Royals Move Wilson Betemit Back to the Forefront in Infield Shuffle

DETROIT, MI - APRIL 10: Wilson Betemit #24 of the Kansas City Royals hits a seventh inning RBI double while playing the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on April 10, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Prior to this weekend's series against the Tigers in Detroit, Wilson Betemit had not been a major part of the Kansas City attack. Ante-dating the battle at Comerica, Betemit had just two starts and 13 PAs to his credit in 2011. Betemit started all three games against the Tigers however, capping the weekend with a 4-4 performance that also included a walk and a stolen base.

Mike Aviles, it should be said, was nowhere to be seen in Michigan. Aviles went 0-12 in the brief Chicago series pushing his batting average down near .100. Coupled with only one walk and three errors at third, and we have a hitter who appears to be headed towards the organizational doghouse. Again. Aviles did earn the Opening Day job over Betemit, but he wasn't able to hold his job after a bad week.

Earlier last week, Yost had this to say:

"We’re tied solely to one player at that position. We’ll keep mixing both in and see what happens."

 

Betemit wasn't spectacular prior to Sunday... and he earned a third consecutive start. After Sunday, it's hard to imagine he'll be out of the lineup anytime soon.

The best Royal lineup probably has both Aviles and Betemit, with Aviles replacing Chris Getz at second base. Getz however, is having the week of his life. Getz is hitting .345 with (presumptively) good defense and is now Yost's preferred lead off man. Needless to say, Getz isn't this good, but that doesn't really matter. It wouldn't make sense to stop playing him now.

At short, Alcides Escobar is quite plainly, the man for the job. Escobar, at the plate at least, was verring close to "we need to give this guy a day off to clear his mind" territory, but he managed two hits on Sunday, raising his average to .200. Aviles wasn't going to replace him at SS, but now even an ocassional spot start looks unlikely for the next few days.

This is a big year for Mike Aviles, and he needs to play well to establish himself as at least a utility infielder. For now, Aviles might be best off hoping that he gets traded to the Phillies.

But to return to Betemit: a larger role for Wilson isn't a bad thing. Betemit posted a 141 OPS+ last season, which for a Royal is a Ruthian number. He might be capable of another similar performance and he might have some trade value at the deadline. Yost's handling of Aviles provides the same lesson for Betemit, but also suggests that the full time job can be his with a well-timed hot streak.

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