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Hammel hopes change in routine leads to big '18

MLB.com @FlannyMLB

KANSAS CITY -- Royals right-hander Jason Hammel looks back at his 2017 performance with a sense of frustration, as well as a commitment to change.

Hammel, appearing at the team's Fan Fest in downtown Kansas City, said he took a little bit longer this offseason to rest his arm. That's only natural, he said, at age 35.

KANSAS CITY -- Royals right-hander Jason Hammel looks back at his 2017 performance with a sense of frustration, as well as a commitment to change.

Hammel, appearing at the team's Fan Fest in downtown Kansas City, said he took a little bit longer this offseason to rest his arm. That's only natural, he said, at age 35.

He also changed his diet.

"I've become a pescatarian," Hammel said on Friday. "That's basically a vegetarian who eats fish. I know, I had to look it up, too."

Hammel began his new diet after discussion with a family member.

"Basically, it was a New Year's resolution," he said. "But I feel strong. I feel healthy.

"[I'm] just trying to extend [the life in] these limbs. I still miss a steak now and then, a Subway sandwich. We'll see how it goes in Spring Training."

The veteran right-hander would love to extend his good moments from 2017, as well.

The final numbers from last season, Hammel's first with the Royals, don't look appealing: 8-13, 5.29 ERA, 1.425 WHIP. But there were stretches when he was on top of his game. After making an adjustment to his setup position (squaring his shoulders to the plate) in late May, he flourished in June -- posting a 2.51 ERA in five starts.

Video: HOU@KC: Hammel allows one run over seven frames

Later, in mid-July and August, he posted six quality starts in 12 tries and gave up three runs or fewer in nine starts. He walked just 14 batters in 73 innings during that stretch.

"He's keeping us in games," manager Ned Yost said at the time. "That's all we want."

But Hammel struggled at times in September, giving up 19 runs in 12 2/3 innings over a three-start span. The team faded, as well.

"[We] still have that bad taste in our mouth from last year," Hammel said. "As a team, we fought our way back and didn't make it [to the postseason]."

Hammel vows 2018 will be better for him. He also cautions critics to not assume the Royals will flounder during their rebuilding effort.

"Put a uniform on me, and I'm going to play hard," Hammel said. "And I'm not really worried about [the critics]. We've got the warriors to battle with. It's just a matter of showing up to win."

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

Kansas City Royals, Jason Hammel