After rampant speculation about whether or not the Royals would demote the much-maligned Mike Moustakas, the team announced that Moose was safe for now, instead choosing to place Omar Infante on the 15-day disabled list with a back injury, retroactive to May 7th. In his place, they’ll be calling up utility infielder Pedro Ciriaco, who will need to be added to the 40-man roster. Since the roster currently sits at 39 players, no corresponding move is necessary.
You may notice that Pedro Ciriaco is not a relief pitcher. The Royals likely noticed this as well, and decided to call him up anyway. This move leaves the team with a 6-man bullpen, which is surprising considering their insistence on having 7 relievers earlier in the year. However, they are coming off of an off-day, and with James Shields and Jason Vargas set to pitch the next couple of nights, 6 rested relievers should be more than enough. It also gives the Royals the roster many people – myself included – suggested at the beginning of the season, that is, a shorter bullpen along with a backup middle infielder. Despite what we all expected, the move makes quite a bit of sense.
Ciriaco was removed from Omaha’s game earlier today after one plate appearance, and will likely be available off the bench tonight. He had compiled a line of .305/.328/.492 in 64 plate appearances for the Storm Chasers this season, which came on the heels of being designated for assignment by the Royals in early April.
This move does, however, leave the Royals with the same problem they’ve been facing all year: a very unproductive third baseman.
Moustakas isn’t in the lineup against a left-handed starter tonight, but his presence on the roster could seem troubling to some fans. Ned Yost mentioned during a radio interview with Mike Ferrin that the team needs to “get [Moustakas] going, he’s a big part of what we’re trying to accomplish.” This may appear to signal that the team is still far from reaching the point of demotion, but I wouldn’t be so sure. If Moose doesn’t pick it up soon, the organization will have no choice but to send him to Omaha. If he’s still struggling when Infante is eligible to return on May 22nd, we may find ourselves in Moose Watch: The Sequel.
As it stands now, though, the Royals have a true utility infielder on their bench and enough capable bullpen arms to get through at least a few games before reinforcements are needed.