Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar grimaced in pain after taking a 90-mph fastball to the left wrist from Jordan Zimmermann that knocked him out of from Monday’s game against the Detroit Tigers.
Escobar, who has started all 91 games this season at shortstop, was back in the Royals lineup Tuesday. He’s made a club-record 262 consecutive starts at the position.
Manager Ned Yost said the ball hit one of Escobar’s nerves, luckily avoiding any structural damage. Escobar initially thought his hand was broken, but was able to move it freely a couple of minutes later.
“By the time he got up to the top of the stairs to go get an X-ray, he told (head trainer) Nick Kenny, ‘Oh, I’m feeling good now,’ ” Yost said. “We were laughing because I walked by and (Jason) Vargas said he’s a shark, he doesn’t have any bones, it’s just all cartilage. You can’t hurt him.”
Escobar added, “When I look at that replay last night, I said, ‘wow.’ I was a lucky man.”
Escobar’s presence in the lineup has been important this season because he consistently provides competitiveness to a streaky team in the middle of a tight AL Central race. Entering Tuesday’s game, the Royals were three games behind first-place Cleveland.
“I like to play,” Escobar said. “Ned and everybody in the room knows I like to play hard and play everyday.”
After starting the season cold and being bumped from the leadoff spot over a month ago, Escobar has worked with hitting coach Dale Sveum and significantly improved his awareness at the plate. Since June 10, Escobar is batting .347 (41 for 118) in 31 games, raising his season average 55 points from .178 to .233. He is fourth on the team in hits (81) and has 29 RBIs.
“I swing right now at more strikes than balls. When I swing at strikes, everything is going better,” Escobar said.” In the first two months, I know I was struggling. Right now, I’m being a little bit more patient at home plate and I’m feeling good.”
“Just swing at pitches in the strike zone, that’s the key.”