This morning the Royals received about as good as news as they could have hoped for on the Omar Infante front. No fractures. No concussion. As a result, the Royals are going to attempt to avoid a DL stint for their shiny new $40 million second baseman.
Unfortunately, for the Royals there is no back up middle infielder on the roster. It now appears that the Royals are going to stick with the current roster for 2-3 days in the hopes of Infante being healthy enough to play by the weekend. What this means is that Danny Valencia will be manning second for at least today and tomorrow's contests.
Personally, I think this is a mistake. Even last night, we saw first hand how risky playing Valencia at second could be. When Valencia turned a potential double play into a throwing error, the Rays were given new life in the 9th inning. In fact, thanks to this play the Rays were able to get the tying run to the plate.
So what could the Royals do?
Well yesterday the Royals called up Donnie Joseph and Michael Mariott. The Royals also recently called up Aaron Brooks. Each of these three pitchers have options available. We also know that Louis Coleman is nearly ready to return to the team following a trip to the disabled list in spring training. Either way in a few days the Royals will need to option one of their relievers to AAA Omaha.
The Royals could speed up that process and option one of the relievers to Omaha now and bring up either Johnny Giavotella or Christian Colon. Another option could be Jason Donald, although he would need to be added to the 40 man roster. By bringing up one of these middle infielders now, the Royals could then have an actual second baseman for the next couple of games, instead of playing Valencia out of position.
If Infante is ready to return to the lineup by the weekend (something that I think is very unlikely), you simply send down the recently called up middle infielder and bring back Coleman off the disabled list, getting you back to a 12 man pitching staff. For the next two games, you'd have to have an 11 man staff, but every reliever should be available for tonight. If having an 11 man staff wasn't an issue a week ago then it shouldn't be now.
If Infante takes a week to return to the lineup, then that makes the call up of a middle infielder even more important. For a team on the borders of contention every game is of the utmost importance. They can't afford to be playing multiple games with players out of position. It is great that Valencia can fill in as an emergency second baseman in situations like last night, but there's no reason the Royals should enter a game with him as the only option.
There is a move that can be easily made and improve the team for tonight. There's no excuse for the Royals not to make it.
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