The search for middle-infield help took the Royals outside their organization Tuesday when they claimed Pedro Ciriaco on waivers from San Diego.
Ciriaco, 27, is batting .228 this season in 51 games, primarily as a backup, for the Padres and Boston Red Sox. He was designated for assignment last Friday by the Padres less than a month after they acquired him from Boston.
Initial indications suggest the Royals did not acquire Ciriaco — a light-hitting, right-handed batter — to fill a starting role.
“He’s an athletic guy who can play multiple positions,” general manager Dayton Moore said. “He has some speed. Those are important attributes for any team but especially in our ballpark and the type of team we are.
“We need speed and versatility. He can serve as a quality utility player for us moving forward, but I don’t where it’s going to stand on Friday.”
While the Royals had to place Ciriaco immediately on their 40-man roster, they aren’t required to set their 25-man playing roster until just prior to Friday’s game against Detroit at Kauffman Stadium.
Moore’s precise characterization of the acquisition suggests further moves are possible in the interim, but he declined to address what those moves might be.
Ciriaco is out of options, which means he can’t be sent to the minors without clearing waivers.
A native Dominican, Ciriaco signed in 2003 with Arizona as a non-drafted free agent. He spent five-plus years in the Diamondbacks’ system before a July 31, 2010, trade sent him to Pittsburgh.
Ciriaco remained with the Pirates through 2011, although he spent much of his time at Class AAA Indianapolis, before becoming a free agent and signing with Boston on Jan. 3, 2012.
The Red Sox provided Ciriaco with his first significant big-league playing time last season, and he responded by batting .293 in 76 games. He also stole 16 bases in 19 attempts.
But Ciriaco batted just .216 this season in 51 at-bats over 28 games before a June 14 trade sent him to San Diego for compensation yet to be determined (either a player or cash). He batted .238 in 23 games for the Padres.