Derailed Again

Royals infielder Bianchi has Tommy John surgery





SURPRISE, Ariz.—Infielder Jeff Bianchi's career seemed back on track again until spring training.

Bianchi, a 2005 second-round pick out of Lampeter (Pa.) High, had season-ending Tommy John surgery in March. He also had shoulder surgery in 2006.

"Everyone is dealt with different cards," Bianchi said. "I was dealt with these cards. It's not that I'm frustrated or upset. I've just got to go work through it. Some people go through different things. I think from the result of everything that I've gone through I've become a better person and player from it. It's just another stepping stone I have to overcome."

After struggling offensively in 2007 and 2008, Bianchi's bat took a big step forward last year. He combined to hit .308/.358/.435 with nine home runs, 70 RBIs and 22 stolen bases between high Class A Wilmington and Double-A Northwest Arkansas. He hit .265 with two home runs in the Arizona Fall League and was added to the 40-man roster.

Bianchi's right elbow began bothering him early in spring training. He had it checked by team doctor Steve Joyce and went to see specialist Lewis Yocum in Los Angeles for a second opinion.

"There's definitely ligament damage," Bianchi said. "I got down to Arizona and tried to get back into the flow of things when I started feeling it. It's just something that came on. It's not that I was trying different arm angles or doing one specific thing. It's just something that started increasing."

Bianchi returned to camp to see if he could play through it, but after a few days he opted for the surgery.

"We didn't want to be waiting a month or two, push it into next season," he said.

Bianchi has watched infielder Mike Aviles play well and pain free in spring training after having Tommy John surgery last July. If all goes well, Bianchi could be close to 100 percent by spring training in 2011.

ROYALTIES

• Third baseman Mike Moustakas, the second overall pick in the 2007 draft, strained his right oblique swinging in spring training and could miss the first two weeks of the Double-A season.

• The Royals released infielder Joshua Johnson, a 2004 third-round pick and the son of former big leaguer Larry Johnson. Joshua hit .241 in 498 minor league games.