The weakness of the Royals roster was exposed on Wednesday afternoon, when second baseman Omar Infante sat out due to stiffness and spasms in his lower back.
Danny Valencia replaced Infante in the field and contributed three hits in an 8-0 victory over the San Diego Padres, but Valencia is a natural third baseman who is still learning how to handle second. The team does not have a qualified middle infielder on its roster; they continue to carry five outfielders, despite the ongoing struggles of Justin Maxwell.
Infante felt his back tighten up before Tuesday’s game. He went 1-for-4 and played all 11 innings. He tried to fight through the discomfort on Wednesday morning, but was scratched from the lineup after batting practice.
He was hopeful he could play on Thursday, but unsure how his back would respond. “Now, I’m feeling so tight,” Infante said.
Manager Ned Yost does not believe the team will need to make a roster move to add an infielder. As he does on most occasions, he downplayed the condition. He rated his level of concern at one out of 10, and said Infante’s injury was far less severe than starter Bruce Chen’s bulging disk.
“This is nothing like Bruce’s problem,” Yost said. “This is just, his hips got out of alignment and he got back spasms. Which happens from time to time. There’s not a lot of concern involved.”Duffy back to bullpen?
When Danny Duffy takes the mound on Thursday night, Yost expects him capable of throwing 90 to 95 pitches. It will be his second start of the season.
With an off day next Monday, Yost does not intend to use a fifth starter again until May 17. In the interim, Duffy will be utilized out of the bullpen again, Yost said.
Yost still speaks of Chen returning from the disabled list to make that start on May 17. But general manager Dayton Moore indicated on Tuesday he considers Duffy a member of the starting rotation, and that Chen make be slow in returning.
“There’s that chance,” Yost said. “I don’t know. We’ll find out when we get there.”No rest for Perez
Salvador Perez caught 23 innings between Monday and Tuesday night. His left shin is still sore from a foul tip, and his running looks pained. The Royals played a day game on Wednesday.
In other words, the formula for a day off was in place. But there was Perez, in his customary spot behind the plate and in the middle of the Royals’ lineup.
Yost intends to play Perez on each day of this road trip, save for Sunday’s series finale in Seattle. The team has a scheduled day off on Monday.
“That way, he’ll have two back to back,” Yost said.