After injuring his shoulder twice this season, it might make some sense to move the Kansas City Royals shortstop to the outfield for a few reasons.
It’s not uncommon for infielders to move to the outfield and some might argue that it’s easier for infielders to learn the outfield. Whether it be to accommodate other players on the roster, a better fit, or to move to a less demanding spot in the field, there are several big names in baseball history who have successfully made the transition. Guys like Robin Yount, Jackie Robinson, Pete Rose, and Craig Biggio were moved from their natural infield positions. The Kansas City Royals should do something similar for shortstop Adalberto Mondesi for a number of reasons.
Mondesi, 24, missed a significant amount of time diving for a ball in foul territory in mid-July. He returned on September 1, picking up where he left off but re-injured the same shoulder last Sunday diving for a ball hit between second and third base. He’s done for this season and is set to have surgery next week with a recovery time of 5-6 months. The earliest he would return if all goes well would be March 1, which would align perfectly with the start of Spring Training.
Nicky Lopez did well in Mondesi’s absence the first time and is hitting 0.476 over his last 7 games, despite dealing with a hand injury. Lopez, 24, is reportedly going to start the Whit Merrifield exercise and diet plan once the season is over with the hope that he can see reap the same benefits of his teammate. He already plays terrific defense and seems to get better with more playing time with shortstop (or second base) really the only option available to him for regular playing time.
If you recall back in May, Whit Merrifield was very open to playing more in the outfield to accommodate Lopez’s playing time and Mondesi should have the same mindset to preserve his health.
"“Now, it’s best for this team for me to play outfield and I’m excited for that challenge,” Merrifield said. “I’m ready for that challenge. I’m excited for Nicky. He’s a great kid, a great player from what I’ve seen. I’m excited to see what he can do up here. I really think he’s going to help our team.” – Kansas City Star"
The Royals also have a highly touted shortstop who will be making his way through the minors and to the big league club within the next few years in Bobby Witt Jr., so making room for him to play makes sense as well. Granted, I am fully aware that Mondesi has never played in the outfield in either the big league or the minors.
I also understand there are potential risks in the outfield with diving catches that Mondesi could re-injure his shoulder but one could argue that those come fewer and farther between in the outfield than the infield where a player has less time to react. Mondesi’s bat and speed on the base paths are extremely valuable as a shortstop and could be an asset as a centerfielder as well. Speaking of, both Bubba Starling and Brett Phillips have not looked great this season, so I wouldn’t exactly classify that position as locked down.
Both players could certainly see time next season, but perhaps platooning left field if both Mondesi moves to centerfield and Alex Gordon retires or moves on to another team. The fact that his injury has happened twice in the span of two months now should be eye-opening for Dayton Moore that shortstop may not be the best long-term fit for Adalberto Mondesi.
Royals fans shouldn’t have to look too far to see one of their make a successful transition from the infield to the outfield in Alex Gordon. And I’d say that one worked out pretty well.