Johnny Giavotella hopped a flight out of Austin, Texas, on Friday morning, connected through Salt Lake City and found himself batting in the middle of the Royals lineup here at Safeco Field. How long he stays depends on the health of starting second baseman Omar Infante.
Infante sat out again on Friday, and the team does not intend to play him against the Mariners. After resting this weekend, Infante (lower back inflammation) will be revaluated on Tuesday back at Kauffman Stadium. The team’s training staff informed manager Ned Yost they do not believe Infante will land on the disabled list, but Yost wanted a more qualified option at second than part-time third baseman Danny Valencia.
To make room on the roster, the team optioned reliever Michael Mariot to Class AAA Omaha.
The Royals chose Giavotella, 26, over more capable defenders like Pedro Ciriaco or Christian Colon because of Giavotella’s bat. He was hitting .352 with an .894 on-base plus slugging percentage in Omaha.
He spent the majority of his time there in recent weeks at third base. Giavotella estimated he played the hot corner four or five times a week, and second base during the interim.
"They’re just trying me out at different positions," Giavotella said. "Trying to get me as versatile as possible. I think the more options I’ll give the manager, the better off I’ll be."
The arrival of Giavotella coincides with the ongoing struggles of third baseman Mike Moustakas. The team has already begun to platoon Moustakas with Valencia. But Moustakas remains mired in a dreadful early season slump.
Heading into Friday’s game, his .147 batting average was the fourth-worst among the 197 players with at least 100 plate appearances. Even so, the team is still committed to Moustakas as their regular choice at third, general manager Dayton Moore said.
"You’ve got to look at what the alternatives are at this point in time," Moore said. "He helps us win games right now. We’re not winning as many games as we’d like to. But you can make an argument on probably three-fourths of the lineup right now. You’ve just got to battle through it."
CAIN STILL LUNGING
When Lorenzo Cain returned to the dugout after a second-inning at-bat on Thursday, trainer Nick Kenney chided him for his forgetfulness. Upon his return from the disabled list, Cain pledged to stop lunging through first base trying to beat out infield singles.
Except he repeated the motion on Friday. Cain landed in an awkward manner. He lamented he almost rolled his ankle. Kenney was there to remind him not to alter his running motion, an instruction that runs counter to Cain’s instincts.
The habit is a bad one, he said. "But I’ll break it."
RUSTY RETURNS TO THE FIELD
After more than two weeks off, first-base coach Rusty Kuntz resumed his on-field duties on Friday night. He had been nursing a broken wrist, which occurred when Salvador Perez struck him with a line drive in batting practice in Cleveland.
Kuntz is wearing a lighter cast on his left arm these days. "He’s got two arms," Yost said. "He doesn’t have to wave the broken one."