The discomfort does not greet Omar Infante when he throws.
Instead, he feels the effect of the bone spur in his right elbow when he swings a bat. Infante hit inside a cage on Saturday morning and said he still felt a “just a little pinch” in his elbow.
Infante minimized his concern about the situation. But his status is worth monitoring as the Royals head into their final days here in the Cactus League, one of the few lingering issues for a club with almost all of its major roster decisions made.
The team leaves for a two-game exhibition series on Wednesday, and manager Ned Yost would prefer to have his 25-man roster final by then. But Infante is unsure if he’ll be able to play in another game in Arizona.
“I don’t know, man,” he said. “I think a couple more days, three more days, four more days, I’ll see how I’m feeling. I think every day I do a little more. And I think that’s helping.”
Infante received a cortisone shot on Tuesday. He resumed his throwing program Saturday without any issues. But the injury still nags at him.
Infante will increase his workload in the field as the days tick away. He plans to take soft toss today. The next day, his goal is batting practice on the field. After two or three successful forays there, he hopes to play again.
“I think Omar’s going to be ready,” Yost said. “If he has another hiccup, he won’t be. But if everything is going to plan, he’ll be ready for opening day.”
The Royals are past the deadline to back-date a stint on the disabled list. So if Infante experienced a setback in a major-league game, he would be forced to miss at least 15 days of action. Still, Yost did not rule out the possibility of Infante playing in a game down here.
“We’ll see how he feels tomorrow,” Yost said. “And then just keep upping it up a little bit.”
The Royals will rely on Infante in 2014. But they also still appear intent on breaking camp without a backup middle infielder on the roster, which makes Infante’s viability that much more important.
With Infante down, Yost plans to play Danny Valencia, a natural third baseman, at second base as much as possible. Valencia continues to acquit himself well in the field, but he has never played the position at the big-league level.
“We’ll play him at second as much as we can,” Yost said. “Just to get him the experience.”
As his infield mates completed a rundown drill on Saturday morning, Infante sat on a chair with his back pressed up against the dugout’s chain-link fence.
After a few minutes, he took a knee to watch. During batting practice, he was able to field grounders and take feeds from shortstop Alcides Escobar.
“We’ll see how I feel tomorrow,” Infante said. “But I threw today. I felt good.”