Yuniesky Betancourt, the Brewers’ regular shortstop last season, has re-signed with the Royals to serve as a utility infielder, that team announced in a statement. He’ll be a backup for Alcides Escobar, one of the key players in the December 2010 deal that brought Betancourt and Zack Greinke to Milwaukee for a quartet of premium prospects.
“We have been looking for a utility infielder who could play short, third and second base and we feel Yuni is a great fit,” Royals GM Dayton Moore said in a press release. “He brings a right-handed bat with some power and is a guy we know fits in well in the clubhouse.”
The Brewers won’t get any Draft compensation for Betancourt because they declined to offer him arbitration after declining his $6 million club option for 2012. He got a $2 million buyout instead, cash that came from the Royals as part of the trade.
The Brewers have already replaced Betancourt with free agent Alex Gonzalez, a similar free-swinger who is considered a better defensive player.
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Center fielder Carlos Gomez is the latest Brewers regular to show up on the injury report. He was supposed to start Monday’s game against the Giants, but complained of a stiff back so Brandon Boggs is playing instead.
It’s a minor setback, but those have been piling up for the Brewers. Of the nine projected Opening Day starters, seven have lost at least a handful of Cactus League innings to a medical issue. Pitcher Zack Greinke (cracked rib), catcher Jonathan Lucroy (fractured finger) and right fielder Corey Hart (rib-cage strain) have not played at all because of more serious injuries, and second baseman Rickie Weeks (groin), shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt (right quadriceps), left fielder Ryan Braun (rib-cage strain) and now Gomez have come out of a game early or missed a start as a precaution. Plus, closer John Axford got a late start because of food poisoning.
First baseman Prince Fielder and third baseman Casey McGehee have been able to stay on their schedules.
Perspective is in order, because none of the setbacks in Brewers camp have threatened a player’s season. Betancourt left Sunday’s game early, but he could be back in action as early as Tuesday. Braun returned to the lineup Monday after exiting Saturday with his rib strain. Weeks’ groin issue seems to have passed. Hart is making significant progress in recent days and was to begin swinging a bat on Monday. Lucroy will have the pin in his finger removed next week and is on track for Opening Day.
Maybe the Brewers are just getting their injuries out of the way early. Better now than during the regular season.
Sunday brought another round of injury worries at Maryvale Baseball Park. The latest to exit early were shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, who complained of right quadriceps tightness after playing only one inning, and Minor League left fielder Caleb Gindl, who sprained his right knee in a scary moment along the foul line.
Gindl was chasing Alcides Escobar’s double when he slid hard into the chain-link fence that separates the playing field from the visitor’s bullpen. He stayed down while Escobar circled the bases for an inside the park home run, and center fielder Carlos Gomez rushed over and signaled the Brewers’ dugout to send help.
Gindl was able to stand, and walked into the Royals bullpen to be examined. Jeremy Reed took over in left field.
Escobar was the second batter of the second inning, and by that time Edwin Maysonet had already replaced Betancourt at shortstop. Betancourt, the Brewers’ projected Opening Day Starter, singled in the bottom of the first, but Casey McGehee was thrown out at home plate to end the inning.
Brewers shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt played right into his scouting report Thursday, committing a pair of throwing errors in the Brewers’ 9-8 loss to the Rockies. The second of his miscues led to an unearned run that loomed large considering the final score.
In the third inning, Betancourt had plenty of time to throw over to retire Rockies pitcher Esmil Rogers but fired high. In the sixth inning, he came in for a soft grounder by pinch-hitter Matt Pagnozzi and, instead of setting to throw, whipped an off-balance toss wide of first base.
“He just didn’t plant his feet and throw,” manager Ron Roenicke said. “Hey, I may think it’s done a certain way, but you see guys all the time that do that. It’s not like nobody else does it. Everybody wants to throw on the run now.”