Welcome back to In Some Depth, the weekly tour of the league's depth charts and playing time situations. The fantasy maxim holds that talent trumps playing time, but in many leagues, playing time is often a scarce commodity. Often you need to find the least damaging option for your fifth outfielder, second catcher, or third middle infielder.
With only a half-dozen or so games in the books, there has not been much change since the end of spring training. But here are a few infield situations worth monitoring as we shake the cobwebs.
Without any further ado...
Starter: Steve Lombardozzi
Next: Jonathan Schoop, Ryan Flaherty
It seems like the Orioles have been struggling to fill the second base spot ever since it became evident Brian Roberts could not stay healthy for more than a week at a time. The Orioles no longer have to worry about whether Roberts is returning to the lineup, but their options have not improved much. The Jim Johnson-Jemile Weeks trade yielded little resolution for the O's, as Weeks' unsurprising spring line (7-for-41 with nine strikeouts) resulted in the trade for Steve Lombardozzi. Lombardozzi appears to be the man at second, starting five of the Orioles' first seven games. Ryan Flaherty and and Jonathan Schoop were also kicked around during spring training, but they have been splitting time at third in place of the injured Manny Machado. Lombardozzi also has the ability to play other positions in the infield or outfield to stick in the lineup once Machado crowds the infield or if the O's decide to give Schoop more at-bats at second (assuming Schoop sticks on the major league roster).
Blue Jays SS
Starter: Jonathan Diaz
Next: Ryan Goins, Maicer Izturis
Injured: Jose Reyes
It took all of one at-bat for Jose Reyes to land on the 15-day DL with a hamstring issue. Most assumed Maicer Izturis would be the first to take over the position, but it looks like the Jays would prefer to keep him at second most days. That means Jonathan Diaz is now the 12th player to start at short for the Jays since the start of the 2011 season. Diaz showed little average or power in the minor leagues, but this is a team that allowed Munenori Kawasaki to play every day last year while Reyes was out. Diaz's glove should keep him in the lineup...at least until Reyes returns. Even then, Reyes is not known for his durability, so Diaz could be back at short before long.
Starter: Dan Uggla
Next: Ramiro Pena
Lurking: Tommy La Stella, Tyler Pastornicky
Remember when Tommy La Stella was supposed to challenge Dan Uggla for the Braves' starting second base gig? A .941 OPS in the Grapefruit League from Uggla quickly dispensed of that position battle. But the performance has dropped a bit since the Braves went north, and Uggla has as many hits as strikeouts (five apiece) through 20 at-bats. While it's too early to draw too many conclusions, Uggla has enough of a track record to give me some pause that either La Stella may get a shot at some point, or Tyler Pastornicky could get an extended look once he's fully healthy again. Uggla is in line to make a bunch of money through 2016, but the already hobbled Braves figure to be in a tough NL East battle with the Nationals.
White Sox 2B
Starter: Marcus Semien
Next: Leury Garcia
Injured: Gordon Beckham (oblique)
Gordon Beckham injured his oblique in the middle of camp, and his recovery is currently up in the air. He began a minor league rehab stint last week, but his side flared up and he sat out the weekend. Marcus Semien has served as the team's primary second baseman in Beckham's stead, and the former is a somewhat intriguing product of the team's farm system. Semien had more walks than strikeouts in the minors last year on his way to a .401 OBP across three levels, but he has 31 strikeouts over 101 career MLB plate appearances (he debuted last September). Semien may be able to hold onto a utility role if he can re-discover his on-base skills. Otherwise, the backup job may remain Garcia's once Beckham returns.