Mondesi (left hamstring strain) lands on IL

Staumont back in KC bullpen; Olivares recalled, Zuber optioned to Triple-A

June 6th, 2021

KANSAS CITY -- The move the Royals hoped to avoid when shortstop felt his left hamstring pull on a defensive play earlier this week eventually came on Sunday, when the club placed Mondesi on the 10-day injured list.

The move is retroactive to Friday, meaning Mondesi is eligible to return on June 14. There’s no timeline yet for that return, though, as Mondesi will continue to rest before ramping back up baseball activities.

“It’s progressing, but not to the point where we’re comfortable putting him on the field at the Major League level and the speed of the Major Leagues,” manager Mike Matheny said. “He’s getting closer, but every day we wait, we’re short on our bench, and if you’re pushing him when his body isn’t ready to be pushed.”

The Royals made a few roster moves ahead of Sunday's series finale against the Twins: Outfielder Edward Olivares was recalled from Triple-A Omaha three days after he was optioned there (Mondesi’s injury allows for the early recall). Olivares started in right field in the series finale. Reliever Josh Staumont (left knee sprain) was reinstated from the 10-day IL and Tyler Zuber was optioned to Omaha.

Mondesi hasn’t played since Monday against the Pirates. In the eighth inning, he made a elite defensive play on a soft chopper up the grass, and as he burst toward the ball to field it and make the throw, he felt a tweak in his hamstring. The Royals pulled him from the game as a precautionary move. They were encouraged on Tuesday when Mondesi woke up feeling better and thought he could return after a few days of rest.

But with each day he took batting practice, did infield drills and lightly ran the bases, he wasn’t progressing as quickly as anyone had hoped. The Royals didn’t want to push Mondesi, with the injury history he has, to return before he was ready.

“This is going to give him a little more time to where when we take him out there and work him out, this guy’s ready to go,” Matheny said. “We haven’t seen that.”

Mondesi has only played seven games this season after missing a month and a half with a left oblique strain he suffered in his last at-bat of Spring Training. When he’s healthy, Mondesi is a dynamic talent both offensively and defensively, but the 25-year-old has had a brutal injury history over his five seasons in the Majors, including a right shoulder impingement, a groin strain and left shoulder subluxation that required surgery. The most games he’s played in a season was 102 in 2019.

Staumont returns

Staumont’s return gives a major boost to the Royals bullpen as one of the highest-leverage relievers gives Matheny options in the back end beyond Greg Holland, Jake Brentz, Kyle Zimmer and Scott Barlow, who has taken on a big workload this season. Staumont saw a dip in his velocity over the first two months of the season, hitting 93-95 mph instead of his usual 98-100 mph on his fastball.

But Staumont still posted a 2.78 ERA with 25 strikeouts across 22 2/3 innings before going on the IL with a left knee sprain. It’s not clear if the sprain was related to the dip in velocity Staumont was dealing with, but he could have been overcompensating when he felt something off in his knee.

After some rest, Staumont began throwing again and looked like the pitcher the Royals know and trust, Matheny said. He threw a live bullpen session earlier this week and recovered well.

“He never wanted to leave, none of them ever do,” Matheny said. “But watching him throw his live the other day, it was right back to Josh. The high velocity, the high spin on the breaking ball, he was locating well. He wasn’t favoring anything. It was good to see him and good to have him back.”