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ONTO -- Royals right-hander Luke Hochevar had to leave Thursday night's 9-6 victory over the Blue Jays with a sprained right ankle but believes he'll be fine.
"If I had another start to make before the All-Star break, I wouldn't see myself missing it," Hochevar said. "It's stiff and it's tender, and it bothers me to push off the rubber, but I think it'll be fine."
As it happens, he won't have to pitch until after the break, which is over in eight days.
First baseman Eric Hosmer booted Colby Rasmus' grounder with two outs in the fifth inning, prompting Hochevar to accelerate rapidly to cover first base. As he and Rasmus hit the bag, Hochevar rolled his ankle.
"It's not bad," Hochevar said. "When I was covering first, I thought Hosmer caught the ball, so I kind of let up a little bit. Then I saw it took a funky hop and skipped out of his glove, so then I tried to put on the afterburners and try to get there. When I caught it, I just lunged for the bag and hit the bag on the inside and rolled it in."
After talking to head athletic trainer Nick Kenney and manager Ned Yost, Hochevar made a couple of practice tosses and stayed in the game. He ended the inning with a strikeout of Jose Bautista, but didn't come out for the sixth inning, leaving a 5-2 lead in the hands of the bullpen.
"I didn't like the look on his face. When he came back in, he lobbied to go back in the sixth, but I wasn't going to do that," Yost said.
Yost didn't want to risk further injury to Hochevar, who has won three of his last four starts.
"He's not slated to start until after the All-Star break. We've got plenty of time, it's not serious," Yost said. "[But] it was hurting him a little bit and I'm not going to take a chance if your ankle's hurting, because that affects your shoulder, it affects your elbow and it's not anything that I want to play with."
Hosmer, who rarely misplays a ground ball, thought the ball might have hit a seam in the Rogers Centre AstroTurf.
"It took a weird hop and hit me right off the chest," Hosmer said. "I tried to get it to Hoch as soon as possible, but that ball's got to be caught, there's no excuse for that for me."
Hochevar had paused momentarily in his route to first base, because he figured Hosmer had caught the ball and would tag the bag.
"He needs to assume I'm not a good first baseman and get over there," Hosmer said, smiling.