What an interesting Wednesday for the Kansas City Royals. Before the game with the Boston Red Sox, the Royals called up infielder Johnny Giavotella and put LHP Jonathan Sanchez on the 15-day disabled list with biceps tendinitis. Then for Wednesday’s game, Manager Ned Yost put Giavotella in the lineup as the designated hitter, Billy Butler at first base and Irving Falu at third base. Regulars Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer got the day off and the Royals Twitterverse responded favorably to the moves. If you call bewilderment, frustration and anger favorable.
The Sanchez to the DL move was a surprise, but the Royals replacing him with Giavotella was more of a surprise. Usually, a team moves a position player with a position player and a pitcher with a pitcher. But not this time.
With the Thursday off day, the Royals won’t need to replace Sanchez until next Tuesday against the Texas Rangers. With the current roster, the Royals could go with Nate Adcock, Luis Mendoza or wait for it, Vin Mazzaro. There’s a chance the team could call up Ryan Verdugo, who is on the 40-man roster and pitching pretty well for the AAA Omaha Storm Chasers with a 2.87 ERA, a 1.63 strikeout to walk ratio and a 1.213 WHIP. Verdugo doesn’t give up a lot of hits, but he leads the Chasers with 19 walks. But it’s more likely the Royals will use Adcock, Mendoza or Mazzaro as a spot starter.
So why is Giavotella with the Royals? According to General Manager Dayton Moore, the Royals will face left handed pitchers over the next week or so and Giavotella gives the team a right handed bat. In Omaha, Giavotella hit .331/.408/.504 with 25 RBI and five home runs. He also drew 18 walks and 11 strikeouts. Giavotella’s offense and being right handed were some of the reasons he joined the Royals.
But what about his defense? For now, the Royals plan to use Chris Getz as the everyday second baseman. There’s no denying Getz is playing well, with a .288/.338/.424 average and good defense. The Royals won’t sit Hosmer or Moustakas for extended periods of time, so unless Giavotella plays second base against left handed pitchers, most of Giavotella’s time with the Royals will be on the bench. I’m sure Giavotella and Mitch Maier will become good buddies.
To be honest, this move is maddening to some Royals fans. Giavotella was expected to be the Royals second baseman of the future and be the starting second baseman this season. Instead, Giavotella was sent to Omaha and Getz and Yuni Betancourt shared time at second, at least until Betancourt got hurt. With this latest move, the Royals are treating Giavotella less like a prized prospect and more like organizational filler.
But then again, perhaps the Royals had little choice but to call up Giavotella. With injuries to right handers Salvador Perez, Lorenzo Cain and Betancourt, the Royals have a left handed heavy lineup of Jarrod Dyson, Getz, Alex Gordon, Hosmer, Maier and Moustakas. And with Giavotella’s strong offense, he does provide a right handed bat.
But how long will Giavotella be in Kansas City? In his projected role, it’s likely he will go back to Omaha when Betancourt comes back from the DL. Or Giavotella might stay if Getz gets hurt or if he plays his way to a permanent spot on the roster. Either way, many fans are wondering what the Royals are doing with Johnny Giavotella. Time will tell.