ANAHEIM -- Warm, fuzzy truth. Royals boy wonder Eric Hosmer will be experiencing his first Opening Day, nice folks will compare him with Albert Pujols, and his mother will be in the stands.
"It's going to be my first Opening Day and I'm just looking forward to it. The Angels are a great ball team and I think it's going to be a good test for this team to see where we're at this early in the season," Hosmer said. "I'm looking forward to it. My mom's going to be there, so it's going to be a pretty cool trip."
Cold, hard truth. Salvador Perez, the Royals' prodigy catcher, will be in Kansas City with his knee in a brace, missing Opening Day and watching it on TV. His mom won't be around.
"My worst nightmare coming into Spring Training was that something would happen to Sal. And it did," manager Ned Yost said. "I'd have never dreamed that. But it did and now we move on."
The 22-year-old Hosmer, on fire in Spring Training, can be expected to put nitro into the Royals from his third spot in the lineup from the get-go, specifically Friday's 9:05 p.m. CT season liftoff against Los Angeles at Angel Stadium.
Perez's loss as a masked marvel who, despite being just 21, was considered a master at calling games and defending his turf behind the plate was a bitter blow. He probably won't be back until midseason. The pain was doubled when closer Joakim Soria was lost for the year to Tommy John surgery.
"It's not easy, but it's such a long season that every team is going to have ups and downs over the course of the year," Yost said. "There could be a team that's going be 20 games up in the standings and they're going to go through a struggle. You just have to be able to manage it. I wish it wasn't true, I wish it was a fairytale and we could just skip on through the season."
It all begins this season against a powerful Angels club that has brought Pujols to the American League from St. Louis and pitcher C.J. Wilson over from Texas, the team L.A. aims to supplant as best in the West. Fortunately for the Royals, they won't have to face Wilson, who has been poison to them over the years, in the opening three-game series.
But Pujols, ugh. In his days with the Cardinals, his old hometown team was among his favorite targets. In 51 Interleague games, he raked KC pitchers for a .379 (75-for-198) average, with 16 homers, 16 doubles and 53 RBIs.
When the Royals met on Thursday afternoon before their workout in Anaheim, their discussions did not linger too long on big, bad Albert.
"This is one of the most potent offenses in the American League, so you better not stay focused on one guy," Yost said. "So in that respect, we try to treat 'em all like Albert Pujols, because they're that good of an offensive team. So we lump 'em all together. On a lesser team, yeah, we'd focus on Albert Pujols. But their lineup is very solid, very potent."
That lineup includes designated hitter Kendrys Morales, back swinging a bat but not playing first base nearly 23 months after he broke his ankle in a home-plate celebration after a walkoff, grand-slam home run. In his one full season with the Angels, 2009, he had 34 homers, 108 RBIs and a .306 average.
Pujols' arrival not only emptied the vault, but moved rookie sensation Mark Trumbo, who whacked 29 home runs with 87 RBIs in 2011, over to third base, where he figures to share time with ex-Royal Alberto Callaspo. Then, there are a couple of hard-hitting outfielders, Torii Hunter and Vernon Wells, who used to torment the Royals in their days with the Twins and Blue Jays, respectively. Hunter, in fact, has more home runs (30) and RBIs (101) against the Royals than any other opponent in his career. And who can count all the hit-stealing catches?
The Angels' starting pitching is so formidable that Wilson is in the fourth spot behind Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana -- the three pitchers the Royals will face.
If there's a weak link in the Royals' outlook this year, most fingers seem to point toward their rotation, which is currently Bruce Chen, Luke Hochevar and Jonathan Sanchez -- the three starters against the Angels -- along with Luis Mendoza and Danny Duffy. Felipe Paulino is on the disabled list at the moment.
Yost takes issue with the doubters.
"I think we're going to surprise those people," Yost said. "Again, that's just one man's opinion. I think our rotation is going to be a lot better than any rotation we've had here in a long time."
So with a packed house and L.A. fans in a frenzy about the improved Angels' chances, it will be Opening Day or, more correctly, Opening Night. But it's just the first of 162 games, and the Royals' Alex Gordon cautions against putting too much significance into it.
"Last year, we lost to the Angels on Opening Day and people were asking all these questions, and we ended up winning the next three games against them," Gordon said. "So it's just one game. There's a lot of hype in the first game because everybody's expecting a lot of you. It's the start of the year and no one knows what to expect, so Opening Day is definitely almost overrated. We hope we can go out there and get a win and start the season right. But if we don't, we'll rebound and recover for the next game."
But the first one will be an event.
"It's going to be a live party, for sure," Hosmer said.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.