Chris Getz may not be an offensive machine.
But his smooth glove is keeping him in the major leagues.
The Royals on Sunday announced that Getz and veteran Yuniesky Betancourt will start the season sharing the second-base duties. That means prospect Johnny Giavotella is heading to the minor leagues.
From Kansas City manager Ned Yost:
“I told Getzie this morning that when he showed up to camp, I saw no way for him to make our club. But he came in as a totally different offensive player.
“And quite frankly, I thought Yuni would be serviceable at second base, but I didn’t think he’d be near as good as he’s been. We had two guys who, actually, showed up who were better options defensively.”
Getz, 28, of Grosse Pointe South High and the University of Michigan, has batted just .254 with a .315 on-base percentage in his first four major league seasons, split between the White Sox and Royals.
But his defense and his speed — he’s 62-of-74 on stolen-base attempts — have commanded a fair share of attention since he was a fourth-round draft pick by Chicago in 2005.
This spring, though, he’s actually been better with the bat than Betancourt (.233/.283 OBP) and Giavotella (.250/.267), hitting .276 in 29 at-bats over 15 games.
Still, in Kansas City circles, Sunday’s decision was a bit of a stunner. Giavotella was their 2011 minor league player of the year, and they sat Getz down last September so he could play. But Yost said Giovatella, a second-round pick in 2008, needs more seasoning on defense.
(Frankly, it’s not a good sign if Betancourt is considered the superior option in the field.)
Getz probably stands to get most of the starts at second base, mostly because Betancourt also can slide over to shortstop or third base. Getz likely will hit near the bottom of the order. He’s been tested many times at No. 1 and 2, but his on-base percentage isn’t good enough. Plus, if he hits second for K.C., the Royals would have three consecutive left-handed batters — Alex Gordon and Eric Hosmer are locked in.
Getz will have to perform to stay with the Royals, of course. Giavotella’s minor-league stint could be short-lived. He’s hit .329 in his last two minor league seasons, including .338 at Triple A last year.
More from Yost, to the Star:
“He didn’t hit (in spring training) over the course of 44 at-bats, but that’s not a (reliable) sample. Johnny can hit. Johnny was two or three days away from hitting .350. The issue was the defense.”
In other Royals news, the club assigned former Tigers pitcher Zach Miner to minor league camp. The right-hander, who hasn’t pitched in the major leagues since 2009, only got a limited look this spring.