"He wanted to stay back in the warmer weather and get more at-bats and more extensive ground ball work so we left him there," manager Ned Yost said. "He feels pretty good when he's throwing, but he still feels it when he swings."
Infante's right elbow has been irritated and inflamed by a bone spur which is why he was left behind at the Surprise complex. Now the Royals are having a balancing act over whether to risk opening the season with Infante on Monday at Detroit or letting him continue his recovery for a few days and then activate him.
As it now stands, Infante's stay on the disabled list could be backdated well into the Spring Training period. The moment he plays in a regular-season game, of course, the clock re-starts.
"The problem is you don't want to bring a guy up here and then lose all your back days, and let him play three days and then, bam, have to go 15 [days on the disabled list]. You don't want to lose him for 15 days," Yost said.
"You want to make sure that whatever it is, that he's both ready physically and mentally to play the game and compete. … But he's working his tail off, doing all he can right now. We'll just see."
Yost said this is Infante's first go-round with the elbow ailment so it's uncharted territory. Earlier in camp he was bothered by a sore shoulder, something he'd had before and had experience dealing with.
More is expected to be known by Saturday afternoon when the Royals play their second game against the Brewers.
For now it appears that Pedro Ciriaco has the edge if Infante needs a stand-in at second base for a while. Yost said that he's rated pretty even with Jason Donald but Ciriaco, in addition to being a strong defensive player, is also out of Minor League options. Donald, on the other hand, already is under a Minor League contract and can be assigned outright to Triple-A Omaha.
Infante is supposed to bat second in the batting order but, on Friday night in a possible preview of Opening Day, shortstop Alcides Escobar was in the No. 2 spot and Ciricaco was ninth where Escobar was slated.
Escobar batted second often last year before his production fell off.
"He's doing fine," Yost said. "He's real situational. He can bunt, he can run. Probably the best hit-and-run guy we've got on the team so there are things that warrant him hitting second."
If, however, Infante is deemed ready, he'd take the field on Monday at Detroit without being teamed with Escobar in the middle of the infield even once in a game.
"I don't care about that, he's going to be fine with Escobar," Yost said. "The important thing is he's getting his at-bats, he's playing in the field and he feels good. The major decision is on how he's feeling."