SURPRISE, Ariz. — The guy who looms as the lynchpin to the Royals lineup, first baseman Eric Hosmer, is convinced hell reap long-term benefits from his recent struggles in the World Baseball Classic.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
I saw a lot more breaking pitches in the Classic, he said. Thats a big help. I think its an adjustment as a hitter to get your eye trained to those pitches. You also get a feel for how certain teams will attack you.
Going to the Classic was a big help, and it definitely helped my approach. Now, I have another two weeks to work on stuff to work on for the season. It was a tremendous help for me.
Hosmer had only five hits in 25 at-bats for the USA, which failed to make it out of second-round pool play. He looked overmatched at times, particularly on off-speed pitches.
That fueled worries not merely throughout the clubs fan base but also, albeit to a lesser degree, among club officials. A bounce-back year by Hosmer is one of the biggest keys to the Royals season.
There was some concern that he was getting out of whack, manager Ned Yost admitted. But I saw him in BP (after returning Sunday), and I saw him in the game he looked great to me.
Hosmer went two for four in Sundays 10-0 romp over the White Sox, which sent him into Monday nights game against Texas with a .407 average at 11 for 27.
Youre playing at a high level very soon (in the WBC), he said. It definitely does you a lot of good. You can translate spring training at-bats (to the regular season), but to be in a big atmosphere like that, where its a turned-up level, its a good look.
It was an unbelievable experience. You learn a lot. I look to my left, and Jimmy Rollins is right there. Then you see guys like Ryan Braun and David Wright. It was a great learning experience for me.
I asked Jimmy how he calms everything down. He said hes been playing this game long enough that any outcome that happens, hes been through it. Nothing new can happen. So just take each at-bat and treat it the same way.
Hosmer also believes his WBC struggles were exaggerated, particularly his ground out to second against J.C. Romero with two outs and the bases loaded in the eighth inning.
The USA trailed Puerto Rico by one run at the time in an elimination game and the American were eliminated when they failed to score in the ninth.
Puerto Rico, meanwhile, will player either the Dominican Republic or The Netherlands on Wednesday for the title in San Francisco.
Its baseball, Hosmer said. A few nights before, I got a hit off the same guy. That was the thing with the WBC. I think I did hit a couple of balls well.
With a handful of at-bats, its a matter of one or two hits your average can be anywhere. For me, there were a couple of at-bats that Id want to take back. With runners in scoring position, maybe I got a little too anxious.
But at the same time, the WBC was the biggest help I could have got for the season, to be in that type of situation this early.