KANSAS CITY -- Adalberto Mondesi’s two-run moonshot in the Royals’ 7-3 win over the Pirates on Monday night was the latest highlight in a reel of them that shows what a force the dynamic shortstop can be when he’s on the field and in the lineup.
His injury exit Monday night showed how crushing it is when he’s not.
Mondesi was removed in the bottom of the eighth inning with a tweak in his left hamstring, manager Mike Matheny said after the Royals’ victory in the series opener at Kauffman Stadium. Mondesi was working with the Royals trainers postgame, so there wasn’t a further update on the injury.
The removal was precautionary and hopes are that it is nothing serious. But Mondesi has the injury history that makes any tweak or bruise concerning on some level. He has only been back from the injured list for a week after missing the first month and a half of the season because of a right oblique strain.
“Hated to see him come out of the game right there,” Matheny said. “Had a tweak in his hamstring. We’re still getting our eyes on what that exactly is, but it’s unfortunate. We’ll hear what the trainers have to say.”
Matheny said he thinks the injury occurred on Mondesi’s defensive gem in the top of the eighth inning, when Kevin Newman hit a chopper on the infield grass. Mondesi charged in and made the perfect throw -- another highlight that shows how valuable of a player he is for the Royals. Nicky Lopez pinch-hit for Mondesi in the bottom of the frame.
“I’m guessing it was him coming in there,” Matheny said. “That was a really good play. There aren’t many shortstops in the league that make that play. And it did take a full burst to make it happen. So I’m guessing that’s where it happened, but I’m not sure.”
Mondesi has been back in the Royals’ lineup for seven games after the beginning of his season was delayed because of the oblique injury. And in those seven games, he has looked as though he hasn’t missed a beat. He’s 9-for-25 with three doubles, two home runs and a walk since he made his debut last Tuesday. His homer on Monday was crushed, traveling 417 feet and registering at 109.8 mph off the bat. Mondesi marked it with a bat flip as he sauntered down the first-base line.
“That ball was hammered,” Matheny said. “Great swing, wasn’t trying to do too much, and he’s really been in a good place with his swing.”
The homer gave the Royals two insurance runs after starter Mike Minor allowed two runs in six strong innings. Despite registering only eight whiffs against the Pirates, Minor had seven strikeouts, raising his total this season to 68 in 60 innings pitched (11 starts).
It was a continuation of what the Royals’ offense has seen the past four games: Kansas City is batting .312 with 26 runs (6.5 runs per game), including a .417 (15-for-36) average in scoring situations, since Friday, a stretch in which they’ve won three of four.
The Royals ended May at .500 (26-26) and have won 10 of their past 16 -- on the heels of an 11-game losing streak.
That turnaround isn’t all because of Mondesi. The Royals are seeing contributions up and down their lineup lately. All nine starting position players Monday recorded at least one hit for the first time since Aug. 6, 2020, against the Cubs.
But there is no doubt the Royals' offense is better with Mondesi in it.
“He can just do so much,” said Hunter Dozier, who had an RBI double in the second inning. “If he’s not swinging the bat, he’s going to find a way to get on base. Bunt his way on and then steal two bags. Or he’s going to play amazing defense. He can do it all.
“And when he’s swinging the bat like he is now, it’s just a spark, for sure. Ever since he’s gotten back, we can feel it. He’s playing really good all the way, and we hope he’s all right.”