The Royals announced Wednesday that shortstop Adalberto Mondesi has been placed on the 10-day injured list due to a right oblique strain. The move is retroactive to March 30. Fellow infielder Nicky Lopez is up from the team’s alternate site to take Mondesi’s spot on the Opening Day roster.
It’s something of an out-of-the-blue placement, as Mondesi played as recently as Monday and hasn’t been known to be battling any soreness in his oblique. The 25-year-old speedster turned in a .303/.343/.606 slash with two homers, a triple, two doubles and two stolen bases through 36 plate appearances this spring. He was limited early in camp after being hit by a pitch on his foot but had put that minor injury behind him.
It’s a sour note on which to start the season for Mondesi, who played in 59 of the Royals’ 60 games last season while slashing a combined .256/.294/.416 with a league-leading 24 steals. He’s battled shoulder and groin injuries in seasons prior, however, and will now be out at least a week early in the season — perhaps a good bit more. The Royals have yet to announce a timeline on Mondesi or the grade of the strain, but it’s common for oblique strains to sideline players for upwards of a month. The Royals will surely have more information on his status later today when skipper Mike Matheny meets with reporters.
With Mondesi sidelined for the time being, it’ll likely fall to the light-hitting Lopez to handle everyday work at shortstop. The 26-year-old is known as a strong defender but has managed just a .228/.279/.307 slash in 594 big league plate appearances.
For much of the offseason, Lopez was expected to be the Royals’ primary second baseman in 2021 — or at least to have a strong chance at winning the job in camp. However, his .118/.231/.147 batting line through 39 Cactus League appearances left him as an odd man out at the end of camp. Kansas City optioned him on Monday, deciding instead to move Whit Merrifield back to the infield to cover second base and leaving outfielders Michael A. Taylor, Kyle Isbel, Ryan McBroom and Jarrod Dyson in the mix for playing time in center and right alongside left fielder Andrew Benintendi .