Merrifield notches hit in big league debut

Merrifield notches hit in big league debut

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals optioned infielder Christian Colon to Triple-A Omaha and selected the contract of versatile utility man Whit Merrifield between games of Wednesday's day-night doubleheader against the Red Sox.

Merrifield promptly made his Major League debut in Wednesday night's 5-2 loss to Boston, and he got his first Major League hit off Red Sox left-hander David Price. Merrifield found out about his promotion Tuesday night.

"Actually, we had just finished playing Chambers Bay out there in Washington," Merrifield said. "I got off 18, looked at my phone and our manager [Brian Poldberg] texted, 'Hey, I know you're playing golf, text me. Text me when you get done.' I knew then."

The news leaked out Wednesday morning when Merrifield's sister broke the promotion on Twitter.

"Yeah, that's what I heard," Merrifield said. "I got on her a good bit about that. There was some miscommunication, because she was asleep. I talked to my mom and dad and told them the whole situation. I think in all the excitement, the hush-hush of it all kind of got lost. So we had a nice little talk."

Merrifield's parents interviewed

Merrifield flew out in his first at-bat in the third, but he singled sharply to left in his next at-bat.

Right-hander Alec Mills also made his Major League debut, giving up one run in two-thirds of an inning.

Mills gets Holt out in debut

"It was a little nerve-wracking," said Mills, who was promoted just for the day since the Royals were playing a twin bill. "It didn't go as well as I planned or wanted it to, but it was a blast."

The Royals also designated for assignment outfielder Jose Martinez, who had been hitting .298 at Omaha this season with three homers and 18 RBIs. Martinez, 27, won the Pacific Coast League batting title last season at .384.

Colon, one of the heroes from Game 5 of the World Series last year after driving in the go-ahead run in extra innings, was hitting .250 with no homers and three RBIs.

The move to get Merrifield on the 25-man roster allows manager Ned Yost more flexibility, because Merrifield can play all infield and outfield positions. That flexibility is needed, because the Royals are carrying 13 pitchers and have a three-man bench.

"Looking for versatility, that's exactly it," Yost said. "We've got to carry [13 pitchers] right now. We're extending [Danny] Duffy as a starter, so we're short [in the bullpen]. We've got to protect ourselves on the pitchers' side.

"Plus, [Merrifield] had 16 stolen bases in Triple-A. It's another piece we can use off the bench to help us win a game. If we pinch-hit [Jarrod Dyson] for someone, Whit can play anywhere on the field."

The move also could serve to get Colon more playing time at shortstop at Omaha. With the 50-game suspension of prospect Raul Mondesi for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug, the Royals' only viable alternative if shortstop Alcides Escobar got hurt long-term would be Colon.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.