After three days on a rehabilitation assignment, second baseman Omar Infante rejoined the Royals for Monday night’s series opener against Houston. He reclaimed his primary position in the field and batted second in the lineup.
Infante played two games in the field with Class AAA Omaha to test his lower back. A spate of spasms had kept him out of action since May 6.
“I don’t feel anything,” Infante said before the game.
To make room on the roster, the Royals optioned reliever Casey Coleman back to Omaha. His departure balanced the roster. The team now has a seven-man bullpen again, with the addition of right-hander Michael Mariot on Sunday.
Manager Ned Yost indicated he was not worried about a recurrence of Infante’s symptoms. Yost’s lone concern was this weekend at Rogers Centre.
“We may have to monitor his games in Toronto,” Yost said. “Because that turf is tough on his back. But we’ll just go day to day with him, and see where he’s at.”
With Infante back, Pedro Ciriaco slid over to third base for Monday night. Yost considered Ciriaco a better defensive option than Jimmy Paredes, who started Sunday in Anaheim.
The backups will hold the line at third for at least a few more days. Danny Valencia is still sore after spraining his hand on Saturday night.
He attempted to swing a bat Monday afternoon, but felt too much pain to continue.
Yost estimated Valencia will need “three to five” days off, but insisted a stint on the disabled list is still unlikely.
Chen throws simulated game
Left-hander Bruce Chen, who has a bulging disk in his lower back, threw 25 pitches in a simulated game. He felt little discomfort during the session.
Even more encouraging, he said, was a return of his command.
Chen had felt inexact in his previous times on the mound.
“Now I’m just rusty,” Chen said. “Before, I didn’t know where the ball was going.”
Chen expects to throw another bullpen session as his next step.
The team has yet to reveal when he will begin a rehab assignment. Upon his return, Chen will likely move into the bullpen.
Mesa, Walters traded
The Royals shipped two minor-leaguers to Toronto for cash considerations. Outfielder Melky Mesa and right-hander P.J. Walters were traded from the Omaha roster.
Mesa was batting .284 with an .873 on-base plus slugging percentage for the Storm Chasers.
Walters posted a 7.97 ERA in 40 2/3 innings.