Tigers-Royals series will be notable for Infante's absence
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Omar Infante spent his glory days with the Detroit Tigers, who signed him as teenager in 1998. He's spent the past 2 1/2 seasons with the Kansas City Royals in the twilight of his career.
When the Tigers and Royals open a four-game series Thursday at Kauffman Stadium, the 34-year-old Infante, who played his first big-league game with Detroit in 2002, won't be in uniform.
The Royals designated Infante for assignment Wednesday with a .239 batting average and a puny .600 OPS. The Royals still owe Infante about $14 million on a contract that runs through 2017.
General manager Dayton Moore acknowledged "the timing wasn't perfect."
"We've got other options," Moore said. "But at the end of the day, we're going to play (Christian) Colon and we're going to play (Whit) Merrifield. It's not fair to Omar. It's not fair to the other 24 players on the roster. It's not fair to (manager) Ned (Yost) and the coaching staff. It's not fair to our fans. Ultimately, I'm accountable for those decisions."
Merrifield is hitting .330 since the Royals called him up last month, while Colon is hitting .288. Merrifield, who can play all over the field, had two hits, scored two runs and drove in another in the Royals' 9-4 victory Wednesday over the Cleveland Indians. Colon started at second and had a hit and scored a run.
Infante was set back by injuries last season and not on the 2016 postseason roster because of a pulled oblique.
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"I don't know if (injuries) had a lot to do with his offensive struggles," Moore said. "It was a noticeable difference in the way he was throwing the baseball. We could all see that."
Yost noted Infante had lost range at second base. A younger Infante also played at third, shortstop and the outfield, but he has been mostly restricted to second in recent years.
"He played a long time," Moore said. "He's been a part of a lot of winning teams. It's a credit to him. He'll find a spot. He'll be able to help somebody in the major leagues."
After sweeping the Indians to move into a first-place tie with Cleveland, the Royals host the Tigers, who are two games back.
Jose Iglesias hit a two-run homer off Chris Sale in a 5-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday to extend his hitting streak to 13 games.
"I just try to compete every at-bat," Iglesias told MLB.com. "Every at-bat matters. I take every at-bat like it's my last one."
Justin Verlander will be the Tigers' starter for the series opener. Salvador Perez, who has homered in the past two Royals games, doesn't mind facing Verlander, having a .477 average (21 for 44) off him with two homers and 13 RBIs.
It will be the second straight night the Royals are squaring off against a former Cy Young Award winner after beating Corey Kluber on Wednesday. Kluber gave up eight runs, matching his career worst outing, in the 9-4 defeat.
The Royals will counter with Danny Duffy, who will be making his seventh start after beginning the season as a reliever. Duffy is 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA in June.