Omar Infante, when signed to his four year contract in the offseason, was brought in to solidify the revolving door that had been the Royals second base position. So far, Infante has done exactly that, playing solid defense while fitting seamlessly into the offensive model that the Royals had been attempting to create this season. In fact, when he has been in the lineup, Infante has arguably been the Royals most consistent batter this year.
The problem is that phrase “when he has been in the lineup.” A player who has been reasonably durable, playing in over 130 games in three of the previous four seasons, Infante has been dealing with several injuries this season. Initially, in Spring Training, Infante missed time due to a bone spur and inflamtion in his right elbow. He missed a couple of games when hit in the jaw with an errant pitch thrown by Heath Bell, which was perhaps the result of residual fast food grease left upon the jollux’s right hand. Now, Infante is dealing with a sore back, which is expected to keep him out of action until Saturday.
With Danny Valencia looming as the present backup option at second base, it may be time to wonder if the Royals should be concerned with Omar Infante’s health going forward. Hardly approaching ancient status at 32 years old, Infante’s injuries could still be troubling. While getting drilled by Bell was a fluke and not something that could be anticipated, the elbow and the back could be ongoing issues. Infante, for his part, does not seem to be concerned by his back at this point.
“It’s just inflammation,” Infante said. “It’s happened to me before, last year. In a couple days, I think I’ll be better. Maybe I’ll be ready for Saturday.”
For now, the Royals are not planning on making a move to put Infante on the disabled list or to call up a backup middle infielder. Neither the Royals nor Infante feel that his back issues are of any concern, with Infante referring to his back as “stiff” when he took batting practice. Yet, this may be something to keep an eye on, especially with the defensively limited Valencia as the fallback option.
Omar Infante is just sore at this point. But with the long season ahead, and the lack of middle infield depth at the major league level, that soreness may be something to keep an eye on.