03/25/12 4:24 PM ET
Giavotella optioned; Getz, Yuni to share second
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
Giavotella, who finished last season as the regular second baseman, came into camp expected to continue in the job, but he was nudged out by Chris Getz and Yuniesky Betancourt.
The Royals also optioned outfielder Jarrod Dyson and pitcher Vin Mazzaro to Omaha. Re-assigned to Minor League camp were pitcher Zach Miner, catcher Cody Clark and infielders Tony Abreu and Irving Falu. Outfielder Greg Golson was dealt to the Chicago White Sox for cash and assigned to their Triple-A club.
Although Giavotella hit just .250 (11-for-44) in Cactus League games, manager Ned Yost said he was sent to Omaha to work on improving his defense. Yost said that Getz, a strong defensive player, and Betancourt, signed as a backup infielder, would share second base.
"Johnny was three days away from hitting .350. That wasn't the issue. It was the defense," Yost said. "Johnny is a much better defender than he was at this time last year, but we had two better defensive options in Betancourt and Getz."
Yost isn't designating either of them as the starting second baseman.
"We'll play them both there, we'll mix-and-match now," Yost said.
Getz began last season as the Royals' regular second baseman and hit .255 in 118 games and also stole 21 bases. He was the Chicago White Sox regular at second as a rookie in 2009. Betancourt was the regular shortstop last year for Milwaukee and in 2010 for the Royals, but he played a lot of second base in his career in Cuba.
"Like I told Johnny, it wasn't anything that he did," Yost said. "It was just that Getz came into camp a totally different player, one that I didn't expect to see and, quite frankly, I thought Yuni would be serviceable at second base, but I didn't think he'd be nearly as good at second base as he's been. So we had two players that showed up that were better options defensively for us."
What has impressed Yost about Getz has been an upgrade in his batting skills in camp. Yost also mentioned that someone pointed out that while the Royals have been 28 games under .500 in the last two seasons, they've been just six games under when Getz starts at second base.
"So there's something there," Yost said. "He's a very heady player, and I told Getzy this morning that when he showed up to camp, I saw no way for him to make our club. But he came as a totally different offensive player -- to his credit."
Getz was hitting .296 in the Cactus League and Betancourt .244 before Sunday's game.
Giavotella was the likely No. 2 hitter in the Royals' batting order, but that slot now might be filled by Getz or center fielder Lorenzo Cain, who was hitting second Sunday. Cain would provide a right-handed break between left-handed-hitting Alex Gordon and Eric Hosmer, but Getz would mean three lefties at the top of the lineup.
"Which I have no problem with, because all three hit left-handers very well," Yost said. "But I don't mind Cain in the [No. 2 spot], especially the way he's swinging the bat right now. I like power coming around at the top of the order. I like that pop up there. I like Alex Gordon at the top of the order. When that lineup turns around and you see Alex walking to the plate, I feel good."
By being with Omaha, Giavotella will be able to play every day rather than spending time on the bench with Kansas City.
"He needs to continue to focus on his defense," Yost said. "Johnny can hit, I'm not worried about Johnny's hitting. Johnny is a lot like Billy Butler -- he's going to hit, there's just no way around it."
The speedy Dyson's fate was sealed by the Royals' acquisition of outfielder Jason Bourgeois from the Houston Astros.
"If we didn't make the deal for Bourgeois, [Dyson] would have probably been here, but it sets us up better with a platoon situation on the back end of our bench with [left-handed-hitting Mitch] Maier and [the right-handed-hitting] Bourgeois," Yost said.
Dyson, a left-handed hitter, is a burner who stole 11 bases last year for the Royals and 38 for Omaha. Yost believes that Dyson has a chance to become an everyday player in the Majors if he makes some adjustments at the plate.
"There are players that intimidate you when they come to the plate," Yost said. "Barry Bonds was one, [Gary] Sheffield was one. But, in a strange sense, Dyson intimidates the opposition, too -- if he can get to the point where he can use his legs where he can hit the ball on the ground, where he can bunt, take walks. He is a very intimidating player, because they know the havoc he can raise once he's on base. But he's still in a pull fly-ball mode, which is a mindset that he's going to have to adjust to become more than just a pinch-runner, defensive replacement at the big league level. I don't want to see him become just a pinch-runner the rest of his career."
Dyson hit .316 in 10 Cactus League games with three steals.
Mazzaro, who came from the Oakland Athletics in the trade for outfielder David DeJesus prior to last season, fell behind the competition for either a starting or bullpen job. He had a 6.23 ERA in four games. He'll be used as a starter with Omaha.
Catcher Ryan Eigsti, a late addition to camp, also was re-assigned to the Minor Leagues.
The moves left the Royals' camp roster at 37, including disabled list catchers Salvador Perez and Manny Pina and injured pitcher Joakim Soria.
Yost spent Sunday morning informing the players who were cut, always a difficult task for a manager.
"Gio and Dyson were tough for me because they're two of my favorites," Yost said. "I like those guys on the club, because they bring a real energy with them. But we gotta do what we gotta do."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.