LOS ANGELES — Rhys Hoskins put his fingers into his mouth Monday night and checked to make sure his teeth were still intact after a 95-mph fastball hit his bat and then smashed his face.
His teeth were there. He was conscious. This could be a lot worse, Hoskins thought as he walked off the field with a towel pressed against the dime-sized cut that opened on his lower lip. He was out of Tuesday night's lineup against the Dodgers, but it does not seem that Hoskins will miss much time.
"I'm feeling pretty lucky," Hoskins said before Tuesday's game, his face swollen. "Your mouth tends to heal a lot faster, so I guess it's just time and Neosporin."
Monday's night scare was the latest challenge for Hoskins in a difficult month. He is batting .134 with a .234 on-base percentage in 97 at-bats since April 27. He has just two homers in his last 31 games. Hoskins was even charged with a strikeout Monday after he exited the game and Pedro Florimon swung at strike three after inheriting Hoskins' two-strike count.
"I think I'd be lying to you if I said it wasn't tough, but it's part of the game," Hoskins said. "I think the biggest thing I'm taking from it is when I do get out of it, I know that in the future when it happens again — because it's going to happen again — that I'm going to be able to get out of it. It's just one of those things that you're just going to have to ride out. Unfortunately it's been a lot longer than I would hope for, but it's part of the game."
Hoskins' struggles have seemed to coincide with manager Gabe Kapler's movement of Hoskins from the lineup's fourth spot to the second. Hoskins had a .985 OPS in April when he batted almost exclusively from the fourth spot. Kapler then flipped Hoskins and Carlos Santana in May and Santana's season picked up as Hoskins' dipped. Hoskins said his lineup spot doesn't matter.
"I think the only time it matters is the first inning," Hoskins said. "I've still come up with guys in scoring position, which is all I can ask for, so it's just a lot of the same."
Hoskins will be evaluated again Wednesday by the Dodgers' team doctor. He will wear a face shield when he returns, to be safe. Hoskins could be out of the lineup for a few more days, perhaps presenting the chance for him to take a mental break from his difficult month as the calendar turns to June.