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Esky debuts in center field against Astros

MLB.com @FlannyMLB

HOUSTON -- Royals manager Ned Yost announced earlier this week that Alcides Escobar, who has started 407 straight games at shortstop, eventually would play some center field as the club tries to give Adalberto Mondesi some starts at short.

The switch took place on Friday night against the Astros as Escobar made his first career start in center field in a 1-0 win at Minute Maid Park. He handled his first chance, a routine fly to medium-deep center in the third inning, flawlessly, though he somewhat amusingly called for it like an infielder. Escobar went 2-for-2 with a pair of walks at the plate.

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HOUSTON -- Royals manager Ned Yost announced earlier this week that Alcides Escobar, who has started 407 straight games at shortstop, eventually would play some center field as the club tries to give Adalberto Mondesi some starts at short.

The switch took place on Friday night against the Astros as Escobar made his first career start in center field in a 1-0 win at Minute Maid Park. He handled his first chance, a routine fly to medium-deep center in the third inning, flawlessly, though he somewhat amusingly called for it like an infielder. Escobar went 2-for-2 with a pair of walks at the plate.

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Escobar has played in 1,179 games at shortstop for the Royals. He last played the outfield in 2010 with the Brewers, when he made five appearances total over the three outfield positions, with one start in right field.

Escobar was noticeably excited in the clubhouse prior to Friday's game.

"I'm feeling good," Escobar said, smiling. "I've played it before, maybe one or two times eight years ago in Milwaukee. Now, today is another day and I'm excited.

"I can't wait to go out there and have fun. I can play it. I'm happy to play it."

Yost and the Royals' front office have been discussing ways to move Escobar around the diamond in order to get Mondesi, presumably a big part of the club's future, more repetitions at shortstop.

"I think he [Escobar] can be fine," Yost said. "I ran it by all the coaches and they all agreed he would be fine. He's got to [try it] sometime so why not now?

"Good shortstops have range and generally strong arms. It's a lot easier for a shortstop to go to center field than from center field to shortstop."

Other than in 2010, Escobar said he has never played in the outfield on any level. Not while growing up in Venezuela. Not in instructional league. Not in winter ball. Not in the Minor Leagues."

"When I was growing up, I was at shortstop or pitcher all the time," Escobar said. "I played some second base in the Minors, but I didn't like it. Too short of a throw.

"It will be way different in center field. I'm not scared. I want to throw somebody out."

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals, Alcides Escobar