Since the Kansas City Royals designated utility man Emilio Bonifacio for assignment, I’ve provided my fair share of complaint on the topic. Now, with the daily sounds of baseball brightening my mood, I feel the need to look on the bright side of this issue. KC’s lineup looks stronger than ever, and talented players fans will genuinely miss now fight for the final spots on the roster.
In short, the Royals have questions, but the questions they’re asking constantly hint at relevance and success. One phrase I admit to personally overusing is “a good problem to have,” but I gotta say it — KC is a team rife with good problems to have right now. One of the most intriguing and commonly talked-about is that of Danny Valencia and the roster confusion regarding backup infielders.
With a limited number of available roster spots, it seems that KC actually hopes Valencia can be their one and only backup infielder on the 25-man roster this year. This means he would be second string at shortstop if any injuries (knock on wood, Royals fans) befell Alcides Escobar.
Valencia has exactly zero MLB starts at shortstop, or at second base, where KC also expects him to fill in. Although everyone involved seems cautiously optimistic about getting average defense from Valencia at those spots, this plan invokes a fair share of concern.
Someone will get injured this year for a significant period of time. Don’t hate me when it happens; it’s just a matter of probability. For a team that will rely on their middle-of-the-field defense to stay strong for numerous starters that pitch to contact, hoping for mediocrity from the roster’s only backup seems like a considerably hazardous risk.
If either Escobar or Omar Infante go down, will the Royals really put all their hopes in Valencia’s defense? Let’s hope not. The option is always there to bring up either Christian Colon or Pedro Ciriaco if an infielder gets hurt, but how many games will KC test it with Valencia in a unfamiliar defensive spot?
This nagging question presents a new kind of fear for Royals fans, but it’s a kind of fear that those who love the game can appreciate. It’s the “every game counts” kind of fear — a thrill that only comes to fans of teams that are nationally relevant.
There are only 20 more days until Opening Day. It’s time to get excited.