Burns (thumb) was activated from the 7-day disabled list Sunday, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports. Burns landed on the disabled list Tuesday after spraining his thumb during a game with Triple-A Omaha. He was able to recover quickly and will rejoin the fold in Omaha on Sunday. The speedy outfielder is currently sporting an 89 wRC+ with nine stolen bags through his first 29 minor-league contests.
Burns was placed on the DL at Triple-A Omaha on Tuesday after suffering a thumb sprain, Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports. The 27-year-old outfielder was traded from Oakland to Kansas City last season. Over 24 games after the deal, he hit just .243/.275/.243 dressed in blue, forcing Burns into a job competition this spring. He failed to make the Opening Day roster, but with 235 games of MLB service under his belt, it was widely assumed he'd jump up from Triple-A at some point during the current campaign. Burns was slashing .271/.366/.308 before spraining his thumb.
Burns was optioned to Triple-A Omaha on Monday, Joel Goldberg of FOX Sports Kansas City reports. It was revealed earlier in the day that Jorge Soler (oblique) could be forced to open the season on the DL, but Terrance Gore rather than Burns would be first in line to win an Opening Day roster spot in the outfield if that materializes. After a down 2016 campaign that resulted in the Athletics trading him away to the Royals at midseason, Burns will have to reestablish value in the minors if he hopes to earn another look with the big club.
Burns is competing for a roster spot with the Royals this spring, but he may end up beginning the season at Triple-A since he still has minor league options remaining. Paulo Orlando is expected to serve as the primary backup at all three outfield spots, while new DH Brandon Moss can cover an outfield spot if needed, and Whit Merrifield may be an option to play the outfield if he sticks as a utility option. Burns' speed could make him a useful piece in AL-only leagues if he finds semi-regular playing time in 2017, but that may take multiple injuries to the players ahead of him on the depth chart in order to materialize.
Burns had his best game as a Royal on Monday, going 3-for-4 with a steal and two runs in an 8-3 win over the White Sox. Cast out of Oakland after a disappointing encore to his impressive 2015 debut, Burns has assumed the role of a part-time player in Kansas City. The 27-year-old outfielder still has some longer-term fantasy appeal thanks to his speed, but he'll need to find a starting job in the offseason for that to come into play. If he wants a big role with the Royals or anyone else next year, he'll need to do more hitting in the season's remaining games; for what it's worth, he's recently started awakening from a season-long slumber at the plate, as Burns has six hits in his last 12 at-bats.
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