That isn’t a mistake in the box score from the Royals’ 2-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday at Surprise Stadium. First baseman Eric Hosmer really did play the final three innings in right field.
“I’ve played in the summer out there in high school,” Hosmer said, “but, obviously, it’s different now. There were guys out there helping me out. I was just looking around to see what they’re doing — and moving one step along.
“It was fun.”
The move is designed to provide the Royals with a way to keep Hosmer and Billy Butler in the lineup for interleague road games when rules prohibit use of the designated hitter.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
“I’m going to try to get (Hosmer) in right field, or the outfield, three times this spring,” manager Ned Yost said. “I just want him to have some experience out there…I don’t want to throw him out there cold turkey (in the regular season).”
Hosmer entered the game in the top of the seventh, and the Royals kept speedy Jarrod Dyson in center field to help on balls in the gap. That proved unnecessary. The only ball that went Hosmer’s way was a one-out high foul by Jerry Sands in the ninth inning.
“I was waiting for one,” said Hosmer, who tracked the ball smoothly and made the catch near the wall. “For the most part, I won’t be a train wreck out there, but I wouldn’t expect any catches like Frenchy (Jeff Francoeur).
“It was cool to get out there. Something different. Hopefully, I’ll get better out there and we can do some more things with the lineup throughout the year.”
The Royals generally relegated Butler, their regular designated hitter, to the bench last season in interleague road games. By shifting Hosmer to right field, they can put Butler at first base and keep their three-four hitters in the lineup.
Hosmer had no objection.
“Absolutely not,” he said. “Billy deserves a shot to play first. He’s shown that by coming (to camp) in shape. His defense has gotten better, and it keeps us both in the lineup. Whatever Skip tells me to do, I’m going to do to the best of my ability.”
While Hosmer shagged some fly balls at the end of recent pregame workouts, he has never played the outfield as a professional.
“You just (need to) get accustomed to moving and seeing pitches out there,” Yost said. “It was nice that he could get a play out there, but just to get acclimated — moving around, playing the hitters and watching the ball off the bat — that’s good enough.”