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Mondesi 'feels great,' on track for Opening Day

@FlannyMLB
February 19, 2020

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Royals’ coaching and medical staffs have one goal for shortstop Adalberto Mondesi in 2020 -- get him through a season healthy. New manager Mike Matheny has seen the skill set, and he calls Mondesi one of the most talented players in the game. But Mondesi’s potentially

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Royals’ coaching and medical staffs have one goal for shortstop Adalberto Mondesi in 2020 -- get him through a season healthy.

New manager Mike Matheny has seen the skill set, and he calls Mondesi one of the most talented players in the game.

But Mondesi’s potentially breakthrough season in 2019 was derailed by injuries. He sustained a separated left shoulder while diving for a foul popup in mid-July. He returned in September, but Mondesi separated the shoulder again diving for a ball in the hole on Sept. 22, ending his season.

Shoulder surgery came soon after, followed by months of rehab.

Mondesi, 24, now is able to perform virtually all baseball duties. This week, the switch-hitter even began taking swings from the right side. He is on schedule to be ready for Opening Day.

“I feel great,” Mondesi said. “I feel normal.

“I’m hitting from both sides now. But it will be two more weeks before they will let me dive.”

And that’s where the coaching and training staffs enter the picture, trying to figure out how to allow Mondesi to play his complete game without perhaps taking unnecessary risks diving.

“A lot of it is just him reading his body,” Matheny said. “We’re monitoring that all the time, too, as in what kind of signs and signals are we getting? Especially about the diving. We just want to give him some wisdom about that. How can we not take away his aggressive style, but be smart about it?

“And he’s asked that, too, about how he can still go into the hole at short and make a play. He’s got so much range anyhow, maybe you don’t have to dive for a wild play. It’s different if maybe you’re trying to save a run and you want to dive and knock a ball down. But how can we guard that shoulder and play smarter? That’s what we’re trying to figure out.”

On the positive side, Mondesi almost always slides feet first when stealing bases. Diving back to the bag at first poses an issue, of course.

Mondesi doesn’t want his game to change too much, though.

“I’m still playing my game,” he said. “I don’t think it will take anything away from my game this year.

“[Injuries] happen. I just need to turn the page and focus on this year.”

The Royals will be cautious about using Mondesi too much here in camp.

“There’s no maybe about it,” Matheny said. “The key is getting him to a full season. We have yet to see that from him. This guy is special.

“He and I have had that conversation. Just watching the league, there’s not many guys who can do what he can do. He has as much of a ceiling as any guy in that room. We’ve seen plenty to see that it’s true defensively, and we’ve seen that offensively as well.

“So we’ll talk about monitoring the volume of work he does. It’s a process. He’s still learning his body. He’s young. But that’s all he wants to do, too, put a full season in. He’s a student of the game. I told him, ‘I don’t care who you line up with in the game, I’ll take you.’ So let’s get through this together.”

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