The Kansas City Royals made a flurry of roster moves Monday as they begin a September march toward the playoffs, activating first baseman Eric Hosmer from the disabled list and promoting first-round draft pick Brandon Finnegan from Double-A Northwest Arkansas.
Hosmer fractured a bone in his right hand when he was hit by a pitch from Jon Lester on July 20. He tried to play through the injury before Kansas City ultimately shut him down, hoping that an extended period of rest would allow him to return for the final stretch.
Hosmer began swinging a bat just last week. He was 3 for 10 during a rehab stint at Triple-A Omaha, driving in the winning run on Saturday and hitting a homer on Sunday.
"Feels good to be back with the guys," said Hosmer, who was playing first base and hitting fifth in Monday night's series opener against Texas. "It's September baseball. It's postseason baseball. The races are coming down to crunch time."
The Royals, who have not made the playoffs since winning the 1985 World Series, began the day a half-game up on Detroit in the crowded AL Central.
Hosmer's return from the disabled list should provide a boost for the Royals, who had lost three in a row heading into Monday night's game. Designated hitter Billy Butler had played well at first in Hosmer's absence, but he made a key error Sunday night that gave Cleveland a chance to take a 4-2 lead in the 10th inning of a game that was suspended by weather.
Hosmer is considered one of the best defensive first baseman in the game – though the hot bat he'd been swinging prior to his injury was enticing, too.
"We need offense," Royals manager Ned Yost said, "and after the game last night, our scouts that were in Omaha watching said he's ready."
Meanwhile, Finnegan may be the most high-profile of the Royals' call-ups. The left-hander was picked No. 17 overall in the June draft, and rocketed through the minor leagues. He dazzled in five starts for Class-A Wilmington and made eight relief appearances for Northwest Arkansas.
Finnegan had a 1.33 ERA with 26 strikeouts and four walks over 27 innings.
"I mean, this is crazy, but it's a great experience to be able to make," said Finnegan, whose locker is between those of veteran pitchers James Shields and Jason Vargas.
"After I got drafted, I was just excited to begin my pro career," he said. "I wasn't expecting to be iup here in two months or however long it's been."
In other moves, the Royals purchased the contract of outfielder Carlos Peguero from Omaha and recalled left-hander Casey Coleman, infielder Johnny Giavotella, outfielder Lane Adams and catcher Francisco Pena from minor league affiliates to provide some much-needed depth.
Peguero, who hit 30 homers in the minors this season, started in right field Monday night.
Asked whether it surprised him to be thrown right into the lineup, he replied: "Not really. Every time you come here, onto a new baseball team, kyou have to set out in your mind to be ready to help the team. And we're in a good position right now."
Left-hander Chris Dwyer and right-hander Blake Wood were designated for assignment to make roster space for the moves, and more roster help is expected to arrive soon.
Northwest Arkansas finished its season Monday afternoon, so infielder Christian Colon, outfielder Terrance Gore and pitchers Liam Hendriks and Aaron Crow will likely arrive in Kansas City by Tuesday. Gore was added to the club's 40-man roster Sunday.
"They all kind of fit a role," Yost said. "Let's go with it."