With the stress fracture in Eric Hosmer’s finger keeping him out for 3-6 weeks, the Kansas City Royals will most likely look to increase the role of Raul Ibanez. Billy Butler will slide over from designated hitter to be the Royals’ everyday first baseman, which will open up the DH spot for Ibanez.
This plan worked pretty well for day one of Hosmer’s absence. Ibanez fifth-inning home run against the Oakland Athletics on Friday night was the only run scored in the Royals’ 1-0 victory. Kansas City is in the thick of the playoff hunt, and the team needs the 42-year-old to prove he’s still got it.
Friday night’s win kept the Royals within four games of the AL Central leading Detroit Tigers, and put them just 2.5 games behind the Toronto Blue Jays for the last Wild Card spot. Ibanez could help the Royals with their biggest need in his increased role.
Kansas City is last in the majors with 61 home runs, and Ibanez hit 29 last season with the Seattle Mariners. The problem is he’s had serious trouble reaching base this year. He’s hitting .217 since joining the Royals and .170 overall in 2014. He’ll have to raise those numbers if he wants to stay in the lineup.
If he can do that, or at least lift his .256 OBP on the year, Ibanez could be exactly what the Royals need. He definitely was on Friday night, though Jeremy Guthrie and the bullpen probably deserve a large share of the credit as well.