KC infielder starting at multiple positions as he battles Merrifield, Mondesi
By Owen Perkins
Special to MLB.com |
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Christian Colon has been to a handful of training camps with the Royals, and he has parts of three seasons in the Majors under his belt. But as he tries to win a spot on his third straight Opening Day roster, it's been a uniquely competitive spring for the infielder.
"Every spring I try to do the best I can and help the team win," Colon said before Saturday's 4-4 tie with the Indians. "But this one's a little different just because of the no options and you've got to make the team. I just want to be part of this group, part of the 25, and help the Kansas City Royals get back to the postseason."
Colon, 27, is in a heated competition for the starting second-base job with Whit Merrifield -- who led all Royals with 55 starts at second in '16 -- and Raul Mondesi, who made 40 starts from his July 26 callup through the end of the season. Colon made 29 starts at second and another 10 at short while playing 54 games over three stints last season.
"This group is very talented," Colon said. "We've got a lot of young, talented infielders. You've got to just keep up with them. At the same time, we've created a culture here where it's about winning first and foremost over anything. So that helps a lot -- just to go out there and concentrate on winning."
Colon is hitting his stride at the right time, going 5-for-11 over the past week, including a 3-for-4 spree with his first spring homer over his past two games entering Saturday.
"The timing is finally coming," Colon said. "Some guys, it takes 10 at-bats, some other guys it takes 30 or 40 at-bats. Just timing and knowing what you can do and the type of hitter you are."
Colon is hitting .344 (11-for-32) with three doubles and a homer in the Cactus League through Saturday. Merrifield was hitting .289 (11-for-38) with a double and two triples, and Mondesi was lighting up the league at .433 (13-for-30) with two doubles and two homers.
On Saturday, Colon made his fifth start at shortstop, getting a chance to show his versatility, while Merrifield started at second and Mondesi rested a tight back. Colon has also had four starts at second and three at third.
"Both [Colon and Merrifield], we're trying to move around a lot, but they can play anywhere in the infield," manager Ned Yost said. "Second is probably where Colon's most comfortable and his best position. He was signed as a shortstop."
With Merrifield having started at five positions last season -- second (55 starts), left (11), right (three), third (three) and first (one) -- Colon is working to feel at home in more spots on the diamond.
Ultimately, Colon is working to give the Royals the best shot at getting back to October -- and making Yost's final roster decisions as tough as possible.
"Any time you get in the lineup is a good time," Colon said.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.