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Naturals' Fletcher returns with authority06/06/2013 7:29 PM ET
By Robert Emrich / Special to MLB.com
Brian Fletcher made up for lost time on Thursday night in a big way.
The Royals' No. 17 prospect homered twice and drove in four runs as Northwest Arkansas defeated Tulsa, 10-4.
In Fletcher's first at-bat since April 8, the right-handed hitter hit a two-run homer to right field. After grounding out in the third inning, he opened the fifth with a solo homer. The Georgia native added an RBI double in the eighth.
"Everything went well," Fletcher said. "Right before I came here, I played a few games in Arizona [to] see some live pitching and get some rhythm back. It felt good, first at-bat, able to get that one out to right."
Fletcher went on the disabled list after breaking his hamate bone on April 8. Prior to the injury, he was batting .158 in five games, but had homered in two of the last three games he played in. With the amount of time missed, players sometimes come back with a rusty swing, but it wasn't the case for Fletcher.
"It's one of those things when you take time off you don't see live pitching for a while and it kind of throws your timing off," the 24-year-old outfielder said. "Hitting in the cage, you're feeling good but going into the game is completely different.
"If anything I was trying to keep it simple tonight, just trying to see some pitches and just being ready. Hopefully, it will carry over in the next few games here."
After enjoying a strong 2012 in which he batted .272 with 15 homers in 132 Minor League games and played in the Arizona Fall League's Rising Stars Game, missing two months of the season was a tough pill to swallow.
"I was trying to get back as soon as possible, but you got to get it full strength before you even start taking some live swings," said the son of former Major League infielder Scott Fletcher. "It set me back about a month-and-a-half. I was in Arizona rehabbing, I could feel it getting better and better.
"It was missed time and it was frustrating, but at the same time, you have to take it and embrace it. I was able to come back out here and move forward."
Rey Navarro was 3-for-4 with two RBIs and Mitch Canham scored twice for the Naturals.
Kent Matthes hit a two-run homer for the Drillers.