Adalberto Mondesi has been adored in Kansas City ever since making an unlikely major league debut for the KC Royals in the 2015 World Series. And his torrid September last year, when he hit .356, had a .408 OBP, and slugged .667, further endeared him to the fanbase.
His fans have little to cheer about this season, though. Injuries are responsible for Mondesi playing only 10 times prior to Wednesday night’s contest against Cleveland. His prolonged absences certainly haven’t helped the Royals; nor have they been good for his standing with some fans, many of whom publicly express their disappointment in him on a daily basis.
Just check out their social media venting, where palpable anger and frustration run deep.
Some accuse Mondesi of being soft, unable or unwilling to play through pain. Some believe he’s simply too injury-prone for the big leagues. Others clamor for the Royals to trade or otherwise cast him aside.
Through it all, Mondesi went about his injury rehabilitation, something he surely deplores by this time. And after all the work, he demonstrated Wednesday night just why the KC Royals show no signs of cutting him loose.
He singled in his first major league at-bat since June 20, then stole a base before the scoreless second inning ended.
Then, in his next at-bat, Mondesi hammered Cleveland starter Logan Allen’s second pitch out to deep left, a 400-plus-foot fourth-inning homer that extended a Kansas City lead to 3-0.
Unfortunately, that lead didn’t hold and the Royals lost 5-3 in 11 innings, an unfortunate result considering the excellent job KC starter Jackson Kowar did, pitching six scoreless inning and striking out six in his return from the minors. But for Mondesi, who finished the night 2-for-5 with that big homer, an RBI, and two runs scored, the game had to be personally satisfying.
There appeared to be no lingering signs of his season-robbing injuries. He looked as strong, energetic, and fast as ever. And although he struck out three times, he seemed at ease and comfortable with playing again.
Wednesday was good for him, but just one game for the KC Royals’ Mondesi.
Because the Royals cloaked him with the semi-protection of serving as designated hitter, Mondesi didn’t get any chances in the field Wednesday night. But seeing him at the plate and on the base paths provided sufficient reminder of why the club so covets him and his five-tool skill set.
How much more and how often he’ll play down the stretch (the Royals have 30 games left) remains to be seen. He’ll definitely DH more and the team plans to give him time at third base. But expect Manager Mike Matheny to also give Mondesi plenty of time off.
Kansas City’s plans for Mondesi’s offseason will be carefully considered and designed. Winter ball isn’t out of the question, although the Royals could discourage it to allow the greatest recovery possible for their star, something essential for Mondesi if he’s to have the healthy season next year that he needed in 2020.
For the moment, though, one thing is certain. Mondesi looked good Wednesday night.
The Royals conclude their three-game series with Cleveland tonight at Kauffman Stadium. Mike Minor (8-11, 5.30) starts against the Indians’ Triston McKenzie (3-5, 4.83) in the 7:10 p.m. CDT contest.