Omar Infante wants to join his new Royals teammates on March 31 in Detroit. But he does not know if he can. Opening day is less than a week away, and Infante still feels discomfort in his right elbow.
Infante played five innings at second base in a minor-league game Tuesday. He worked a walk and scored a run. He completed two throws.
And he still felt a lingering “pinch” when he threw and when he hit, he said. Over the weekend, he said he felt the grab only when he swung a bat.
“I’m still not 100 percent,” Infante said, though he insisted his condition was improving. Manager Ned Yost and general manager Dayton Moore also issued similar appraisals of Infante’s health. To Royals officials, the injury is not considered severe. But the timing is unfortunate.
“We’re just playing it really day to day right now,” Yost said. “But I think he’s going to be fine.”
Yost intends to play Infante in minor-league games on Wednesday and Thursday. He will take at-bats only as the designated hitter in the second game. Then he can fly to Milwaukee and join his big-league teammates for a two-game exhibition series.
“I wouldn’t say he’s 100 percent at this point,” Moore said. “It’s just day to day really. We’ve got to trust the player in this situation. But from my conversations with (trainer) Nick Kenney and our medical team, it’s not a long-term concern.”
In that vein, Moore insisted he was not worried about the bone spur lingering and requiring surgery.
“There’s a lot of spurs in all these guys out here,” Moore said. “You throw a baseball, there’s going to be adaptations. I’m not a doctor, of course. But it’s a pretty routine thing.”
Earlier this spring, Infante missed 11 games in the field because of shoulder inflammation. He has spent little time partnered with shortstop Alcides Escobar. Yost has downplayed the necessity of in-game experience for the two. Both are veterans who are expected to adapt well.
The team is still committed to starting the season without a qualified backup middle infielder on the roster. They intend to take catcher Brett Hayes, outfielders Jarrod Dyson and Justin Maxwell and infielder Danny Valencia for their four bench spots. A natural third baseman, Valencia has been learning second base this spring.
If Infante experiences a setback, the team still has backups. They optioned Johnny Giavotella to Class AAA Omaha on Tuesday. Pedro Ciriaco played second base later that night. Jason Donald impressed team officials this spring, though he would need to be added to the 40-man roster.
The team is still sorting through multiple options for how to configure their roster. But clarity should arrive in the coming days.