DETROIT | First baseman Eric Hosmer, the third overall pick in the June draft, should be able to resume his pro career with the Royals now that Pittsburgh has reached a new contract agreement with third baseman Pedro Alvarez.
“We haven’t heard anything officially,” general manager Dayton Moore cautioned, “but the most important thing for the Kansas City Royals is for (Hosmer) to get back on the field.”
The only apparent remaining hang-up is a resolution of the union grievance that Commissioner Bud Selig acted improperly in extending the Aug. 15 negotiating deadline to allow the Pirates and Alvarez to reach their previous deal.
Officials from both sides say privately that should be resolved soon.
Assuming Hosmer gets clearance to return to action, plans call for him to head for Surprise, Ariz., to take part in the Instructional League, which is under way and runs through Oct. 17.
While all parties agree the Royals completed their deal with Hosmer before the 11 p.m. Central time deadline, it was not approved by Major League Baseball until after it sanctioned the previous contract between the Pirates and Alvarez.
Alvarez’s agent, Scott Boras, sought to have the first contract declared void because the agreement came after the deadline. Boras also represents Hosmer.
Arbitrator Shyam Das heard testimony on the matter Sept. 10 in New York. Another session was planned for today, but it is now unclear whether it will proceed.
The grievance prompted MLB to order the Royals to halt Hosmer’s playing career after three games at short-season Idaho Falls.
“We never thought we were going to lose the player,” Moore said. “If they (the Pirates and Alvarez) have reached an agreement, I would think we’ll hear something (soon).”
Hosmer received a $6 million bonus and was four for 11 in three games at Idaho Falls before ordered out of action.
Alvarez’s first deal also includes a $6 million bonus. His new deal is believed to be worth $6.355 million over four years. It is also a Major League contract, which places Alvarez on the Pirates’ 40-man roster.
The starting time for Saturday’s game at Minnesota has changed to 2:55 p.m. to accommodate Fox TV. It was previously scheduled for a 6:10 p.m. start at the Metrodome.
The Twins are 2½ games behind first-place Chicago in the American League Central Division.
Sheffield on the side
The Royals won’t have to worry this week about Tigers DH Gary Sheffield, who began serving a four-game suspension Monday for his role in last Friday’s on-field brawl with Cleveland pitcher Fausto Carmona.
Three Indians received suspensions for their role in the brawl: Carmona, second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera and catcher Victor Martinez. Carmona drew a six-game ban while Cabrera and Martinez were each suspended for three games.
Carmona and Martinez also began serving their suspensions Monday when the Indians opened a four-game series at Boston. Cabrera will begin serving his suspension on Thursday.
Right-hander Robinson Tejeda remains hopeful of pitching again this season after testing his strained left hip flexor by playing long toss in pre-game drills.
“It’s a start,” he said.
It’s also a long shot.
“What he would have to do to make me comfortable,” manager Trey Hillman said, “is to throw a full-blown bullpen and then, possibly, throw live to some hitters when we get to the field early in Minnesota.
“If he can do that full-tilt and come in the following day with no ramifications, then I’d consider pitching him. There’s just not many calendar days to deal with.”
The Royals started the final week trailing Detroit by two games in their quest to avoid a fifth straight last-place finish in the American League Central Division.
It’s an uphill challenge, though.
The Tigers had a three-game lead in the loss column and had played two fewer games. Detroit will make up one game Thursday when it opens a four-game home series against Tampa Bay.
The Royals have an open date Thursday before closing the season this weekend with three games at Minnesota.
The Tigers’ other game is a makeup game at Chicago, which will only be played next Monday if the White Sox and Twins are with-in one-half game of one another for the division title.
Looking to the Far East
The Nippon Ham Fighters are scuffling this season after reaching the Japan Series in the two previous years under Hillman. The Fighters are 68-68-2 through Sunday and occupy third place in the Pacific League, nine games behind first-place Seibu.
The Fighters are one-half game ahead of Chiba Lotte with six games remaining. The top three teams make the playoffs.
The season runs through Oct. 1.
Royals’ record for each starter
Here is the Royals’ record, through Sunday, in games started by members of the rotation:
Pitcher, Personal record, Club record
Gil Meche, 12-11, 17-15
Zack Greinke, 12-10, 16-15
Kyle Davies, 8-7, 10-10
Brian Bannister, 8-16, 12-19
Luke Hochevar, 6-12, 7-15
Brandon Duckworth, 3-2, 4-2
Brett Tomko, 2-6*, 3-7
Robinson Tejeda, 1-0*, 1-0
John Bale, 0-3, 0-3
* Record only as a starter.