KANSAS CITY — Eric Hosmer left the Kansas City Royals after the 2017 season, taking an eight-year deal with the San Diego Padres worth $144 million.
He returned to Kauffman Stadium for the first time since that decision on Thursday night and there were no hard feelings.
The Royals welcomed Hosmer with a pre-game video tribute. As the crowd cheered, he popped out of the dugout and tipped his cap. There was another ovation when he came to bat in the first inning.
“It feels great to be back,” said Hosmer, who was traded to the Red Sox on Tuesday and joined the team Wednesday night. “It felt like I was traveling in a time machine back about 10 years just landing in the city and seeing some familiar faces.”
Hosmer played for the Royals from 2011-17. Kansas City lost 91 games his rookie year then won American League pennants in 2014 and ‘15.
The Royals won the World Series in ‘15 as Hosmer drove in six runs in five games against the Mets. His daring break from third base to the plate to tie Game 5 in the ninth inning is a prominent part of franchise lore.
“We have a great bond,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. “We all have a wonderful connection with Eric and we’re all appreciative of who he is.”
Hosmer had a modest .737 OPS over five seasons with the Padres and was seen as a bust. He believes the move to the Red Sox could be revitalizing.
“I’m excited for that,” he said. “[Fenway Park] is a stadium I’ve always enjoyed playing in. As a hitter when I’m going good, I tend to go to the opposite field so they will give me more incentive.”
The Padres tried to trade Hosmer to the Nationals but he refused the deal, as was his contractual right. San Diego pivoted to the Red Sox, who were not on his no-trade list.
The Sox sent Triple A lefthander Jay Groome to the Padres to make the deal. San Diego included two prospects in the deal.
Hosmer, who was given No. 35, is signed through 2025 for $44 million. San Diego is responsible for all but the major league minimum.
“I’m happy to be here in Boston,” said Hosmer, who had interest in the Sox as a free agent in 2017. “Things worked out the way they did and I’m excited about it.”
Hosmer is married to former NESN anchor Kacie McDonnell. They’re expecting their first child in September.
Matt Barnes was activated off the injured list after missing 56 games with what the team said was shoulder inflammation.
The righthander, who had a 7.94 earned run average and 1.71 WHIP in 20 appearances before being shelved, is confident he can help the team.
“Super excited to be back,” said Barnes, who threw a scoreless sixth inning against the Royals. “The last few [minor league] games I pitched, I felt really good. Ball was coming out good; command was sharp.”
Barnes, who has struggled for a calendar year, felt the time off also served as a reset mentally.
“It’s been a grind. But finally I feel like it’s coming together,” he said.
Kiké Hernández, who hasn’t played a major league game since June 7 because of a strained right hip flexor, is starting to make progress.
He took 35 swings of soft toss on Thursday and is scheduled to take batting practice at Boston College on Friday. It was Hernández’s most extensive work since receiving a PRP injection on July 15.
“He’s going to be part of this at one point this month,” manager Alex Cora said.
Why BC? Mötley Crüe is playing at Fenway Park.
Wacha, WooSox sharp
Michael Wacha (4⅔ innings) and two relievers, Andrew Politi (2⅓ IP) and Chase Shugart (2 IP), combined to no-hit Durham in a 12-0 victory for Triple A Worcester. Wacha struck out eight with one walk and threw 43 of 63 pitches for strikes. His fastball was 93-95 miles per hour. Wacha, who has been on the injured list since July 5 with shoulder inflammation, appears ready to return … Rookie righthander Brayan Bello went on the injured list with a left groin strain suffered in the first inning of his relief appearance at Houston on Wednesday. “Hopefully something that is not going to take too long,” Cora said. Bello said that type of injury was a first for him … Josh Winckowski will start on Friday night with Nate Eovaldi and Kutter Crawford to follow in the series … The roster moves on Thursday also included recalling lefthander Darwinzon Hernandez from Worcester and optioning Kaleb Ort to the Woo Sox. Ort pitched three innings of relief on Wednesday … The MLB Players Alumni Association selected Rafael Devers as the Red Sox candidate for its Heart and Hustle Award. The winner will be announced in November … The Royals made a roster move before the game, promoting outfielder Nate Eaton from Triple A Omaha and optioning infielder Maikel Garcia.