Versatile Merrifield caught in numbers game

Versatile Merrifield caught in numbers game

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- In other circumstances, Royals farmhand Whit Merrifield would be a fabulous addition to the 25-man roster for manager Ned Yost.

"He's a super utility guy who is very versatile," Yost said.

Super utility guys are those players who can play the outfield and the infield, normally a tremendous asset for managers, not to mention for general managers in terms of roster construction.

And Merrifield, a ninth-round pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, is having a tremendous spring, hitting .333 with an .868 OPS entering Monday's game against the Rangers.

"He's really played well," Yost said.

But Merrifield, who was given the George Brett Award as the Minor League hitter of the year, isn't a likely candidate to make the 25-man roster, though he is still in camp. If the Royals had opted for an eight-man bullpen, perhaps Merrifield's versatility could have earned him a spot.

But Yost has indicated the Royals are leaning toward a seven-man bullpen, which would free up a position player spot on the 25-man roster. It seems likely they will go with Christian Colon as the utility infielder, and either Moises Sierra or Paulo Orlando as the fifth outfielder (Jarrod Dyson is the fourth outfielder).

While Sierra and Orlando don't have Merrifield's versatility defensively, they both hit for more power than Merrifield, who has just 30 homers in five Minor League seasons.

Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.