The conventional wisdom has been that when Royals prospect Johnny Giavotella was going to get promoted from Triple-A Omaha this season, he would then become the full-time starter at second base.
The organizational philosophy is simple: It’s better for Giavotella to get his at-bats and work on his defense at Omaha rather than sit at the big-league level.
Well, interestingly, Johnny G is up with the Royals, but he has not been given the second base job.
Article continues below ...
In fact, Chris Getz and utility man Irving Falu both remain on the team, giving the Royals three options at second. And, remember that Yuniesky Betancourt probably will come off the disabled list in a week or two.
For now, it appears Giavotella will get only spot starts, like the one on Wednesday night when he started, not at second base, but as the Royals’ designated hitter.
For what it’s worth, Giavotella isn’t complaing.
“Hey, I’m just happy to be in the lineup,” he said. “I’m here to help the team win in any way I can.”
Giavotella, 24, has become the fan favorite to win the second-base job since last summer. But it is Getz who appears to have wrestled that position away from him.
“I’ve been told I will still get my at bats,” Getz said. “I’m not sure how it will all work out. I know we needed another right-handed bat. When we face lefties, you look at our lineup, we can’t flip it all that well.”
That certainly has been on the minds of general manager Dayton Moore and manager Ned Yost. The Royals had not beaten a lefty all season entering Wednesday’s game against Red Sox lefty Jon Lester.
“Johnny will get his opportunities,” Moore said. “I don’t know that it will be a straight platoon but I do know we need a right-handed bat. That’s what we had with Yuni – a right-handed bat with some pop.”
It’s not that the Royals aren’t anxious to see Giavotella win the job. But it’s no secret the organization is greatly concerned with Giavotealla’s defensive shortcomings, especially regarding turning the double play.
“He’s a young guy who will get better in all areas,” Moore said.
What the Royals are fairly certain is that Giavotella can bring to the party offense and enthusiasm. He is not only well-liked by fans, he is well-liked in the clubhouse, too.
Asked what he planned to work on during his call-up, Giavotella didn’t hesitate with his response: “Winning,” he said. “I want to help this team win and turn this around. This is a good team.” Giavotella was called up last summer and after a big start ,cooled off to an overall average of .247 through 46 games. His .273 on-base percentage was less than impressive as well.
Still, Giavotella figured to have the edge over Getz heading into spring training. The Royals didn’t hesitate, though, when Giavotella struggled at the plate and in the field in Arizona, and shipped him out to the minor-league camp with two weeks to go.
Giavotella got off to a slow start at Omaha as well but was hot of late. He was hitting .331 with five homes and 25 RBIs when called up.
“It’s tough to get heated up in Omaha when the season starts because you’re playing in about 12-degree weather,” Giavotella said, smiling. “I don’t know that I got off to a slow start. I was hitting the ball hard but right at people. Lately, some of the balls have started falling in.
“Hopefully that continues here.”
To make room for Giavotella, the Royals placed struggling left-hander Jonathan Sanchez on the disabled list with “biceps tendinitis.”
Sanchez, who is 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA, has witnessed his velocity drop 4-5 MPH in the last year. He isn’t sure when he started feeling the tendinitis.
“I guess it’s been a couple of years,” he said, shrugging his shoulders.
Sanchez also didn’t seem certain how long he would be out or what the healing routine would entail.
“I guess I’ll miss a couple of days and then get back to it,” he said. “I’ll still keep working, training. See what happens.”
The Royals will be able to skip Sanchez’ turn in the rotation because of the off-day Thursday, and won’t have to name a replacement until next week.