Second baseman Johnny Giavotella plans to enjoy his time with the Royals, even if it doesn’t last past the weekend.
Giavotella, 26, was recalled from Class AAA Omaha on Wednesday and started in the Royals’ 7-3 win over Tampa Bay in place of injured Omar Infante, who could be back in the lineup as soon as this weekend, said manager Ned Yost.
And that would mean a fourth return trip to Omaha in four years for Giavotella, who has terrorized minor-league pitching for the past seven seasons but has been a disappointment at the plate in the big leagues.
“It’s just part of the game,” Giavotella said of his KC-Omaha commute. “It’s something you have to get used to. It’s not easy at first. It’s a tough transition, coming up and down, packing all your stuff for a few days, and then packing everything back up and going back to Omaha
“But anything to come up to the big leagues, it’s all worth it.”
Infante, who was hit in the jaw by a pitch on Monday night, sat out his second game on Wednesday but will make the trip with the club to Minnesota for a three-game series, and his status will be updated on Friday.
Giavotella was hitting .368 at Omaha at the time of his recall, and batting in the second spot, contributed a single and sacrifice fly while handling four chances in the field on Wednesday.
But no matter how he does in this fourth opportunity with the Royals, he realizes the club is committed to Infante, who signed a four-year, $30.25 million contract as a free agent from Detroit.
“I know coming in that second base is Omar’s job, and when he’s healthy, I’m sure he’s going to come back,” said Giavotella, whose leadoff single sparked a two-run fourth, and his sacrifice fly in a five-run fifth earned a standing ovation from the fans behind the first base dugout.
“It was great playing in front of these fans at Kauffman,” Giavotella said. “They welcomed me with open arms like they always do, and it’s fun to play with them having your back.
“This is what I expect of myself, to have great at-bats and help the team. They put me in the two hole, and it’s not just to fill a spot. It’s to have me come up here and produce.”
In Giavotella’s three previous stints with the Royals, he has hit .240 with three home runs and 40 RBIs in 400 at-bats in 113 games. But he’s never appeared in more than 53 games or had more than 181 at-bats in any one season. He hit .338 at Omaha in 2011; .323 in 2012 and .286 in 2013.
“Everybody would like 400 consistent at-bats,” Giavotella said. “Unfortunately in this game, an opportunity is few and far between. The one thing I know I can control is my attitude. So I come to the ballpark in a great mood every day and try to make my teammates better and make myself better and help my team win in any way I can.”Roster moves
In addition to recalling Giavotella, the Royals activated reliever Louis Coleman from the disabled list and optioned right-handed pitcher Aaron Brooks and left-hander Donnie Joseph.
The moves left the Royals with just 11 pitchers instead of their customary 12, but the club can take advantage of off days Thursday and Monday to rest relievers.
Coleman was placed on the disabled list on March 30 with a sprained middle finger.
Optioning Joseph means the Royals have no left-handers in the bullpen, but Yost didn’t seem concerned about it.
“I feel like I’ve got (Aaron) Crow and (Wade) Davis and (Kelvin Herrera) who can get lefties out,” Yost said. “It’s a not a tremendous issue for me. It’s more of a luxury having a lefty down there.”Failed challenge
Yost challenged the third out of the second inning when Alex Gordon was caught stealing third base. Replays indicated Gordon beat the tag but were not conclusive enough to overturn the call.
“You can’t argue it,” Yost said. “They’re trying. I don’t know what the explanation is. It’s a new system and there are bugs to be worked out ”
So the days of arguing calls is a lost art?
“For the most part,” Yost said. “Not balls and strikes, though. We’re still screaming at ’em for that.”Escobar’s show at shortstop
Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar put on a clinic on Wednesday, making at least four highlight reel plays.
Escobar made a running, back-to-the infield, basket catch with a runner on first and one out in the second; he threw out Evan Longoria from deep in the hole on which first baseman Eric Hosmer made a nice scoop; and he threw out two batters after making barehanded pickups on soft rollers.
“I don’t think you can play a better shortstop than he played today on any level on this earth,” said Yost. “He was spectacular.”Hosmer to third spot
First baseman Eric Hosmer batted second on Tuesday night in the first game Infante missed because Yost said he wanted his “best hitter” in that spot.
But Hosmer returned to his familiar third spot on Wednesday with Giavotella hitting second. Why drop his “best hitter” behind a minor league call-up?
“I like Hosmer in the three,” Yost said before the game. “I like the way it’s set up. Gio is swinging the bat good in Triple A, he’s a good hit-and- run guy, he’s a good situational guy, he’ll take some walks and get on base for the big guys.”Etc.
• Guthrie’s performance gave the Royals their seventh quality start in eight games. The club recorded 95 quality starts in 2013, its most since 1985.
• Yost recorded his 288th win as Royals manager, passing John Wathan for fourth on the all-time list. Tony Muser is third at 317 victories.
• Outfielder Brett Eibner had a day to remember on Wednesday for Class AAA Omaha. Eibner, a second-round draft pick in 2010, went five-for-five with a double, two home runs and nine RBIs in a 20-3 victory over Memphis.