Infante healthy, set to battle for second-base job

Veteran says he's feeling good after elbow surgery to remove spur

Infante healthy, set to battle for second-base job

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- So, what was Royals second baseman Omar Infante's reaction to now having to compete for the second-base job with Christian Colon?

A shrug of the shoulders.

"No, I understand," Infante said. "It's a business, you know? If you're going to do well as a team, you have to have competition. It's all right with me. I will try to do the best I can do.

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"They have a lot of talent here. That's baseball. If I have to compete, I'll compete."

Infante is coming off a disappointing 2015 offensive season. While manager Ned Yost raved about Infante's defense last season -- calling it just short of "spectacular" -- Infante never made the proper adjustments at the plate and turned in a .552 OPS. He hit two homers with 44 RBIs.

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That is why Yost and general manager Dayton Moore have opened up the competition for the second-base job.

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"We have to play the best players," Moore said.

While Infante delivered a career-high 66 RBIs in 2014 and had a .924 OPS in the World Series that year, he did so with a nagging bone spur in his right elbow. And he thought he could play through that discomfort last season.

"It didn't hurt a lot," Infante said. "But I couldn't do anything I wanted to. We tried ice all the time. It didn't help."

So Infante finally had surgery last November to have the spur shaved down. He still is in the rehab process this spring and likely won't be able to play in the field for the first seven to 10 Spring Training games.

"I could have played with [the spur] again, but I can do way better now," Infante said. "It is much better."

In fact, Infante said he has been able to do something he hasn't in years -- upper body weightlifting.

"For three years, I really couldn't do much because of my elbow and then my shoulder," Infante said. "But now this [surgery] helped a lot."

Indeed, Infante appears to have added muscle in his chest and shoulders.

"Oh, yeah, because I feel much better," Infante said. "I've done more weightlifting. I feel more powerful. I feel like I'll have more power this year. My legs feel good. My upper body is better."

The Royals haven't seen much power from Infante. They signed him to a four-year deal after he hit .318 with 10 homers, 51 RBIs and a .795 OPS with the Tigers in 2013.

The Royals long for that type of production at that position.

"But we know he can play terrific defense," Yost said. "But I'm keeping an open mind about [Colon]. We'll see what happens."

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.