SURPRISE, Ariz. — Eric Hosmer’s struggles in the World Baseball Classic, where he is four for 18 through four games, is drawing some concern among Royals fans.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
kcbearcat06 tweets: “It’s early but is it time to b concerned w/ hos..in wbc looks same as last yr with hacking at pitches out & getting tied up in”
Many others are offering similar comments.
It doesn’t seem to bother the Royals.
Manager Ned Yost keeps saying WBC performances are no factor in assessing the roster. He also offers this rhetorical question:
“What are we going to do?” he asked. “Send him down if he goes one for 11? We just want them there for the experience. Not to evaluate. They’re all there for the experience.”
Sure, the Royals would prefer that their guys excel in the WBC, but Yost and other club officials dismissed WBC performances as an evaluation tool even before the tournament started.
You might disagree with that view, but it’s been consistent throughout.
Some other things to remember: It’s a small sample size. If Hosmer goes three for three in his next game, his average goes from .222 to .333.
But I think there’s also a preparation factor. Hosmer was a late addition to the USA roster. That means his spring program wasn’t geared toward WBC-level competition.
Spring training has a rhythm. Pitchers throw a lot of fastballs and change-ups early in camp. Hitters hone their timing against those pitches, which have little to no movement.
The percentage of curves and sliders escalates as the regular season approaches. Hitters adjust. Hosmer went cold turkey into the curve/slider mode when he went to the WBC.
Now...Hosmer could still struggle this season. A bounce-back year is no guarantee, although rival scouts (not just the Royals) say he has too much raw talent not to do so.
This is just a cautionary note not to overreact to spring numbers in the Cactus League or the WBC. A lot of guys posting great numbers right now are doing little more than proving they can hit a fastball.
The Royals, 13-2-1, look to bounce back from a rare loss when they play Seattle at 3:05 p.m. Central time at Surprise Stadium. The Mariners, at 11-6, are tied with Cleveland for second place in the Cactus League.
Third baseman Mike Moustakas returns to the lineup after missing Tuesday’s 6-3 loss to Oakland because of a bruised foot. Shortstop Alcides Escobar is getting another day to recover from tightness in his lower back.
Here’s the lineup: LF Alex Gordon, SS Elliot Johnson, 1B Billy Butler, 3B Mike Moustakas, C Salvy Perez, DH Jeff Francoeur, CF Lorenzo Cain, RF Endy Chavez, 2B Chris Getz and P Ervin Santana.
Also slotted to pitch: Aaron Crow, Nate Adcock, Dan Wheeler, Everett Teaford and Donnie Joseph.
Keep those questions coming on twitter to @Royals_Report. Here is today’s exchange:
@gregoravey: who has been the best player of the spring so far?
My view? Alex Gordon and David Lough have been the best position players. Will Smith has been the most impressive pitcher.
@KCRoyalsfan09: Shields gave up 4 runs...is he hurt? I didn’t have the chance to listen to the game.
Concerns like this, I suppose, are natural when a franchise goes two decades without being competitive.
James Shields got tired and left some pitches up in Tuesday’s 6-3 loss to Oakland. He retired nine straight over the first three innings with four strikeouts — and looked brilliant in doing so.
Then he got tired, and got hit. Really see no reason for concern.
@AdamBurnsKC: Is it a sure thing that Irving Falu starts the season in Omaha?
I don’t know about a “sure thing,” but that’s sure how it looks to me.
@MadDogKiller: do they have a spot for max Ramirez?
Barring injuries, I don’t see a spot for Max Ramirez on the big-league roster.
@BradWish: Gamecast said he didn’t throw a ball (31 strikes), is that accurate? Can’t be, right?
Of course it’s not right. First, James Shields threw 59 pitches. I’ve found the online tracking data for Cactus League games is really suspect everywhere except Surprise and Peoria.
@KCRoyalman: I can’t blame the KC Star for putting up the pay wall because I will pay to read @mellinger and @Royals_Report if it’s not too expensive.
I’d pay to read Sam. So should everyone else.
@pfunk270: any chance you could find scouts opinion on colon vs. Getz/gio long term?
The general view is Christian Colon should be poised a year from now to make a real push for the starting job at second base.
@AndyWesthusing: How much longer does Chris Dwyer have on the 40 man roster if he doesn’t start pitching up to his capabilities?
This is a pivotal year for Chris Dwyer. No doubt about that.
To reach Bob Dutton, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow his updates at twitter.com/Royals_Report.