Along with the rest of the Royals, first baseman Eric Hosmer had a day off Thursday.
He doesn’t want another one anytime soon.
Hosmer said Friday that he was happy with how his right hand felt this week in his first three games back from the disabled list, and that he feels ready now for the rest of the season, however long that goes.
“I’m at the point I can play every single day,” Hosmer said before the Royals began their weekend series with the New York Yankees. “Definitely at this point it’s responding well.”
The Royals have only one more off day on the schedule, on Sept. 18 between home series against the White Sox and Tigers.
Hosmer went two for 11 this week against the Rangers, but he felt comfortable at the plate and felt good about his swings. The Royals felt the same after watching their first baseman play for the first time since July 31.
“He looked like Eric Hosmer before he got hurt,” manager Ned Yost said.
Hosmer said this week that the excitement of returning to the active roster was similar to what he felt when he was first called up to the big leagues in 2011.
“It’s almost like getting called up all over again,” he said.
Here’s another similarity: Hosmer debuted in 2011 with three home games, followed by a trip to New York.
He’d love for the similarities to continue, because Hosmer did well in that first three-game series in New York. He hit his first two major-league home runs and also had his first three-hit game.
He’s done well at Yankee Stadium ever since, entering play Friday night with a .375 batting average and 1.110 OPS in 10 games. He hit safely in nine of the 10 games, with two hits or more in four of them.
“Anytime you get to play in these stadiums, it’s special,” Hosmer said. “These are places you dreamed of playing in. And especially being here in September, with something to play for.
“Everyone’s looking forward to this series.”
Hosmer played only two rehab games with Class AAA Omaha before joining the Royals on Monday. The Royals could have chosen to have Hosmer play with Omaha in the Pacific Coast League playoffs, too, but decided they wanted him back with them instead.
“We felt he gave us the best chance to win now,” general manager Dayton Moore said.
Moore cited Hosmer’s athleticism and also said the Royals figured they would at least benefit from his defense at first base. He admitted they weren’t sure how Hosmer’s timing would be after a month away from seeing big-league pitching.
No complaints from Shields
Manager Ned Yost pulled James Shields two outs short of what would have been his 23rd career complete game and 10th career shutout. But Shields said he had no problem with the decision.
“It’s a 1-0 game, and we can’t get too many guys on base,” said Shields, who allowed a one-out Derek Jeter single before departing in favor of Wade Davis. “Wade did a great job in the ninth. The guys in the back end of the bullpen, I’ll hand the ball to those guys anytime.”
Shields and Davis, of course, came over to the Royals in the same trade.
“Yeah, those ex-Rays boys,” Shields said. “Wade was really determined and focused. I guess that’s why [general manager Dayton Moore] acquired him.”
Hosmer said he was thrilled that the Royals again won the first game of a series. But Yost dismissed the idea that Friday’s win could set a tone.
“I don’t know how you can set a tone when you win 1-0,” Yost said.
Looking forward to Jeter Day
The Royals were thrilled that the Yankees scheduled Derek Jeter Day for Sunday, with a ceremony before the final game of this weekend’s series.
“Everybody’s going to watch that,” Omar Infante said.
“That’s going to be a pretty cool moment,” Alex Gordon said. “He’s one of the best players ever to play the game, and maybe the most respected player in the game. Just how he acts, how he carries himself, it’s how you want every player to be.”
“The schedule kind of worked out in our favor,” Mike Moustakas said. “We’re going to see something pretty cool.”
Focusing on the race
Understandably, Yost wants the Royals focused on winning their division rather than having any thoughts right now about the wild-card race. But Yost insisted that his focus doesn’t include following along daily with how the Tigers are doing.
He said he didn’t check the score of the Tigers’ Thursday night game with Cleveland and didn’t know until Friday that the Tigers had won in extra innings.
“I was in bed way before that game ended,” he said. “Other people can (watch the scoreboard), but I like to stay focused on what we’re doing.”
The Royals released pitcher Bruce Chen, who was designated for assignment on Aug. 29. Chen was 2-4 with a 7.45 ERA in 13 appearances this season.