AT&T Park will provide Royals some unique defensive challenges
SAN FRANCISCO -- Eric Hosmer is eager to see what makes San Francisco's waterfront ballpark unique.
"I know absolutely nothing," the Kansas City first baseman said. "I've heard nothing but good things about it, the atmosphere and the energy the crowd brings. I've always wanted to play there."
"I'm sure going for the first time for a World Series game, it should be fun," he said.
Well, wait until he trips over a bullpen mound chasing a foul ball. Or a teammate loses a fly in the mist that wafts above shallow center. Or those swirling winds turn a routine popup into an all-out scramble.
Who knows? Might even get a crazy carom off that odd-shaped brick facade on the right-field wall, resulting in the first Series inside-the-park home run since 1929.
Yep, loads of fun.
Hosmer, Alex Gordon, Mike Moustakas and most of the Royals will get their first look at quirky AT&T Park during a workout Thursday. Then it's on to Game 3 on Friday with Kansas City and the Giants tied at 1-all. Tim Hudson starts for San Francisco against Jeremy Guthrie.
The Royals' only trip to San Francisco came in 2005 and they took two of three. Buddy Bell was the manager, Tony Graffanino batted third and Jeremy Affeldt was in the bullpen.
The 35-year-old Affeldt now pitches for the Giants and came on in relief Wednesday night in a 7-2 loss. He said he figured the Royals could handle the new park.
"That's an athletic team over there. So I think they can make adjustments. I don't think we'll go in thinking that they're at a disadvantage because of not being at our ballpark," he said.
About one-third of the Royals have played at AT&T Park with other teams. Of the most frequent visitors, Josh Willingham has hit .352 with five homers in 16 games and Omar Infante has batted .307 in 19 games, STATS said.
Among the pitchers, Guthrie did fine in two starts and Jason Frasor made two relief appearances.
Outfielder Lorenzo Cain played one game at the stadium in 2010 when he was with Milwaukee. The AL Championship Series MVP plans to practice with coach Rusty Kuntz to "work on my angles and see how the park plays."
"It's kind of a work in progress and a wait-and-see type thing," Cain said.
Good luck, Giants designated hitter Michael Morse said.
"It's a big park; right field is tricky. The wind does a lot of different things in the outfield, so our guys are used to it," he said.
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"It's tough. It's tough out there. But everybody's a professional. I don't think it will be a factor," he said.
One thing will change, for sure. With no DH in the NL park, Morse and Kansas City's Billy Butler will lose their spots. Morse drove in a run during a 7-1 win in the opener, while Butler already has three hits and a pair of RBI.
With tight foul ground, gusts that whip off McCovey Cove, twilight starts and pesky seagulls that hover around in the late innings, a lot of balls become adventures in San Francisco. In 2007, Ichiro Suzuki hit the first inside-the-park home run in an All-Star Game when his shot off the right-field wall took a weird ricochet.
There have been nine inside-the-parkers in World Series play. Lou Gehrig and Casey Stengel are on the list, and Mule Haas of the Philadelphia Athletics hit the last one in 1929.
Plus, postseason is frequently a weather adventure in the Bay Area. Players need to pack for all sorts of conditions -- short sleeves, hoodies, hats and gloves.
During the NLCS, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said the teams played in the toughest winds of the season. Right fielder Hunter Pence had no chance trying to track a fly ball by St. Louis' Kolten Wong that landed for a triple.
"You play this game, you play in a lot of different ballparks and you find a way to adjust," Pence said this week. "I think everyone's going to enjoy it."
Moustakas was looking forward to the trip. Raised in Southern California, the Royals third baseman has seen AT&T Park only on television.
"I don't know anything about it," he said. "It looks like a beautiful park. I've always wanted to see it, and this is a great opportunity to go there."