In a rare defensive meltdown on Saturday in Houston, former Royal Eric Hosmer misplayed a pop-up into a walk-off loss for his new team, the San Diego Padres.
That very day in Cleveland, the man signed only because of Hosmer’s departure from Kansas City, Lucas Duda, homered for the lone run in a 1-0 win at Cleveland.
On Monday, when the home team skunked Seattle 10-0 at Kauffman Stadium, across the state at Busch Stadium, former Royal Lorenzo Cain of the Brewers went out with a quad strain after stepping on the inexpertly extended Achilles of Jose Martinez at first base.
And another ex, Greg Holland, gave up four walks (one intentional) in the 10th inning to take the loss in his Cardinals debut.
None of which is to suggest that the Royals wouldn’t relish still having Hosmer, Cain and Holland or that these twists are necessarily anything more than quirky contrasts for the time being alone.
But all of which is to say life and baseball go on as they will, as expected or not, even as some time stands still forever.
Even as the Royals reel themselves in financially and reboot organizationally and key parts of their World Series runs wear uniforms that just look strange on them to anyone who followed them through those glory days.
The teammates, the clubhouse culture, the fans …
“All the intense games we had together, all the goosebumps and chills that we shared together (are) something I’m going to spend the rest of my life just knowing,” said Cain, who is day-to-day with the injury. “That ring is something that no one can take away from you.”
As he thought of his time in Kansas City, where he was the first draft pick of general manager Dayton Moore to reach the major leagues and last pitched when he blew out his elbow in 2015, Holland reflected on the strong ongoing friendships and the chemistry of a special time and place that “I’m hoping to emulate here” and how the organization expanded his world.
“I’ve got friends from the Dominican (Republic) and Venezuela (and beyond), and I don’t know if working a normal job in North Carolina would have allowed me to experience that,” said Holland, who even as a former Royal was among a few players to travel to the Dominican Republic for the funeral of Yordano Ventura in 2017. “It was tough, but I’m fortunate that I had the opportunity to go down there for that.
“And he stays with me.”
So none of that will ever change, even as the economic realities of a small-market franchise with a debilitating TV contract lurked and inevitably pounced.
“You just find a way to move on,” said Cain, who signed a five-year, $80 million contract with the team that originally drafted him. “We all knew it would eventually happen. We couldn’t play together forever. The game just doesn’t work that way anymore.”
The way the game works, at least in terms of free agency, seemed to sustain a seismic shift in the offseason.
The market was so widely tepid and slow as to arouse accusations of collusion vs. defenses of common sense prevailing.
Whatever the case …
“I would call it a weird offseason for everybody,” said Cain, who is hitting .283.
Cain signed with Milwaukee in January for what stands as the fifth-most lucrative deal of the offseason, with Hosmer’s eight-year, $144 million at the top.
Meanwhile, the stingy circumstances enabled the Royals to sign at bargain rates the likes of Mike Moustakas (one year, $6.5 million) and Alcides Escobar (one year, $2.5 million). Holland remained unaffiliated until the end of March, despite earning the National League comeback player of the year award in 2017 with 41 saves for the Rockies.
The offseason “was not what I had anticipated,” said Holland, who signed a one-year, $14 million deal with the Cardinals.
Even so, he considered himself in “really good shape” when he got the call to fill a role the Cardinals consider vital to a viable postseason run.
And given the temperatures in the 30s and the fact that he had made just two appearances at Class A Palm Beach before being summoned to St. Louis, it’s reasonable to figure Monday night was an oddity.
In any event, by Tuesday afternoon, Holland was all-in on the mantra of the closer.
“I’m not in the business of talking about what happened yesterday. … Once I’ve laid my head down at night, I’ve forgotten about it,” he said, later adding, “That’s what professionals do. You can’t dwell on the past.”
But you can appreciate what it was — even as you find a way to move on into whatever uncharted adventure the next chapter might hold.