Omar Infante is on the mend, but his return to Royals’ lineup is still uncertain

05/18/2014 11:18 PM

06/03/2014 10:17 AM

It is still unclear whether Royals second baseman Omar Infante will be ready to return when he is eligible on Thursday, but he has been making progress in his rehabilitation from lower back spasms and disk inflammation.

Infante took 30 swings off a tee and took another 30 in soft toss on Saturday. He also “bent over” to scoop some grounders, manager Ned Yost said.

“We’ll just take it day to day,” Yost said Sunday before an 8-6 victory over the Baltimore Orioles. “He’s got to take groundballs, and hit. We’re just going day to day with it.”

Infante last played on May 6 in San Diego. He experienced a recurrence of spasms when trying to field grounders in Seattle later that week.

He has been missed. The team recalled Johnny Giavotella to replace Infante. Even with a critical, three-run homer last week, Giavotella is batting .179. He has no other extra-base hits.

Pedro Ciriaco started in Giavotella’s place on Sunday. Yost is trying to keep his bench fresh, after watching Justin Maxwell start slow and never find a groove. The team designated Maxwell for assignment earlier this week.

So Yost has been active in utilizing outfielder Jarrod Dyson as a late-game defensive replacement. Lorenzo Cain shifts to right field and replaces Nori Aoki. Dyson takes over in center. The team considers Cain a superior center fielder, but he is more experienced than Dyson in right.

Crow’s streak ends

In his 20th appearance of the season, Royals reliever Aaron Crow gave up his first earned run. Orioles outfielder Adam Jones tagged him for a three-run homer in the ninth inning on Sunday.

“He gave up three runs,” manager Ned Yost said. “It happens. It just proves he’s human. Now he’s got an ERA a little above zero.”

The number swelled to 1.56 ERA. Crow has been far from perfect this year, but he had found a groove lately.

Early in the season, Crow struggled with inherited runners. His strand rate is still 78.6 percent, which is down from last year’s 83.6 percent success rate. In his previous seven appearances in May, Crow gave up two hits and one unearned run in seven innings.

To reach Andy McCullough, call 816-234-4370 or send email to rmccullough@kcstar.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/McCulloughStar.

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