Royals

Royals manager Ned Yost says club could use rotation at second base

Whit Merrifield is competing for the starting job at second base this spring, but he was subbing for Eric Hosmer at first base in Monday’s game against the Mariners.
Whit Merrifield is competing for the starting job at second base this spring, but he was subbing for Eric Hosmer at first base in Monday’s game against the Mariners. jsleezer@kcstar.com

As spring training began, the Royals’ competition at second base included four players and plenty of uncertainty. Here’s another layer: Manager Ned Yost said Monday that the club may consider a rotation at the spot when the season begins.

“I’ve got no preset opinion on who’s going to be the opening day second baseman,” Yost said. “And the way I kind of see it, unless somebody just runs and grabs it, it’s probably going to be (that) whoever is the opening day second baseman is not going to be the everyday second baseman.”

As Yost sat in his office Monday morning, he stressed that the situation is fluid. The competition remains in its infant stages and the club will make decisions based on a full spring training. But it’s possible the team could be looking for the best combination of players at the position.

For now, the competition features Whit Merrifield, Christian Colon, Raul Mondesi and Cheslor Cuthbert, who has limited experience at the position. Colon and Cuthbert do not have options remaining, meaning they must be put through waivers to be sent to the minor leagues. Merrifield and Mondesi have options left.

Cuthbert made his first spring start at second base in a 14-3 victory Monday over the Mariners. He had few opportunities on defense, though he did drop one infield pop-up with runners at first and second. The infield fly rule rendered the misplay as meaningless.

Cuthbert, though, could be valuable in April because the club plans to allocate extra rest for starting third baseman Mike Moustakas, who is coming off a season-ending knee injury.

“We’re going to have to build in some recovery days,” Yost said. “So that opens up some playing time for Cuthbert at third.”

Merrifield and Colon also have the ability to play third base. And in the early days of camp, Merrifield has showcased his versatility, moving all around the diamond. On Monday, he subbed for Eric Hosmer at first base. For now, the battle at second continues.

“It’s a good group of candidates,” Yost said. “We’re not going to go wrong any way we go.”

Butera will rest for a couple days

Reserve catcher Drew Butera is expected to miss a couple of more days while recovering from what Yost called a minor Grade 1 strain of his left oblique.

Butera first experienced tightness in the oblique after being struck in the side by a fastball in the dirt last week. He was scratched from a start on Sunday and sat out again Monday. Yost has described the rest as precautionary.

Butera is set to compete in the World Baseball Classic for Team Italy. The Italian team will open the tournament on March 9 against Mexico at Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Zapopan, Mexico.

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