KANSAS CITY, Mo. – No one knows you better than family.
At least that was Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer’s philosophy this off-season as he made preparations to come back better than ever in 2013.
After a dismal season in 2012 in which Hosmer hit just .232 with 14 homers and 60 RBIs, Hosmer went back to his Florida home and worked out with his older brother, Mike Jr.
“I actually bought a house in the Miami area with some land,” Hosmer said. “I got a batting cage set up there and I worked out with Mike. During the season it’s a faster pace and there’s a game every night so you don’t get a chance to slow things down and analyze it the way you want.
“I went home and I had my brother take a look at my swing. He’s been watching my swing ever since I was a little kid. I told him, ‘If you don’t see anything that you didn’t see when I was a little kid, let me know.’ We basically worked the whole offseason and we feel like we’re in a good spot now. I finally got to sit back, slow everything down, work on stuff, watch a lot of video and just kind of get back to the old swing.”
And what was Mike’s analysis?
“I think I was leaking out on my front side a little too much,” Hosmer said. “I wasn’t keeping my weight back on by back leg. That keeps me down and through the ball and that was the same thing that Seitz (former hitting coach Kevin Seitzer) was really trying to preach. That keeps my swing level. So that’s what I’ve been working on.”
Of course, not all of Hosmer’s 2012 woes were physical or mechanical. He admits his tough lough at the start of the season — the incredible amount of line-drive outs he hit — got in his head.
“In the beginning of the season it started out as bad luck and then after that I just wasn’t very good,” Hosmer said. “That was basically what I told my brother. I asked him ‘What do you see? Does anything look different?’ There really wasn’t much. Just the front side starting too quickly.”
Hosmer hit just .188 in April and just .218 in May, even though quite often he was scorching the ball.
“It was real frustrating,” he said. “I hit the ball hard. But you start thinking you have to do more just to break out of it. But you try to listen to the guys in the locker room that have experience and know more and I plan on doing that more this time.
“You have to realize that even if you get in a slump you have time. You don’t have to break out of it in one day. Just take it at bat by at bat. Now, I’m going to take it slower and just do my part to help the team win.”
Hosmer will have a new hitting coach this season as Jack Maloof takes over for Seitzer. But Hosmer doesn’t believe the transition will be an issue.
“Me and Jack have been in contact the whole off-season,” Hosmer said. “I’ve sent him videos of my swing and I’ve been working with him since I was in the minor leagues. He was the (hitting) coordinator back then so it’s not like it’s a brand new hitting coach I’m working with. It’s Jack and I’ve been working with him since I was 18 years old.”
The main reason for the change in hitting coaches, according to manager Ned Yost, was the need to put more of an emphasis on the long ball. Hosmer doesn’t necessarily believe the hitting coach will make the difference in that area.
“Every hitter is different in that approach,” Hosmer said. “I loved Kevin Seitzer. He was a guy who stuck around with me every day and worked with me and I really appreciated that. His knowledge of hitting is unbelievable.
“But I’m excited to be working again with Jack, too.”
Hosmer naturally has plenty of motivation to have a bounce-back year. For one thing, he wants to claim the No. 3 spot in the order, something Yost wants as well.
Yost reluctantly put the slumping Hosmer in the No. 8 spot toward the end of the season.
“I didn’t like it at all, to be really honest with you,” Hosmer said, laughing. “It’s obviously not where I wanted to be.
“But I can get back (to No. 3). I really want to get back to that position. I’m fortunate enough to still have a chance to get to that spot in spring training. I just want to go out there and do what’s necessary to do that.”