Second baseman Omar Infante is nearing a return to the field as he finishes his recovery from offseason surgery on his elbow, Royals manager Ned Yost said Tuesday.
Infante is expected to make his first start at second base on Thursday against the Chicago White Sox in Glendale, Ariz., Yost said. Infante served as the designated hitter on Monday in a 3-2 victory against the Cubs, and went 0 for 4. He is slated to DH again on Wednesday when the Royals play split-squad games against the Brewers in Surprise and the Mariners in Peoria.
Infante’s spring training was delayed after he underwent surgery last November to shave down a bone spur in his right elbow. Yost is hopeful that the procedure will help Infante bounce back at the plate after a disappointing season in 2015.
Infante batted .220 with a .234 on-base percentage last season, losing his starting job to Ben Zobrist during the final months of the regular season. Infante was left off the postseason roster after suffering an oblique strain in September.
With Infante, 34, coming off the worst offensive season of his career, the Royals have declared the second base job an open competition. Entering Tuesday, infielder Christian Colon was 0 for 11 at the plate in five spring-training games.
Collins throws BP
Left-handed reliever Tim Collins threw live batting practice on Tuesday and could be close to returning to game action in the “near future,” Yost said.
Collins, who underwent Tommy John surgery on March 12, 2015, is in the final months of a rehab program. He has set a goal of being ready to make the Royals’ roster on opening day. The rehab process, which usually lasts 12 to 14 months, could force him to begin the season on a rehab assignment.
Infielder Cheslor Cuthbert was held out of activities on Tuesday because of back tightness, Yost said. He is day to day.
“We just held him out as a precaution,” Yost said.