3/22/2014 8:52 P.M. ET
Royals still expect Infante to play on Opening Day
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Omar Infante has signed a four-year contract to play second base for the Royals. The question is, though, will he play in his first Opening Day with them?
He's been out with a sore right elbow since last Monday, has had a cortisone shot and has played just eight games in Arizona. He missed time with a sore right shoulder earlier.
"I think Omar is going to be ready," manager Ned Yost said on Saturday. "If he has another hiccup, he won't be. But if everything is going to plan, he'll be ready Opening Day."
If Infante won't be ready for the March 31 opener at Detroit, the Royals will have to improvise.
The current assumption is that Danny Valencia would be the only backup infielder. He's a third baseman who has never played second base in pro ball but has been working at that position in this Spring Training.
Still in camp, though, are second baseman Johnny Giavotella and middle infielders Pedro Ciriaco and Jason Donald, who are primarily shortstops but have played second in the Majors.
Meanwhile, shortstop Alcides Escobar was in the lineup for the second straight day and showed no signs of the shoulder problems that plagued him earlier. He made two strong throws, including one from deep in the hole near third base.
He also belted three hits and drove in three runs. Added to the double he had on Friday, Escobar has four straight hits, including three doubles.
"He looks fine, he looks good -- really good with the bat and the glove today," Yost said.
Vargas' impressive spring continues with sharp start
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Jason Vargas' first Spring Training with the Royals continued to be a success on Saturday as he held the Rangers to one run in seven innings in an 8-4 victory.
Vargas, the first Royals starter to reach seven innings, has a 2.14 ERA in a team-high 21 spring innings in which he's allowed just five runs on 22 hits and four walks. He has shown a knack of stranding runners on base.
"I know they're going to get on base, that's how the game is. Sometimes they will, sometimes they won't, but the key is to make that pitch to get you out of that inning," Vargas said.
Vargas surrendered eight hits and a walk but just one run on Saturday.
"He's just boom, boom, boom. He just makes pitches," manager Ned Yost said. "He gives up a hit, he gets back on the mound and makes pitches. That's what he and Jeremy Guthrie do so well. They just make pitches. If they give up a hit, they'll get the next guy to hit into a double play, or the guy after that."
Vargas threw 96 pitches including 63 strikes.
"I was able to get up to close to 100 pitches without feeling really fatigued so that's a good sign," he said.
Vargas also showed his fielding skills, twice going toward the third-base line to grab bouncers and making a long throw to first base.
"I didn't know if I was going to get to that first one, or that second one, but got to it and had enough time so I was able to convert," he said.
Despite his success, Vargas knows the Cactus League is the Cactus League.
"Once Spring Training is over and the lights come on, it's a whole different ballgame and everything counts," he said. "We'll be ready for it."
Duffy endures rough outing amid quest for roster spot
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Left-hander Danny Duffy's campaign to win a bullpen job hit a snag on Saturday, as his two walks were followed by a three-run blast by the Rangers' Michael Choice.
In the eighth inning, Duffy got a strikeout and a groundout before walking Ronald Guzman and Robinson Chirinos.
"I threw a couple of pretty good sliders that [Guzman] swung through and then I just started trying to make the perfect pitch," Duffy said. "I was pumping fastballs and was feeling pretty good, and Choice gets up there and I threw a fastball right belt high and he really slammed it."
Duffy, who lost a rotation spot in competition with Yordano Ventura, has given up six home runs and six walks in 11 innings.
"It's frustrating but we'll get through it," Duffy said.
Hochevar back with team after Tommy John surgery
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Pitcher Luke Hochevar has been back in the Royals' clubhouse for a few days and is looking and feeling good. He underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow last Tuesday.
"I feel great," Hochevar said. "My elbow feels great. The worst thing on me is my shoulder and that's just from hanging my arm on the sling."
His trademark beard also went off before his surgery.
"So they could get the hoses in or whatever," he said. "They said it was a good idea to shave because I'm not going to be able to keep it trimmed up. So I gave my daughter the trimmers and let her go at it. She had a big time."
His daughter Laney is 3 1/2. Now there's a trusting dad.
"I just gave her the ones that are child proof," he said.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.