SURPRISE, Ariz. — Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer will replace the injured Mark Teixeira on the United States team for the World Baseball Classic.
Hosmer received a text message late Tuesday from Tony Clark of the players union, asking if he’d be interested in a spot on the roster. After getting a call from U.S. manager Joe Torre and receiving the blessing of the Royals, Hosmer quickly agreed to join the Americans.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Hosmer said Wednesday. “Any chance you get to represent your country, you’re going to jump at the opportunity. So I’m very excited.”
Teixeira strained his right wrist while swinging off a tee Tuesday, shortly before the U.S. tied 4-4 with the Chicago White Sox in an exhibition game.
X-rays were negative and an MRI exam revealed a strain on the outside of Teixeira’s right forearm, near his wrist. He flew to New York City and was to be evaluated further Wednesday by Yankees team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad and hand specialist Dr. Melvin Rosenwasser.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Tuesday night in Tampa, Fla., that Teixeira would be out a minimum of 10 days.
“I certainly feel bad for Tex, but it’s one of those things, it just seems like it’s unavoidable,” Torre said. “You never want to wish a thing like this upon any player, especially here in spring training.”
Hosmer was packing up his bags on Wednesday morning at the Royals’ spring training complex, and planned to meet up with the U.S. team later in the day.
The Americans play their final tuneup against the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday night in Scottsdale, Ariz. They open Pool D play Friday night against Mexico in Phoenix.
“I don’t know what the situation is or what my role is going to be,” Hosmer said, “but I’ll get over there and find out. I’m excited to get started.”
Torre refused to speculate Tuesday on who might replace Teixeira, though Hosmer makes sense.
Not only is he already at camp in Arizona — rather than having someone fly into town from a camp in Florida — but he is also a left-handed hitting first baseman. The U.S. team has lineup loaded with right-handers, and Torre said he would try to find someone to provide balance.
Hosmer had a sensational rookie season in 2011, hitting .293 with 19 homers and 78 RBIs in 128 games. But he endured a maddening sophomore slump a year ago, his average plummeting to .232 with 14 homers and 60 RBIs in his first full season in the big leagues.
He worked with his brother in the offseason on his swing, and the changes appear to have helped. He’s 9 for 23 with a homer and eight RBIs in nine spring training games.
“Hopefully I can carry that over, absolutely,” Hosmer said.
Royals general manager Dayton Moore said it was an honor for Hosmer to be called up by the U.S. team to play in the tournament. He’ll be joining left-hander Tim Collins on the roster.
“I found out late last night what the situation was, and we wondered what they’d do,” Moore told the AP. “I think it’s great to be able to get that honor, and I think he’ll represent Team USA, and I think it’s a good thing.”
It won’t be the first time that Hosmer has represented his country.
Hosmer was one of six Royals farmhands who played in qualifying games for the 2010 Pan American Games tournament. He hit .389 with a homer and seven RBIs in the competition.
Hosmer said one of the biggest reasons he was eager to catch up with the U.S. team was so he could play for Torre, an MLB executive vice president. Hosmer remembers watching the Yankees under Torre while he was growing up.
“When it comes to managing in baseball, that’s one of the first names you think of,” Hosmer said. “It’ll be a pretty fun experience with the amount of talent.”