Colon ready when called upon in backup role

Colon ready when called upon in backup role

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals stressed throughout the offseason that the second-base job was up for grabs this spring.

Omar Infante, the incumbent, was coming off a dreadful offensive year -- .220 with a .234 on-base percentage. Christian Colon, the challenger, was a postseason hero in 2014 and '15.

But the competition, if there was one, never intensified. Or even get off the ground.

Infante came into camp healthy after having surgery in November to shave a painful bone spur in his right elbow. Infante said he returned to weight lifting for the first time in three years. 

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During Spring Training, Infante looked smooth and agile in the field, while also hitting .356.

"He just looked sharp, like his old self," manager Ned Yost said.

Colon struggled offensively, starting spring by going 0-for-23, though he did hit into some hard luck at times. But he finished batting just .167, and by the final 10 days of camp, it appeared obvious that Infante had held off the challenger.

Colon professes that he is not all that disheartened.

"It's all about the team," Colon said. "Whoever is helping out the team the most is going to play. At the end of the day … it's Game 1. We have 161 games to go. Can't get down about things like that. Just got to keep working hard."

The 26-year-old admits he wishes he had shown a little more offensively.

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"I'd be lying to you if I didn't want to get the job," Colon said. "But we have a great group of guys here, and I'll be in my role. Eventually, I'll do my best when I play.

"I'll be ready when they call me. All you can concentrate on is when you get called on, be ready. Right now, my job is going to be to come off the bench. But it's not how you start, it's how you finish."

Colon knows how much the Royals value defense, perhaps way more than other teams, and he tried to make that part of his game a priority in camp.

"I worked hard defensively," Colon said. "That was one of my goals. I felt really good about that.

"Offensively, I got in that skid early on. But after that, I put some good at-bats together. I was really just trying to get my timing down. But you know, those decisions aren't up to me. I have to focus on bringing the best Christian Colon to the club. I'll be fine."

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.