciriaco or add-to-40-man-in-case-of-injury Jason Donald. Or Christian Colon, who they don’t seem interested in anymore.

    • Dave Hill

      I don’t like it either Mike, but there does not seem to be another alternative that the Royals are realistically taking. With the way they are building this roster, Moose may well end up being that guy, as frightening as that is.

  • cardsfanatik

    Ok. I’m not getting the love affair with Dyson. Yes, he’s fast……The End. He can’t hit, and he isn’t that good of a fielder. If you have watched Dyson at all, he gets terrible reads, and not great jumps most of the time, but his Cheetah speed allows him to make up for it. Keeping him on the roster just doesn’t make that much sense to me, at the loss of a middle infield backup. I highly doubt someone will snag Dyson, maybe, but so what, he isn’t really in the future plans anyway. Now, if they could teach him to take a walk, and to just hit the ball on the ground the other way, he could be a weapon, but he looks like he’s chasing butterflies most of the time at the plate.