Eric Hosmer did not experience a setback when he underwent an X-ray on his broken right hand Thursday. But the reading was discouraging in terms of his availability for the Royals in 2014.
The X-ray showed the stress fracture was healing but had not improved to the point where Hosmer could be cleared to begin a hitting program. Hosmer said he did not expect to have the hand examined again until the current 10-day road trip ends. Once cleared to swing, he would likely require a couple of weeks of exercises before he could appear in a game — and the minor-league seasons might be over by then, meaning rehab games would be harder to find.
Like Hosmer, manager Ned Yost indicated he was optimistic about the situation heading into Thursday’s examination.
“It’s not disappointing,” Yost said. “It’s the process.”
He added, “They’re starting to show some improvement in there. That line is starting to calcify. But it’s not all the way through yet. So he can’t do anything until they get more healing in there.”
Hosmer has been able to maintain his conditioning program. As his teammates took early batting practice Friday, he ran the Target Field steps with strength and conditioning coach Ryan Stoneberger. He and James Shields, who started Thursday, took part in the Ice Bucket Challenge, a social-media movement designed to raise awareness and donations for ALS research.
Four days after joining the Royals, Josh Willingham squared off against the team that traded him. He was in the final season of a three-year, $21 million deal with the Twins when Kansas City gave up Jason Adam to improve their lineup for the stretch run.
Willingham was on the road with Minnesota when the trade went down. He returned to the airport and drove back to his house here as part of a different club.
“It’s going to be really strange,” he said before the game. “I’m just trying to kind of go into the night with an open mind, let the emotions go where they go. And try and play well and help our team win.”
Cain gets two days off
Lorenzo Cain did not start Thursday’s series finale against Oakland, and for the opener here in Minneapolis, his name was once again not in the lineup. Yost opted for Jarrod Dyson in center field. Cain has one hit and three strikeouts in six at-bats against Twins starter Ricky Nolasco.
“I like Dyson’s matchup against Nolasco better,” Yost said. “We don’t just look at numbers. We look at the at-bats, too. (Cain’s) had some tough at-bats against Nolasco.”