Hosmer to RF? Hmm, idea is crazy enough, it might work
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — OK, so this one comes totally out of left field.
Well, actually, it comes totally out of right field.
Consider this possibility: In search of more offense this off-season, the Royals find it more economically feasible to land a free-agent first baseman or designated hitter than a right fielder.
Therefore, they ask Eric Hosmer — who has played some right field at this level — to make the switch from first base to the outfield, much like the switch Alex Gordon made from third base to left field.
The idea is not totally far-fetched, Royals general manager Dayton Moore said.
“Those are good questions or possibilities,” Moore told me. “Those are things you ask your staff and things you debate.
“Eric Hosmer can do a lot of things on a baseball field because he is so athletic. The fact that he is left-left (hitter and thrower) puts him in a position to play first base and outfield. But he would do whatever we asked him to do.”
Hosmer said he would be open to the idea.
“I’d be open to whatever the front office asked me to do,” Hosmer said. “If Dayton asked me something, I’m not going to say no. He’s my boss. I’ll do whatever he tells me to do.”
The problem, of course, is Hosmer’s lack of experience in the outfield — he has played just three games there in the big leagues.
“I played it in some summer leagues,” Hosmer said. “One summer after my senior year I played it the whole time. Other than that, it has just been spot starts.”
Unlike Gordon, Hosmer wouldn’t get the chance to learn the position while in the minors. Gordon had the benefit of months of learning his new position at Triple A with roving instructor Rusty Kuntz constantly coaching him up.
“To truly learn the position,” said Kuntz, now the Royals’ first base coach, “you’d really have to spend the off-season working on all the fundamentals. There’s a lot to it. Now, spot starts, you can get by. But to learn it the way Alex learned it, it takes work and time.”
An American League scout agreed, conceding that Hosmer’s athletic skills are above average, but that his frame isn’t ideal to learn the position quickly.
“He’s got that tall, lean look and those long legs would have to get trained so his footwork would be right,” the scout said. “It’s pretty easy to look silly if you don’t get the footwork right.”
Hosmer said if a switch were made, he would prefer to learn a new position at this level, first during spring training and then during the regular season.
“I’m not spending an off-season in Instructional League, I can guarantee that,” Hosmer said, smiling. “But hey, if (a switch to the outfield) did have to happen, and it did work out, hopefully it would work out as good as it did for Gordo (Alex Gordon).
“I think you definitely can learn it at this level because you got guys like Gordo and Rusty (Kuntz) helping.”
Moore agreed that Hosmer could learn under fire.
“Just go out and play,” Moore said. “He could do it at this level. He’s a good enough athlete and is strong enough mentally. He’s played it before at the major league level.
“Look, it’s not something we’re contemplating at this very moment. But you always look at your players and what they could do. Look at Salvador Perez. We think he could play first base. We think he could play third base in a pinch. He’s a good enough athlete to do that.
“All these guys are gifted athletes. It’s a team that can be versatile. “
And finding more offense for the Royals may require more versatility.
“It’d be new scenery for me,” Hosmer said. “When I played it in interleague play, it was fun. It’s a whole different view, I’ll say that.”
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email at email@example.com.