KANSAS CITY -- Kerry Robinson laughed himself right out of a ballgame.
It happened Monday at Omaha when some kids, who had just lined up with the Royals' starters on the field for the national anthem, departed by sliding into third base. Dirt caked their pants and the kids got tangled up with each other.
Out in center field, Robinson was extremely amused.
"It was a situation where I was laughing at the kids running and sliding into third base and I felt a sharp pain all through my chest," he said.
"I wasn't sure what it was. I was supposed to play catch with (Aaron) Guiel and he called the trainer out. Jeff Stevenson looked at me and I was fine. I played four or five innings pain-free, then I kind of felt a little soft twinge coming on. I wasn't sure if it was my heart so, just to be safe, I came out of the game and had a doctor look at it."
It was merely a spasm in the upper rib cage.
But, as the story emerged, Robinson was besieged by radio talk shows who wanted him to tell about his strange injury.
"It kind of took a life of its own," he said. "It wasn't an injury or anything."
The injury to Royals center fielder Shane Costa was real and Robinson was recalled to fill his job in Saturday night's game against the Oakland A's.
Costa, who strained his left hamstring while running out a double on Friday night, was placed on the 15-day disabled list.
"It's not a tear but it's bad enough where he's probably not going to be able to do anything for a couple of weeks," manager Buddy Bell said.
Already on the DL was the regular center fielder, David DeJesus. He also had a left hamstring injury and was several days away from returning.
So Robinson got the call after hitting .367 with 12 RBIs and seven stolen bases as the leadoff batter for Omaha. He was placed in the No. 1 spot against the A's, too.
"Costa (.317) was playing so well. It's unfortunate but Kerry's been in the big leagues before," Bell said. "So he's a tested guy and I liked him in Spring Training."
Robinson, 32, previously played with Tampa Bay, Cincinnati, St. Louis and San Diego with a .267 average and 35 steals in 47 tries. His best season was 2001 when he hit .285 in 114 games with the Cardinals.
To make room for Robinson on the 40-man roster, the Royals transferred pitcher Steve Stemle (right elbow strain) from the 15- to the 60-day disabled list.
Robinson, wearing No. 44, got off to a good start with a first-inning single and scored on Reggie Sanders' grand slam against Esteban Loaiza.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.