Originally written April 29, 2013 on Fox Sports Kansas City:
KANSAS CITY, Mo. No one is proclaiming that Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer is "back." But there certainly have been signs in the past week that Hosmer is resembling the prospect that everyone in baseball was raving about after his rookie season (.293, 19 homers, 78 RBIs) and not the flop he was last year (.232, 14 homers, 60 RBIs). Hosmer's resurgence, if it truly is one, started with the day-night doubleheader on the road at Boston when Hosmer went four for nine. And he has continued to inch closer to his former self by going nine for his last 27 (.333). More important than the numbers, Hosmer looks like the hitter the Royals and their fans dreamed would occupy the No. 3 hole in the order for years to come. Hosmer appears more selective at the plate, he is using the opposite field, and he has cut back dramatically on the number of roll-over routine grounders to second that plagued his dreadful 2012 season. "I honestly don't even want to talk about last year," Hosmer told FOX Sports Kansas City. "That's over and I've done my best to forget it. I got to the off-season and I just flushed it away and started working on my approach. "I spent a lot of time at home in Florida with my brother looking at video and working on my swing. The main thing is I just want to really take each at bat for what it is. Just stay with that one at bat, and stay with the approach." While Hosmer said he is done talking about 2012, he does concede how things went so terribly wrong. "I ran into some bad luck early last year and then tried to do too much with each at bat," he said. "That got me in trouble and I'm trying to avoid that this year. If I just focus on each individual at bat, look for something in my zone, I'll be fine. "I'm slowing everything down as best I can and I'm not trying to overswing so much. I'm trying to look for good pitches to hit and lay off the bad ones." So far, the results are a modest improvement. He is hitting .266 overall with no homers and eight RBIs. But unlike last year, Hosmer vows to ignore the statistics and trust his approach. "It definitely feels a lot better," he said. "If you stay focused on the present and just look at the game from each at bat and each game, you won't get too down or too depressed. You focus on the little things and those things help your team win." Even the casual fan probably has noticed that the left-handed hitting Hosmer seems more comfortable shooting the ball the other way this year. "That's when I'm going best, when I hit the ball hard to left-center," he said "You have to stay with breaking pitches longer and if you do, you can drive the ball to the opposite field and that's when you get hits. "That's how I'm thinking right now, just look at each pitch and go with that pitch where ever the location is." Interestingly, the rest of the league seems still somewhat unconvinced. He is often defended with an infield overshift where the shortstop moves almost directly behind second base, and the third baseman moves over to the shortstop position. On Saturday night against Cleveland, Hosmer hit two rockets straight up the middle that appeared to be base hits. Instead, both were fairly routine outs. "More teams are trying to do that now to me," Hosmer said. "But I've fortunately got a few hits this year through some holes on the left side that would have been easy balls right to the shortstop normally, or easy plays to the third baseman. Hopefully it will even out over the course of the season where every hard out up the middle is (balanced) by a hit through an open hole on the left side. Hosmer said there is a danger of purposely trying to force balls through open holes on the left side. "You take a look at how they're set up," Hosmer said. "I don't think it changes your approach that much. But then again, you know that if you get a ball away from you that you can drive it to the left side for maybe a hit. You don't go in thinking that but it's there is you want it." Royals manager Ned Yost, who often dropped Hosmer to the No. 8 spot in the order last season, has moved him up to the cleanup spot, even though Hosmer has yet to go deep this season. "Not worried about the home runs," Yost said. "Those will come. He's too good a hitter. Right now he's had consistently good at bats every night. That's all we're looking for. The power stuff will come." Hosmer, who wasn't afraid to voice his displeasure over hitting eighth last season, is relieved to back in the middle of the order. "I like hitting fourth," he said. "It's a lot better than hitting down in the lineup. You get guys on base when you come up and that's always a challenge but it's fun, too. I like being there. "But no matter where I'm hitting, I just have to take it slow and focus on what's happening now and not what has happened."
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