ROYALS NOTEBOOK

Eric Hosmer has been one of the AL’s hottest hitters for over a month

Updated: 2013-08-10T03:36:58Z

By TOD PALMER

The Kansas City Star

Since June 19, only two American League players, the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre and the Tigers’ Victor Martinez, had more hits than Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer.

Entering Friday, Hosmer had 60 hits in his last 43 games, including 10 doubles and 10 home runs. He’s raised his average 28 points during that span.

“My swing feels good,” Hosmer said. “I’m in a good spot. I’ve developed a good routine and been consistent with it.”

Before last season, Hosmer had been unaccustomed to struggles at any level of baseball, but he believes he’s finally turned a corner in his big-league career.

“It’s been tough, but that’s part of how you learn and how you develop into a player,” Hosmer said. “Experience helps, and that’s the stuff you go through sometimes to gain experience. It’s a learning process.”

The game remains a grind, but Hosmer’s recent success combined with the Royals’ post-All-Star Break surge has helped make sure the game is fun again.

“It’s a grind either way, but we’re having fun,” Hosmer said. “We’re in a race, and the games right now mean something. Everyone’s just trying to go out and win ballgames.”

Unlucky Johnson examines struggles

At the other end of the spectrum, utility man Elliot Johnson, who started Friday at second base, can’t seem to catch a break.

Johnson, who was acquired from the Rays in the James Shields trade, is only two for 45 since bludgeoning his former team during a four-game series in Tampa in mid-June.

Johnson, who went seven for 16 in that series, entered Friday mired in a zero-for-21 slump. During that span, Johnson’s batting average on balls in play is an unsightly .063.

“That’s fairly telling isn’t it,” Johnson said. “I usually strike out a lot, but those have actually been down. For it to be that low is fairly indicative of what’s been happening. There’s nothing you can do. What am I supposed to do? I don’t have a joystick. I can’t move it once I hit it.”

He hit the ball hard recently, but every ball seems to find a defender’s glove. That’s one reason Johnson — though frustrated and eager to contribute more — isn’t going to panic.

“There’s really nothing to change,” he said. “I feel good (at the plate), but the results aren’t there.”

Still, despite the struggles at the plate, the Royals are 21-9 in games he’s played since that Tampa series.

“That’s good to know, but runs saved isn’t as sexy a statistic as batting average,” Johnson said.

Perez progresses

All-Star catcher Salvy Perez continues to make progress as he recovers from a concussion suffered last Saturday when he took a series of foul balls off his mask.

Perez, who is on the seven-day concussion disabled list, resumed baseball activities on Friday for the first time after his Impact test showed improvement.

He ran more in the outfield and was able to shift side to side before catching a few bullpen sessions and taking some swings in the batting cage.

The earliest Perez can return to the active roster is Sunday, and there’s a chance he’ll be ready to return by then.

“Hopefully, yeah, but that’s a big hope,” Yost said. “If he continues to progress the way he’s done, I don’t see it as an impossibility.”

Scoring changes

Alex Gordon got his 200th double sooner than the Royals realized.

He was recognized for the feat on Wednesday during the series finale against the Twins, but that officially was his 201st career double thanks to a scoring change.

Gordon’s drive to left center field in Sunday’s series finale against the Mets at Citi Field was originally ruled an error, but it was changed to a hit along with Lorenzo Cain’s pop fly into shallow right field.

More ratings records

Another Royals win, another record-breaking night for Fox Sports Kansas City as Thursday's 5-1 victory against Boston is now the highest-rated Royals game ever, breaking a previous mark that was just set on Monday (10.2).

Thursday night's game had an 11.4 rating in the KC market and peaked at 13.8, which is 128,000 households.

Fox Sports KC — whose Royals broadcasts are averaging a 6.2 rating, an increase of 60 percent from last season — was the top-rated channel in prime time Thursday and the most-watched TV program in Kansas City.

The five highest-rated Royals broadcasts ever have all come in the last week.

OK Joe’s nabs another fan

While in the nation’s barbecue capital, David Ortiz couldn’t resist. He stopped at Oklahoma Joe’s for lunch Friday and ordered a slab of ribs.

The verdict?

“Amazing, man — it’s on another level,” Ortiz said.

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.

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