SURPRISE, Ariz. -- First baseman Eric Hosmer came into the Royals' clubhouse on Wednesday morning and started packing up his equipment. But he's not going far.
Hosmer was selected to join Team USA for the World Baseball Classic, replacing injured Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira.
|Bracket | Full scoreboard|
"It's a great opportunity. Any chance you get to represent your country, you're obviously going to jump at the opportunity, so I'm very excited," Hosmer said.
Hosmer's chance came after Teixeira strained his right forearm on Tuesday at a Team USA workout at Glendale, while taking light swings off a tee. X-rays were negative, but he went to New York for a further examination.
"I don't know what the situation is or what my role is going to be, but I'm going to get over there today and find out," Hosmer said. "I'm excited to get started."
His role is likely to be playing a lot of first base because Teixeira was the only pure first baseman on the squad. Joe Mauer, Ben Zobrist and Willie Bloomquist are other USA players with experience at first.
Hosmer was to join Team USA and manager Joe Torre on Wednesday night for an exhibition against the Rockies at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, where, incidentally, the Royals were playing on Wednesday afternoon against the D-backs. The United States will meet Mexico on Friday night at Chase Field in Phoenix in a game that can be watched live on MLB Network and ESPN Deportes at 7 p.m. CT/9 p.m. ET.
A left-handed hitter, Hosmer was leading the unbeaten Royals with eight RBIs in nine games and had a .391 (9-for-23) average with two doubles, one triple and one home run.
Hosmer was contacted on Tuesday night as Classic officials were getting permission from Royals general manager Dayton Moore.
"I got a call from Tony Clark from the [MLB] Players Association and he asked if I was interested in doing it, and I told him, 'Yeah, absolutely,'" Hosmer said. "And then [U.S. manager] Joe [Torre] called me about five minutes later. I guess he was trying to get a hold of Dayton last night and make sure it was OK for me to play, and everything was good to go after that."
Hosmer will join Royals teammate Tim Collins, a left-handed reliever, on Team USA. He and Collins were among six Royals farmhands who played on the USA team in the 2010 Pan American Qualifying Tournament.
"I've played with a couple of USA teams before and it's always a fun experience, and I'm ready to see what this is all about," Hosmer said.
He's especially looking forward to playing for Torre.
"Absolutely," Hosmer said. "When it comes to managing in baseball, that's one of the first names you think of, so it'll be a pretty fun experience with the amount of talent and coaches that they have on this team."
Hosmer is among nine from the Royals' organization on a Classic roster. Others are pitchers Collins, Luis Mendoza (Mexico), Kelvin Herrera and Atahualpa Severino (Dominican Republic); catcher Salvador Perez (Venezuela); infielders Miguel Tejada (Dominican) and Irving Falu (Puerto Rico), and outfielder Paulo Orlando (Brazil).
"I'm happy for him," manager Ned Yost said. "It's good for him, it's good for our organization and I'm pleased he's going. He's playing extremely well and I think he'd be a great addition to the USA team."
Yost believes the experience will be a plus for Hosmer.
"Regular spring games don't mean a dadgummed thing but ... they're playing in a tournament that means something," Yost said. "It's great playing with stars from different organizations; there's a lot you can learn in those types of situations and it's a very competitive tournament that is going to be watched by a lot of people.
"And it's to be played to win, so there are a lot of benefits to be playing in it for a guy like Hoz, for a guy like Timmy Collins, Herrera, all these kids. It's a great experience."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.