There may be no spring training battle more fierce than at second base.
Chris Getz is coming back from a broken thumb, while Johnny Giavotella will be looking to show that the minor-league numbers he’s posted are no aberration.
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Even manager Ned Yost is intrigued.
“I think it’s really going to be interesting, the competition at second base between Chris Getz and Johnny Giavotella,” Yost said at last month’s FanFest. “I think both guys are ready for the competition. Chris Getz looks tremendous. he’s healthy. He looks like he’s added some bulk, and looks like he’s ready to go. I think that Johnny is ready to break out and be the player that he’s always been in the minor leagues. I think that’s going to be very, very interesting.”
Giavotella had two stints with the Royals last year. The second came after Getz broke his left thumb in August, and Giavotella was given a chance to show what he could do.
In 32 games, Giavotella hit .250/.276/.330 with one home run and nine RBIs. That came after a stellar 89 games at Class AAA Omaha in which he hit .323/.404/.472.
One question mark about Giavotella is his defense. According to FanGraphs, Giavotella’s Ultimate Zone Rating was negative-5.3 last season. That was the worst of any AL Central second baseman who played at least 300 innings.*
At FanFest, Giavotella said he is not worrying about the second base competition.
“I’m going out there with the same mentality as I have every offseason going into spring training and that’s just having good at-bats, competing my butt off each and every day, taking early and late work to work on my game and making sure I’m a well-rounded player,” Giavotella said.
First and foremost, Getz is hoping to stay healthy. In addition to the broken thumb, Getz had bruised ribs and lower leg strain last year.
It hampered what had been his finest season at the plate. In 64 games, Getz hit .275/.312/.360 with 10 doubles. But after the All-Star break, those numbers dropped to .258/.295/.337.
As for his fielding, Getz had a better season in the field with a 0.0 UZR, according to FanGraphs. Yes, that’s an Animal House number: 0.0.
“We’ll see how it goes,” Getz said at FanFest. “I just feel like I need to prove that I’m healthy, play my game and it will all take care of itself. Keep it as simple as that. Gio is a talented player, a homegrown kid. He’s adjusting to the big-leagues as well. We’ll go out there and have fun with it.
“Out of spring training, what happens then doesn’t mean it will be that way for the whole year, so you just keep on grinding away."