Albert Almora endured the hardest part of his season. Now all he has to do is play baseball.
The Cubs' No. 2 prospect went 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI in his season debut Wednesday night as Class A Kane County fell to Peoria, 9-2.
Sidelined since mid-March with a broken bone in his left hand, Almora singled in his first at-bat in the opening inning, then drove in No. 17 prospect Gioskar Amaya with a double in the third. After hitting into an inning-ending double play in the fifth, he singled again in the seventh.
"I just went in there like any other game," said Almora, who collected at least three hits for the fifth time in his brief Minor League career. "It's the same game, just a different atmosphere. I saw some pitches I liked. I saw good pitches and they happened to find the hole. Everything went good."
Almora broke the hamate bone in his hand on March 14, sending him to the disabled list for two months.
"It was super-frustrating. It was actually the first game of Spring Training," Almora said. "For it to happen like that and to have to miss the beginning of the season, it was tough for me.
"To be honest, I worked my butt off. I worked all morning and whatever I could do baseball-wise, I did it. I just didn't stop. They told me not to rush it, and that was the best advice that anyone's ever given me. But you still, as a baseball player, you want to get out there as soon as possible to help your team hard. It was super-hard to control my emotions."
Selected sixth overall in the 2012 Draft, the Florida native played 18 games last summer in the Rookie-level Arizona League and 15 in the short-season Northwest League. After batting .321 with two homers, 19 RBIs and five stolen bases across the two levels, the plan was for Almora to open this season with the Cougars. It just took a little longer than expected.
"I was super-excited," he said. "Once I got the news that I was going to Kane County, I was anxious. [Manager] Mark [Johnson] even told me to take it easy, [said], 'You look like you're excited.'"
Now that he has game action under his belt, Almora has a simple goal.
"Just stay healthy," he said.
Cubs No. 11 prospect Dan Vogelbach drove in the Cougars' other run with a double, but Peoria's Michael Swinson had three RBIs and teammate Jacob Wilson was 2-for-5 with two runs scored.