Mar 11, 2014; Surprise, AZ, USA; Kansas City Royals second baseman Omar Infante (14) during the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Finding a Backup Plan for Omar Infante

Omar Infante was signed by the Kansas City Royals to solidify second base for the first time in years. Now, there are questions as to whether or not Infante will be starting at second base on Opening Day.

Feb 25, 2014; Surprise, AZ, USA; Kansas City Royals second baseman Omar Infante (14) throws during a workout at Surprise Stadium practice area. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Infante has been battling injuries through much of Spring Training. Originally sidelined with shoulder discomfort, Infante has been out of the lineup since Monday with a sore elbow. Right now, even though the Royals expect Infante to be in the lineup a week from today, that is not guaranteed. According to Ned Yost, another setback could keep Infante out on Opening Day.

If that happens, the Royals have a decision to make. The easiest solution would be to put Omar Infante on the disabled list, retroactive to Monday, and keep either Christian Colon or Pedro Ciriaco to play second. This way, the Royals would have someone who is, at the very least, familiar with playing the position in a regular season game. Otherwise, if the Royals feel that Infante will be back within a day or two from Opening Day, they may try their luck by having either Danny Valencia or Mike Moustakas playing second.

It may also be possible that the Royals could change their plans heading into Opening Day. For much of Spring Training, the Royals appeared to be dead set on having five outfielders, with Valencia the only backup infielder on the major league roster. In fact, they even gave Justin Maxwell a spot on the 25 man roster last week, seemingly cementing the idea of five outfielders on the team. Now, without a truly viable option at second base, the Royals may need to rethink that strategy. Should they decide to keep a utility infielder to cover for Infante, they risk losing either Maxwell or Jarrod Dyson.

Of course, the Royals could opt to go with the widely discussed six man bullpen, which does not appear to be an option for them either. Yost appears to be determined to have the conventional seven man bullpen, with two left handed relievers. What is this thing called ‘outside the box thinking’ people keep talking about?

If Omar Infante is not ready for Opening Day, the Royals are going to have some tough decisions to make. Having a backup middle infielder may have become far more important than the Royals envisioned.

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  • jimfetterolf

    If Infante can’t start the season I expect them to DL him for a piece, then they can use Ciriaco, maybe Jason Donald, or bring up Giavotella for yet another chance. If Infante is bad enough to miss the opener, I think they’ll err on the side of caution.

    • Dave Hill

      I would think so as well, I just don’t think that Giavotella is a part of their plans. This may end up being an article in the next few days as to why the Royals just do not seem to trust him.

      • jimfetterolf

        Gio’s had three or four springs and at least three call ups and he hasn’t performed. Limp stick and iron glove. This spring he’s hitting a little better and haven’t heard complaints on his glove, so worth a chance to call him up if Infante goes on the DL. I think they’ll wait on Colon until he shows he can hit AAA. He may have turned a corner, he may play himself out of the organization.

  • moretrouble

    The six man bullpen has been widely discussed in the blogosphere, Dave, but I’ve heard nothing from the organization about that. I suspect there is more to the story about keeping 5 OFers than we’ve heard. That’s just a guess, though. As far as Infante goes, if they have to put him on the 15 day DL, I don’t believe they’re prepared to use Valencia for two weeks at 2B. It’s likely they’d keep someone like Ciriaco, who is already on the 40 man. But, that begs the question of what happens when Infante is ready to come off the DL. Do they try to sneak Ciriaco through waivers?

    • Dave Hill

      The six man bullpen has not been discussed organizationally thus far, at least as far as I could find, but it is worth consideration. Not that I expect the Royals to do such a thing (Yost is hardly imaginative) but the Royals may need to be creative if they are dead set on the five man outfield. The biggest reasons for the five man outfield, at least as far as I can figure, involve Cain being rather fragile and Dyson/Maxwell being out of options. Since the Royals do not want to lose either, they are going to keep both on the roster in place of a utility infielder.

      Ciriaco is an interesting player to me. Perhaps it is because I saw a lot of him in 2012 (at the time, I was writing for the Rays site here and, as I live in the Boston area, saw a lot of Red Sox games) but I think he’s a solid player. I just have a hunch that he would not get through waivers if the Royals attempted to slide him through. Plenty of teams could use a player that is essentially Emilio Bonifacio Lite.

      • moretrouble

        Well…I think you’re right about Cain. My hunch is they’re not convinced he’s their guy. Regarding Ciriaco, I really haven’t seen him play all that much, so I’ll take your word on that.

        But, on the issue of the 6 man bullpen, I keep explaining why that’s a bad idea; why they won’t do it, but fans and bloggers don’t seem to accept the explanation.

        Fans seem to think a relief pitcher’s workload is fairly light when he comes in to pitch one inning. They don’t realize it takes 20-25 pitches to get warm, then another 6 on the mound when they come into the game, and even if it’s a clean inning — say 12 pitches — those guys are well over 40 for one inning of work. They do that two consecutive days…yeah, when they need a win, they’ll do that with a closer, but three consecutive days? That’s way, way too much. A manager needs fresh arms out there to match up in late innings and every now and then, they’ll use 4 guys in one game. If the starter comes out early the next day — or even the next two days — well, pretty soon, they’re using outfielders as pitchers to mop up.

        Fans see that seventh reliever used sparingly and say, hey, we could go without that guy and keep another position player we like. In that case, fans should find out if any of those bench players they want to keep ever pitched in high school, LOL.

  • Bill Arendt

    Size of the bullpen in April, anticipated player fatigue on day one of the unstarted season,whose the best third baseman to play out of position under a full moon; what is this hair splitting worth? Ned (Foghorn Leghorn) Yost’s job I guess.
    Really Mr. Yost? The season has NOT started and the excuses are rolling in. Please, do what the job requires: Go get 5 unanticipated wins vs. your annual 4 to 7 ‘we all saw it coming’ losses. That is at least a 6 game swing.
    Be Royal to the task. Give the fan base some juice.
    Get us a few wins in unlikely situations, please. Is the whining season also 6 months long?