The Royals say they’re not giving up on second baseman Chris Getz.
But he’s not slotted to be the starter on Opening Day, either.
The Royals seem ready to go with Johnny Giavotella as the everyday player. The diminuitive shortstop (his 5-foot-8 listing is generous) provided the Royals a bit of a spark after his August callup last season. And while his final numbers weren’t great — .247 average, .273 on-base percentage — team brass likes his upside. He’s a scrappy, high-energy player.
Giavotella, 24, a second-round pick in 2008, has been a career .305 hitter in the minor leagues, including .338 in 2011 (Triple A) and .322 in 2010 (Double A). So they expect him to hit enough in the majors to help them overlook his medicore range defensively, though Royals manager Ned Yoster seemed to suggest today that the lack of range might have been a result of a hip injury that required surgery following the season.
“Johnny has got the upper hand in that job,” Yost said. “He’s recovering really, really well from his surgery. I don’t know how much that hampered him last year. He never said a word about it and didn’t even say anything when they left. But it just wasn’t getting any better, and they took care of it.”
Yost added: “I think he’ll get the majority of the playing time at second base.”
That doesn’t mean Getz, a Grosse Pointe South and University of Michigan alum, is out of a job with the Royals. There has been speculation the club will non-tender Getz, who is eligible for arbitration, but Yost today didn’t sound like that was necessarily the case.
“Chris Getz is a valuable piece to our infield, too,” said Yost, “right now.”
Getz, 28, has yet to prove, despite mutliple chances — first with the White Sox, then the Royals — that he’s an everyday major leaguer. He hit .255 in 2011, with next to no punch. In fact, Getz hasn’t hit a home run since 2009, a drought that’s topped 800 at-bats. Of course, Giovatella doesn’t have much power to speak of either.
There’s still value in Getz, however. He’s no Carl Lewis, but he gets down the line in a hurry and is smart on the bases, with 61 steals the last two years. He bunts exceptionally, for sacrifices and hits. He’s a left-handed hitter who hits left-handers well. And he plays some good defense. So if the Royals do decide to let Getz go, he should get some inquiries. If nothing else, he’s valuable as a solid bench player who can make the occasional start, but more often enter late in games for his glove or pinch-running.
Be sure to check back with Covering the Bases, as Tony Paul blogs throughout the day Monday-Wednesday from the winter meetings.