Yost hoping Royals add more arms at Meetings
Manager confident right-hander Hochevar will bounce back in 2013
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- If the Royals fall short in their quest to add another starting pitcher, manager Ned Yost believes the answer might already be in hand.
Namely in right-hander Luke Hochevar.
Yost, chatting with reporters at the annual Winter Meetings, is hoping that the Royals can pull in another starter (or two).
"Yes, starting pitching -- you can't have enough of it -- I would like to have as much of it as I could get. But at what cost? I think that's important to me," Yost said.
"I think that Bruce Chen has been phenomenal for us -- he's won 35, 36 games in the last three years for us and I think he'll continue to do that. And I look for Luke Hochevar to bounce back, I really do. I feel Luke's got great stuff and I feel good every time he steps on the mound. The optimist in me says he's going to have a great year."
Chen has led the Royals' staff in victories for the last three years with 12, 12 and 11 wins so he's proven to be solid. Hochevar, however, has been intriguingly dominating at times but, more often, has been exasperatingly disappointing.
So Yost was asked why he held such high hopes for Hochevar.
"One, he's got great stuff; two, he's a great competitor; three, he's not afraid," Yost said.
Yost admitted that Hochevar's lack of consistent success has puzzled him more than any other player in his experience.
"All the intangibles are there to have success, he just hasn't had it and I think, in the blink of an eye, it can turn around for him," Yost said.
Yost believes adding Ervin Santana to the staff and retaining Jeremy Guthrie after a half season will be a plus for Hochevar.
"With the addition of Santana, the addition of Guthrie from the beginning, I think it's really going to help him," Yost said.
Yost touched on other topics as well, including his desire to have the Royals pound more home runs than in the past.
"Our philosophy last year a little bit was more the middle, the opposite way. I want to start opening it up a little bit. I want to start pulling the ball a little bit more," Yost said.
He'd risk more strikeouts in exchange for more power.
"I'd rather start taking some good swipes at the ball and trying to put the ball in the stands because I think we've got guys that can do it," Yost said. "I think Salvador Perez can hit 20 to 25 home runs. I think [Eric] Hosmer, [Mike] Moustakas, [Alex] Gordon can hit 30. I think [Lorenzo] Cain can hit 20. I think eventually Wil Myers can hit 30 home runs. Billy Butler, I think, can hit 40 home runs. He's got that kind of pop."
Granted, the vast dimensions of Kauffman are daunting and Butler's 29 homers were last season's high.
"It's a big ballpark and it works against us, but we've got guys that can do it. So I think it works for us because it helps our pitchers. Both teams play in it," Yost said. "I think we're capable of hitting home runs in that park. Yeah, you're not going to get as many as if you were in Camden Yards or some of the smaller fields that are exciting, but it plays to our advantage in terms of our pitching and defense, too, so it works both ways."
Yost was asked if a resurgence by Hosmer, who slumped last season after a robust rookie year, could be as simple as getting a fresh start in 2013.
"Yeah, it really is, and getting back to working with Jack Maloof, who he worked with his whole Minor League career," Yost replied. "Jack and Andre David, our two new hitting coaches, have been with these kids from the minute that they signed, so Jack knows him inside and out, knows what makes him tick. When something goes wrong, he knows what it is and he knows how to fix it. So [Hosmer] and Jack are working already, and I think by the time Spring Training comes around we're going to see a pretty dynamic Eric Hosmer."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.