CHICAGO — Yuniesky Betancourt is somewhere in limbo after being designated for assignment. Johnny Giavotella is still honing his skills, particularly his defensive skills, at Class AAA Omaha. New arrival Tony Abreu is clearly cast in a utility role.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
Second base in the Royals lineup belongs, at least for now, to Chris Getz. Call it a victory for patience.
It was roughly a year ago that Getz found himself shoved deep into a reserve role after the Royals promoted Giavotella and installed him as their regular second baseman over the seasons closing weeks.
I just stayed positive, Getz said. Obviously, this is just the way the game is. I figured Id just keep working hard and try to seize every opportunity and show value even if its as a bench guy coming in late in games or getting spot starts.
Just bide your time and wait for another opportunity.
Getz, 28, is batting .280, which is 26 points higher than his career average entering the season. And hes showing more pop: His .372 slugging percentage was 65 points higher than his pre-2012 career mark.
Im playing with more confidence, Getz said. I feel Ive contributed more here this year than I have in the past. Granted, there have been some injuries, but when Ive been out there, I feel like Ive been pretty productive.
That increased production is important because Getzs defense and base-running have never been an issue. Even now, the question begs: Does he provide enough offense to merit regular duty?
The answer has more to do with those around him.
Hes swinging the bat OK, manager Ned Yost said, but he really fits if our projected production guys are producing.
That just isnt happening.
While the Royals entered Tuesday ranked fourth among the 14 American League teams in hits and fifth in batting average, they were 10th in runs and last in home runs and walks.
The Royals overlooked Betancourts flaws for so long because of his power potential, and Giavotella remains an alluring alternative by continuing to rake at Omaha: a .332/.416/.497 split for average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
Betancourts departure meant the Royals needed someone who could play short as a backup to Alcides Escobar. Thats why Abreu got the summons, but all signs point to Giavotella returning perhaps before the end of the month.
Gio is really swinging the bat well, Yost said, but we dont have room right now to bring him up. If our pitching was a little more settled, we could go with 12 pitchers, and hed probably be the one who would be up here.
Whenever Giavotella returns, Getz figures to slip back into a part-time role. Until then, the job is his.
Thats the only way to look at it, he said. Theres more of an opportunity for me to play. So I just play and try to take advantage of it and show them what I can do. Thats what I feel Ive been doing all year.
Royals starter Bruce Chen ended a seven-start winless drought by continuing his recent run of success at U.S. Cellular Field. He is 3-0 with a 1.34 ERA over his last five starts on Chicagos South Side.
Im not going to say I love pitching here, he said. They have a very good team. Theyre in first place. Because they have such a good lineup, I think I concentrate and focus a little better. Every mistake you make, you can pay for it.
Chen, 8-9, got his first victory since June 26, when he worked seven innings in an 8-2 victory over Tampa Bay at Kauffman Stadium. He was 0-3 with four no-decisions while allowing 32 earned runs in 33 innings.
The victory was the 68th of his career, which moved him into sole possession of second place in big-league history for victories by a Panamanian native. Yankees closer Mariano Rivera has 76.
Five Royals drew mention in Baseball Americas annual survey of major-league managers regarding which players have the best tools.
Jarrod Dyson ranked as the American Leagues third-fastest baserunner behind two Angels: Mike Trout and Peter Bourjos.
Eric Hosmer ranked as the ALs third-best defensive first baseman behind New Yorks Mark Teixeira and Bostons Adrian Gonzalez.
Mike Moustakas ranked as the ALs third-best defensive third baseman behind Texas Adrian Beltre and Tampa Bays Evan Longoria.
Alcides Escobar ranked as having the ALs third-best infield arm behind Beltre and Oakland shortstop Cliff Pennington.
Jeff Francoeur ranked as having the ALs third-best outfield arm behind Torontos José Bautista and Clevelands Shin-Soo Choo.
The Royals promoted shortstop Christian Colón, the fourth overall pick in the 2010 draft, to Class AAA Omaha from Class AA Northwest Arkansas to fill the hole created when Tony Abreu joined the big-league roster.
Colón, 23, batted .289 with five homers and 27 RBIs in 73 games for the Naturals, including .288 in 13 games since returning from a toe injury.
Left-hander Noel Arguelles produced perhaps the most encouraging start of his pro career Monday when he worked seven shutout innings for Northwest Arkansas in a 4-0 victory at Arkansas.
Arguelles, 22, allowed just two hits while striking out five and walking one. He threw 59 87 pitches for strikes and was picked by Baseball America as its prospect pitcher of the day.
It was a rare success for Arguelles, a Cuban defector who signed a five-year deal for $6.9 million prior to the 2010 season. He had not permitted fewer than four runs in any of his six previous starts.
Arguelles improved to 3-12 and lowered his ERA to 7.17 through 21 starts.
It was 29 years ago Wednesday Aug. 8, 1983 that a crowd of 42,039 at then-Royals Stadium watched the Royals and Milwaukee Brewers split a double-header. That remains the largest regular-season crowd for a home game in franchise history