CHICAGO — Tony Abreu got a quick introduction to his new role as the Royals utility infielder Monday when he replaced a still-ailing Mike Moustakas as the starting third baseman for the series opener against the Chicago White Sox.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
Abreu, 27, didnt play third base at all this season in 103 games at Class AAA Omaha.
Moustakas continues to nurse a bone bruise to his right knee suffered July 28 on a diving play against the Angels in Anaheim, Calif.
Im fine, Moustakas said. Well, Im good enough to play. Were just taking a precaution. They want to make sure I dont do something where Im out for two or three weeks.
Manager Ned Yost said Moustakas likely would have played Monday if the White Sox werent starting left-hander Chris Sale.
It just makes it a good time to give him a day off, Yost said. This is something that probably isnt going away anytime soon. Maybe not until the season is over. Its a bone bruise. It gets a little better, then he plays on it and it starts hurting again.
Abreu joined the club Monday as the replacement for veteran Yuniesky Betancourt, who was designated for assignment following Sundays 7-6 victory over Texas in 10 innings at Kauffman Stadium.
Hes been playing well down there, Yost said, and we want to get to look at him.
More than well.
Abreu was selected earlier of the day as the player of the week in the Pacific Coast League after going 11 for 24 in six games with two homers and 12 RBIs. Overall, he batted .322 at Omaha with 50 extra-base hits and 73 RBIs.
But third base?
Abreu has played only one game there over the last two seasons. He spent most of his time this season as the Storm Chasers shortstop although he has logged 49 previous big-league games at third, including 38 starts.
Mondays produced no problems. Abreu started two double plays and handled eight chances with no problems. Plans call for him to get a look tonight at shortstop and on Wednesday at second base.
The Royals signed Abreu, a switch-hitter, as a minor-league free agent on Dec. 1, 2011 after he spent last season in the Arizona organization following seven years in the Dodgers system.
Rated as the Dodgers top prospect before the 2007 season, Abreu reached the majors that season by batting .355 in 54 games at Class AAA Las Vegas. He then batted .271 in 59 games for Los Angeles.
But Abreu struggled to regain his form after missing much of the 2008-09 seasons because of hernia and hip injuries that required surgery.
Even so, Abreu loomed as a likely candidate this year to win a big-league roster spot, because of his versatility, until the Royals signed Betancourt. Abreu has a .251 career average in 146 big-league games over parts of three seasons.
Gordon garden gnome
Left fielder Alex Gordons road to winning a Gold Glove last season for defensive excellence started with a 68-game repositioning tour he was once a third baseman, remember in 2010 at Class AAA Omaha.
The Storm Chasers marked their contribution to that success Monday night by giving away Alex Gordon Gold Glove Garden Gnomes to the first 1,500 fans through the gates at Werner Field for their game against Colorado Springs.
Gordon is attired in an Omaha uniform, of course, and lets just say the gnome appears to have a bit more body fat than the real-life version.
Abreu wasnt the only player honored for his performance last week in the minors.
Short-season Burlington teammates Bubba Starling and Yender Caramo are the player- and pitcher-of-the-week in the Appalachian League. Class AA Northwest Arkansas righty Ethan Hollingworth is the pitcher of the week in the Texas League.
Starling, a 20-year-old outfielder, went eight for 25 with three homers and five RBIs in six games. Caramo, 20, allowed one run and three hits over seven innings in his only start. He also struck out six and walked none.
Hollingsworth, 25, worked 8 1/3 scoreless innings over two relief appearances. He allowed four hits while striking out four and walking two.
It was 14 years ago Tuesday Aug 7, 1998 that José Offerman extended his hitting streak to 27 games by getting hits (four in all) in a pair of losses (8-2 and 14-2) to the Yankees in a double-header in New York.
It was (and remains) the second-longest streak in Royals history, topped only by George Bretts 30-game run in 1980.
Offermans streak ended the following day, Aug. 8, when he went zero for three with a walk in a 14-1 loss to New York at Yankee Stadium. (Sounds like a rough series in the South Bronx.)