Royals claim Graffanino off waivers

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Infielder Tony Graffanino was claimed
off waivers Tuesday by the Kansas City Royals, returning to the
team that traded him to the Boston Red Sox eight months ago.

"It's a place I'm going where I feel like I'm wanted and I
should get decent playing time there," Graffanino said. "This
wasn't a good situation for me."
He batted .319 in 51 games for the Red Sox after being traded
July 19, then lost his second-base job Boston obtained Mark Loretta
from San Diego on Dec. 7 for catcher Doug Mirabelli.
Although Kansas City has second baseman Mark Grudzielanek,
Graffanino thinks he should get more playing time elsewhere. But he
loved his time in Boston.
"It was probably one of, if not my most favorite place I've
ever played," said Graffanino, who also has been with Atlanta,
Tampa Bay and the Chicago White Sox. "I loved every minute of it,
playing in that stadium [Fenway Park] with those fans."
Graffanino had talked with several teams after last season and
was surprised when Boston offered him salary arbitration. That
meant any other team that signed him would have had to give the Red
Sox a top draft choice.
"All the teams that were talking to me just pulled back,"
Graffanino said early this month. He agreed to a one-year, $2.05
million deal that avoided an arbitration hearing but was told early
in spring training that the Red Sox would try to send him
"I don't know about soured," Graffanino said. "Ideally, I
would have liked for something to have been different and worked
out a little sooner and got me into a place where I had a chance to
maybe earn a spot on a starting position, but what am I going to
complain about?"
He said the Red Sox didn't tell him why he wasn't dealt earlier
and he didn't ask.
Graffanino was a solid defender until Game 2 of the AL playoffs,
when he let Juan Uribe's slow bouncer on a potential double play
roll through his legs. Tadahito Iguchi followed with a three-run
homer for a 5-4 lead. That was the final score, and Chicago went on
to sweep the best-of-three series.
"I was actually excited about today because it's been a tough
spring mentally and physically," Graffanino said. "I'm glad that
it's over and I can move on and get a fresh start."
Royals manager Buddy Bell said with first baseman Doug
Mientkiewicz and third baseman Mark Teahen both left-handed
hitters, he could use Graffanino, who bats right-handed, at both
positions and at second base.
"Graff, obviously, goes in a utility role, but probably a notch
above that," Bell said. "We need to get him in the lineup as much
as we possibly can, whether it is first, third or second. We'll be
able to give those guys a day off here and there. Graff is a good
Major League player. He's a good fit for our team."
Kansas City also claimed right-handed pitcher Steve Andrade off
waivers from the San Diego Padres. Andrade is 13-8 with a 2.65 ERA
in 188 minor league relief appearances. He was 3-2 with a 1.97 ERA
last season with Double-A New Hampshire of the Eastern League.
"He pitched really good against us the couple of times we faced
San Diego, so he's in the mix for that last couple of bullpen
spots," Bell said.