Raul Mondesi was selected to represent Omaha in the Triple-A All-Star Game this year.
Kansas City’s former top prospect wasn’t able to go to Tacoma for the midseason classic, however, after injuring his back while trying to avoid being hit by a pitch in Des Moines the day before he was to leave.
Mondesi hadn’t played since. The shortstop returned to the lineup Thursday as the Storm Chasers opened a four-game PCL series with Sacramento at Werner Park with a 7-1 win before a crowd of 5,955.
“It’s really good to be back playing with my teammates,” he said. “I feel good now, and healthy. I’ll just keep going, keep doing my things. I’ve been enjoying my teammates playing, but I want to play, too.”
Mondesi went 0 for 3 in his return, playing only five innings as he works his way back. Omaha manager Brian Poldberg said he’ll do that for about three games, then be stretched to seven frames per night.
“It’s good to have him back,” he said. “We know it’s going to be a little slow, offensively, not getting to work into it easily. He hasn’t seen live pitching since the All-Star break. We’ll just get him out there.”
Mondesi said he waited about 10 days, after the injury, before resuming baseball activities. Since doing so, he’s been working every day to get better. The Chasers didn’t ever put him on the disabled list.
“They wanted me to take it easy, keep it short,” he said. “Now, I feel good. I’ll just keep doing my exercises and everything, stay healthy and finish strong. … I’m here now. I’ll just play hard.”
Omaha didn’t need Mondesi’s bat Thursday as they knocked around River Cats starter Matt Gage (0-6) in the first five innings. Cheslor Cuthbert clubbed a two-run, opposite-field homer in the first. It was one of six extra-base hits the Chasers had off Gage. Logan Moon had two of them — a double and a triple.
Moon fell a homer shy of a cycle, striking out in his final at-bat in the seventh. Frank Schwindel also went down on strikes in that inning, finishing an 0-for-4 night that snapped his hitting streak at 18 games.
Brian Flynn limited Sacramento to one hit while pitching into the fifth in his first start of the season. The 6-foot-7 left-hander struck out seven and didn’t walk a batter in his longest outing of the year to date.
Flynn initially joined the Chasers on a major-league rehabilitation assignment in late May after opening the season on the 60-day disabled list. He’s gone 4-2 for Omaha in 18 appearances out of the bullpen.
Poldberg said the lefty is expected to remain in the starting rotation for the foreseeable future.
“Before we got him, he was a starter in New Orleans. He pitched against us, and he did a great job,” he said. “I’m glad to see him get a chance back in that role. It gives him a chance to use his change-up. Out of the bullpen, a lot of times, you don’t get to use that third pitch. That’s a big pitch in his repertoire.”