After working at second base during a brief stint in the Arizona Instructional League in October, the Royals’ Cheslor Cuthbert is playing the position again in winter ball.
Cuthbert made his debut Sunday for Indios del Boer in the Nicaraguan League, starting at second base while collecting a hit. Cuthbert didn’t play on Monday.
The Royals have mulled using Cuthbert, a third baseman, at second base in the past, and he could have an opportunity to battle Whit Merrifield, Raul Mondesi and Christian Colon at the position in spring training. The question: Can Cuthbert handle the defensive demands at the spot?
"I felt good at second base," Cuthbert said after Sunday’s game, according to Nicaraguan publication El Nuevo Diario. "Let's see how it goes."
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If the complexion of the Royals’ roster remains the same, Cuthbert could also be a possibility at the designated hitter position. Cuthbert, 24, batted .273 with a .318 on-base percentage and 12 homers while playing in 127 games at third base. But with the impending return of Mike Moustakas from a season-ending knee injury, Cuthbert will likely see his playing time at third base slashed.
Cuthbert is also out of options, which means the Royals cannot stash him at Class AAA Omaha. He will have to remain on the 25-man roster or be exposed to other teams through a waiver claim. That could motivate the Royals to find a new position for Cuthbert, whether that be in a rotating designated hitter position or time at second base.
Bonifacio playing in Dominican
While Cuthbert is playing some games in his home country, the Royals have a collection of players seeing time in various winter leagues in the Caribbean. Outfielder Jorge Bonifacio, 23, entered Monday batting .259 with a .310 on-base percentage and four doubles in 21 games for Tigres del Licey in the Dominican winter league. Bonifacio spent the 2016 season at Class AAA Omaha, hitting .277 with 19 homers.
Meanwhile, shortstop Ramon Torres, a 23-year-old who remains on the 40-man roster, is hitting .318 with an .873 OPS in 21 games for Gigantes del Cibao in the Dominican. Torres, who split 2016 between Class AAA Omaha and Class AA Northwest Arkansas, has clubbed six doubles and three homers in 90 plate appearances.
Shortstop Raul Mondesi has played in six games for Tigres del Licey, hitting .294 (5 for 17) with two doubles and a triple. Top prospect Hunter Dozier logged two games for Tigres del Licey, collecting two hits in seven plate appearances. First baseman Samir Duenez, a 20-year-old who was added to the 40-man roster last week, has played 10 games for Navegantes del Magallanes in the Venezuelan league, hitting .259 with four walks in 31 plate appearances.
On the pitching side, left-hander Jonathan Dziedzic has posted a 1.32 ERA in four starts for Tigres del Licey, allowing three runs in 19 2/3 innings while striking out 12 and walking eight. Dziedzic, who spent last season at Class AAA Omaha, was not added to the 40-man roster last week and could be available to another team in the Rule 5 draft in early December.