The direction of the hits is what appealed to Eric Hosmer after a 12-6 loss to the Indians on Thursday. His third-inning home run and his fifth-inning double both soared into left field. Even in spring training, opposite-field, extra-base hits are cause for celebration.
"That means I’m going good, if I’m staying that way," Hosmer said. "That’s the field you want to stay in, especially on fastball."
Hosmer is now hitting .303 this spring. The Royals lost their lead when Cleveland cobbled together a four-run inning off P.J. Walters, who is trying to make this club as a long reliever. The Indians scored another five runs off Everett Teaford in the eighth.
Jeremy Guthrie struck out five in three innings, but he placed plenty of traffic on the bases. The Indians dinged him for three runs. He gave up five hits and walked three.
"At the beginning I really didn’t have an idea how to throw a strike, or throw down in the zone," Guthrie said. "I labored through the first 1 1/3 innings."
The team wanted him to throw four innings. But his pitch count accelerated too quickly.
"Glad he got his work in," manager Ned Yost said. "Still refining his mechanics and his command."
Guthrie gave up a pair in the first inning. The first three Indians reached base: Michael Bourn walked. Nick Swisher singled. Jason Kipnis singled home Bourne. Guthrie committed a throwing error trying to pick off Kipnis, which allowed Swisher to score.
The Royals scratched back to tie by the top of the third. Mike Moustakas singled and came around to score in the second. Then Hosmer ripped that solo shot, his second of the spring.
Guthrie allowed a run in the third. Hosmer doubled to open the fifth. He scored on a single by Carlos Peguero. Moustakas plated another run with a sacrifice fly.
When Yost mentioned long-relief candidates who could make this club, he floated the names of Everett Teaford and P.J. Walters. Both are on the outside looking in, as the team appears more likely to go without a long man. Both struggled on Thursday.
Walters gave up four runs on five hits in 1 2/3 innings. Teaford weathered a five-run fusillade from the Indians in the eighth.
Shortstop Alcides Escobar received a cortisone shot to combat the inflammation in his right shoulder. The team still hopes he returns to action after two or three more days off.
Omar Infante battled a similar injury this spring. He did not require any injunctions. But because Opening Day is closer now, the team felt compelled to eradicate Escobar’s problem at a quicker rate.
"We needed to go ahead and knock it out," Yost said.
Yost indicated Escobar may swing a bat on Thursday. The discomfort arises when he throws, though. He first reported an issue a day or two after arriving here at camp. He needs about 10 days of healthy activity to be ready for the season, Yost estimated.
Brett Tomko, who has appeared in eight big-league games since 2009, has agreed to a minor-league deal with the team. He did not receive an invitation to big-league camp. Tomko threw a tryout for team officials earlier this week. Tomko pitched 60 2/3 innings for the Royals in 2008 and posted a 6.97 ERA.
Danny Duffy gets a chance to match Yordano Ventura’s excellent performance from Wednesday when he pitches against Oakland at Surprise Stadium. In a minor-league game that afternoon, Bruce Chen will also pitch.
"Guys are working hard. It’s coming down to crunch time now. A couple weeks left. We’ve just got to come in, be consistent with the work and stay at it." – Eric Hosmer on the approaching season.