Hosmer's Hitting WoesThursday, May 17, 2012
If a 15-inning game between the Royals and Orioles to be played in Kansas City in mid-May had been foretold before the start of the season, it would have been easy to envision any number of grisly sights.
An 0-for-7 performance with five strikeouts from Chris Davis. A 2 2/3 inning start from Luke Hochevar. Seven at-bats from Jeff Francoeur where he sees a total of 10 pitches. Five combined errors between the Orioles’ corner infielders. A jersey that read “Baltmiore” instead of “Baltimore.” (Even though the Orioles’ jerseys are lettered in cursive script.) A quarter full Kauffman Stadium watching two of the majors’ most perennially depressing teams.
The list of plausible possibilities could go on and on.
What you might not have predicted was an 0-for-7 night from 2011 Rookie of the Year candidate and former super prospect Eric Hosmer.
Alas, that’s what we got in our come-to-life O’s/Royals marathon on Wednesday, and the would-be Wizard of Hoz is now batting an unseemly .174/.237/.319 through his first 156 plate appearances.
That Hosmer is struggling shouldn’t come as that big of a surprise. Sophomore campaigns can often be tougher than rookie seasons. The book is out, and it’s up to the sophomores to adjust.
But .174/.237/.319? For a player who hit .293/.334/.465 as a rookie? Who was a career .312/.393/.493 minor-league hitter and two-time Top 25 prospect on Baseball America’s annual list?
So what does it mean? If you go by what I will assume the Royals’ radio and T.V. announcers are saying, he’s due.
If you go by the fact that Hosmer is still only 22 years old and probably has as little confidence right now as he’s ever had playing baseball, he might be in line for a minor-league pit stop if this keeps up much longer.
Hosmer is talented enough to snap out of it at any given moment. But he’s also raw enough that it just might not be possible without a change in circumstance/scenery. The Hoz is still an excellent bet for a great career and possibly even a great 2012. But don’t be shocked if the Royals soon decide they’ve seen enough and send their first baseman of the present and future to Triple-A Omaha for a 2-3 week tune up.
Too Good to Be True?
Carlos Beltran has 13 home runs in 35 games this season. That’s exceptional, but not too good to be true for a player who entered 2012 with 302 bombs in 1,768 career games.
But you know what is too good to be true? That a player who appeared in only 145 games between the 2009-10 seasons has made only one trip to the disabled list in the past two years.
So as Beltran prepares to sit out for the fourth consecutive game with knee and foot soreness this afternoon, the question is, is this a routine, minor injury for a 35-year-old veteran, or the sands of time and karma catching up with a player who broke down following an electrifying 10-year start to his career?
Beltran insists it’s the former, saying Wednesday that he felt "much better,” and that he wants to "make sure that when I'm back, I'm back."
But he also refused to completely rule out a D.L. stint, and with it still being May and the Cardinals having the depth to overcome injury, don’t believe that’s not where Beltran is headed until you see him back on the field for 2-3 straight games.
From Bad to Worse
Things haven’t been going well for the Twins and Giants in May. On Wednesday, they got a little bit worse.
While the Giants learned Melky Cabrera was dealing with a toe injury, the Twins were forced to send Ryan Doumit to the disabled list with a strained right calf.
Cabrera has arguably been the Giants’ best hitter this season, while Doumit has been one of the Twins’ top bats in May.
The good news is that Cabrera was able to pinch hit in Wednesday’s loss to the Cardinals. The bad news is that Doumit is expected to need more than the minimum 15 days on the shelf.
Cabrera’s status will be updated this afternoon.
Game Notes: Albert Pujols put his name alongside such superstars as Clint Barmes and Jeff Mathis in the Two Home Run Club. 2K Sports is scrambling to put together a new Kate Upton promotion. … Jamie Moyer had a quality start. And, oh, he also became the oldest player in major-league history to drive in a run. … David Freese snapped an 0-for-16 skid by going 3-for-4 with a home run and double. … Giancarlo Stanton homered for the seventh time in May. … Kyle Drabek surprisingly dominated the Yankees while Jose Bautista ripped his ninth home run. … Clay Buchholz had his best start of the season. Even if it is only ever so slightly, his stock is trending upward. … Carlos Ruiz homered again. … So did Adam Jones and Edwin Encarnacion. … Yu Darvish breezed by the A’s.
National League Short Hops: Carlos Beltran’s most logical fill-in, Allen Craig, was removed from Wednesday’s game with “left hamstring discomfort.” He’s questionable for this afternoon, and possibly “beyond.” … Chase Utley (knee) fielded grounders for the first time this season. If he wakes up without any abnormal soreness today, it would be a huge step in the right direction. … An MRI of Vance Worley’s pitching elbow revealed only inflammation. It’s possible he could spend the minimum 15 days on the disabled list. … Carlos Quentin received a cortisone shot in his ailing right knee. He could resume his rehab assignment early next week. ... Drew Storen (elbow) is hoping to return near the All-Star break. That could be too late to reclaim his closing job depending on how things are going in the Nationals bullpen.
American League Short Hops: Brett Lawrie will continue to play as he awaits the appeal of his four-game suspension. … Austin Jackson left Wednesday’s game with a “mild abdominal strain.” He’s currently day-to-day, but his prognosis could quickly change. … Jackson’s teammate Jose Valverde is also day-to-day with a lower-back strain. … Denard Span sat out for the second straight day with a tight hamstring. He’s day-to-day. … Andrew Bailey (thumb) will begin a throwing program next week. He’s aiming to return near the All-Star break. … Per manager Bobby Valentine, Bailey’s would-be teammate Daisuke Matsuzaka (elbow) won’t rejoin the Red Sox at the conclusion of his rehab assignment.