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Royals honor family, roots with special bats

Players Weekend in full swing with colorful gear
MLB.com @FlannyMLB

CLEVELAND -- Royals players sat around the visitors' clubhouse on Friday at Progressive Field, admiring their specially designed bats for Players Weekend.

In one corner, Alex Gordon checked out four bat models, one of which had his home state of Nebraska's flag carved near the trademark, along with the area code (402) of Lincoln, where he went to college.

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CLEVELAND -- Royals players sat around the visitors' clubhouse on Friday at Progressive Field, admiring their specially designed bats for Players Weekend.

In one corner, Alex Gordon checked out four bat models, one of which had his home state of Nebraska's flag carved near the trademark, along with the area code (402) of Lincoln, where he went to college.

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Royals Players Weekend gear available at MLBShop.com

"I didn't ask for these bats," Gordon said, "but I like them. They're really cool."

Gordon liked them afterward, too. In Friday's 4-0 loss to Cleveland, he had his first three-hit game since July 21.

Gordon wasn't alone in his admiration.

Royals Players Weekend nicknames explained

Nearby, Salvador Perez and Alcides Escobar were showing off their specialty bats, some of which featured the colors of the flag from their native Venezuela.

In another corner, Eric Hosmer showed off his bat's design, featuring the badge number (260) issued to his father, a former fireman. Hosmer also chose the red and black color scheme.

What you need to know for Players Weekend

"The black and red, it looks cool," Hosmer said. "I know all my dad's fire helmets are all pretty much red back home with a little bit of black in it, so I think it kind of reminds me of a fire helmet, seeing the color scheme like that."

Hosmer also had the names "Torito," "Mima" and "Epa" carved in the bat.

"Obviously, you guys all know I'm pretty tight with my family," Hosmer said. "This is all stuff I want to represent. I got my nickname, 'Torito,' which means little bull -- one of my nicknames my grandparents would always call me. A couple grandparents that passed away are on there, 'Mima' and 'Epa' -- nicknames I have for them on there. Pretty cool to be able to play with this stuff for a weekend and get to tribute family members or whatever each player's choice is.

"'Mima' is my grandmother on my mom's side. That was the nickname we had for her. 'Epa' is [my grandmother] on my father's side."

Hosmer said he definitely will use the specialty bats and cleats in game action.

"The cleats are pretty much the same thing [as the bats' design]," Hosmer said. "It has my dad's fire station, Station Nine. Liberty City, [N.Y.], was the city he worked in. A couple of different things to tribute. Pops' workplace, all his work ties and family."

Not every Royals player will use the specialty bats in action. Lorenzo Cain has been using teammate Whit Merrifield's bats since Cain got six hits in a doubleheader Aug. 6.

"I've been getting hits with Whit's bats," Cain said. "I'm not going to change. Now if Whit's bats come up empty ... ."

But most of the Royals were eager to try out their new lumber.

"They should do this for the bats every weekend," Gordon said. "The guys like this a lot."

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

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