Royals’ Billy Hamilton explains what happened on that costly dropped fly ball

Royals’ Billy Hamilton says he lost fly ball in the sun

Royals center fielder Billy Hamilton dropped a fly ball that would have ended Kansas City’s losing streak.
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Royals center fielder Billy Hamilton dropped a fly ball that would have ended Kansas City’s losing streak.

Billy Hamilton spent Friday afternoon with a trainer as his chaperone. He shagged fly balls, took some swings in a batting cage and tried running some sprints — all to test a knee injury that he said was still causing him a bit of pain.

It remained painful for the Royals, too.

They entered a three-game series with Cleveland at Kauffman Stadium on a 10-game losing streak that they had every opportunity to squash a day earlier. Hamilton, in particular. The final out of a would-be victory on Thursday popped in and out of his glove, and he injured his knee on the play. An MRI showed no structural damage, and he called himself day-to-day.

That play, however, lingered.

“That’s a play I make — should make,” Hamilton said. “I’m mad at myself. I should’ve made that play. But the sun was a big factor to it at the end. The ball actually got in the sun, so I had to take my eye off it a little bit. The ball hit the tip of my glove. I was cussing myself at that. That’s a play I gotta make, especially in a situation like that. I feel like that play is on me.”

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As Hamilton further explained it, during most of the baseball’s flight, the clouds were its backdrop. But as the ball approached his glove, it moved into the sun. He briefly lost track of it, he said.

And the Royals lost another game.

But they won’t lose their center fielder. Hamilton has an MCL sprain and bone bruise. “When I first did it, I thought it was way worse than the outcome (ended up). I’m blessed for that,” he said.

That’s about the only silver lining of the play.

“I went home mad,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “I couldn’t control what happened to (Hamilton) — I knew the trainers, as soon as they found out what was going on, they would give me a call.

“I wasn’t worried; I was mad. That was our 10th loss in a row. It was a game I thought we were going to win. We didn’t win.”

With Hamilton’s absence from Friday’s lineup, the Royals opted for Chris Owings in center field rather than Whit Merrifield. While playing in the outfield on Thursday, Merrifield gashed his shin on a dive. He’s healthy enough to be in the lineup, but Yost wanted to limit the ground he needs to cover, so Merrifield will play second base.

Owings is in the outfield for the first time this season.

“I think the outfield is more of just being an athlete, and you have to get good jumps off the bat,” Owings said. “The infield is more about repetition. With the outfield, you have a little more time. You just have to get good reads.”

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