KANSAS CITY -- Third baseman Josh Fields was back in a Major League clubhouse, a September callup by the Royals. This came four years after his first callup, in 2006 by the Chicago White Sox.
"This is just almost as exciting as my first one," Fields said. "Not expecting to be back and being here."
Obtained from the White Sox last Nov. 5 with second baseman Chris Getz in exchange for third baseman Mark Teahen, Fields went to Spring Training hoping to win a job. Instead he limped away on his right hip.
"It was bothering me since the second day. At the beginning, [manager] Trey [Hillman] ended up saying I had some low back stiffness just to kind of push things over for a while, but it was my hip all along. It just never ended up getting better," Fields said.
Fields tried to rehabilitate his hip in extended spring training at Surprise, Ariz., but had to undergo surgery in late April.
He was expected to miss the entire season.
"They had to shave some bone off once they got in there, to kind of smooth it over because some of my bone was kind of calcifying and hardening and that's what actually tore the labrum," he said. "So they patched the labrum up and shaved some bone off so that's why they thought I wasn't going to be able to play this year."
Around July 4, though, his recovery was so swift that there was optimism he might play this season after all. Eventually he wound up with Double-A Northwest Arkansas where he hit .436 (17-for-39) in 11 games.
"I feel 10 times better than I did in Spring Training," Fields said. "They did warn me that my running wouldn't be back to where I was until possibly next year."
The other aspects of his game, though, are just fine.
"Hitting is where I see the biggest difference. I can actually get to some pitches now as opposed to feeling I was missing everything," he said. "So I'm excited."
Maybe as excited as in 2006, when in his first Major League at-bat, he blasted a home run off the Tigers' Jamie Walker.