Aside from their recent excruciating 11-game losing streak, figuring out how to improve their rotation and offense, and finding a way to bring consistency to their bullpen, the biggest issue now hovering over the KC Royals is their shortstop.
Just where is Adalberto Mondesi, and how soon might he be back playing for the Royals?
The answer to the first question is easy. As of Sunday night, Mondesi, whose right oblique injury stole the entire April portion of his season and threatens the whole of May, was still listed on the roster of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, Kansas City’s Double-A farm club.
Mondesi, sent there on an injury rehabilitation assignment, started at shortstop Thursday and has played in every Naturals’ game since.
Now, 610 Sports Radio’s Josh Vernier reports Mondesi is changing locations and teams:
Mondesi moving up to Omaha is, of course, excellent news for him and the Royals. It means the club and its medical advisors are satisfied with what they saw of Mondesi with the Naturals and believe he’s ready to take the next step in his journey back to the big club.
Mondesi didn’t post stellar Double-A numbers. In fact, he went hitless over six at-bats in his first two games before rapping a pair of singles Saturday and a three-run homer Sunday. He finished the first leg of his rehab trip through the minors with a .250 average.
But numbers weren’t that important—Mondesi needs to demonstrate he’s capable of performing the physical requirements of the job of a major league shortstop before he concerns himself with statistics.
Just when will Adalberto Mondesi be ready to return to the KC Royals?
That’s the harder question. Per The Kansas City Star’s Vahe Gregorian, General Manager Dayton Moore thinks Mondesi may not return to the Royals before this Friday:
Assuming Moore is correct, and his shortstop does rejoin the Royals Friday, he’ll face Detroit, a team he likes to hit against, in a 7:10 p.m. game at Kauffman Stadium, a park he likes to hit in. Mondesi carries a career .308 average against the Tigers, whose pitchers have served up eight of his 32 major league home runs. And his career average at The K is .280, 29 points better than his .251 five-season big league clip.
For Mondesi, returning to The Show probably can’t come soon enough. He’ll want to prove his spectacular September numbers last season—he slashed .356/.408/.667 after starting the month at .186/.211/.240—were no fluke. He seemed well on the way to doing just that in spring training by posting a .303/.343/.606 Cactus League line before suffering the injury that forced him out of action.
And an excellent, injury-free remainder of the 2021 season could move Mondesi closer to a contract extension he and the club aren’t quite ready for.
More about Mondesi’s progress will be known starting Tuesday when he suits up for Omaha.
What KC Royals roster changes will occur when Mondesi arrives in Kansas City?
Obviously, the Royals must open roster space to accommodate Mondesi’s return. As of this writing, Kelvin Gutierrez is the logical choice to return to the minors. He’s with the club only because Hunter Dozier’s recent injury necessitated bringing up another infielder, and demoting Nicky Lopez again is unlikely considering his improving bat and ability to get on base, not to mention his high-caliber defense. Gutierrez is also the likely choice if Dozier returns before Mondesi; KC could demote a pitcher to make room for Mondesi because the club is carrying 14.
Look for the club to send Gutierrez to Omaha, install Mondesi back at shortstop, return Lopez to second base, and move Whit Merrifield to right field. Right is where the KC Royals intended to start Merrifield this season, but Mondesi’s injury forced changes.
Now, returning to the original plan may be just around the corner.
Adalberto Mondesi has been out all season. Hopefully, he’ll soon rejoin the Royals.