At the front of the clubhouse here, a row of locker stalls that once belonged to stars has been re-assigned to younger players. This is where Eric Hosmer made his home each spring, not far from the lockers of Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain, just around the corner from the front doorway. On Wednesday morning, as Royals pitchers and catchers prepared for their first day of spring camp, catcher Salvador Perez stood in a corner of the clubhouse and gazed over at the empty wall. “I knew these guys when I was 16 years old, 17 years old,” he said. “It’s different.” The reality could not be ignored as the Royals organization gathered here for the start of another spring. The clubhouse turnover is evident. Young faces dot the room. Yet players and coaches are not quite ready to turn the page. Hosmer is not here, of course, a glaring absence after a decade-long marriage that produced a World Series championship and a baseball renaissance in Kansas City. But among club officials and old teammates, there remains hope that he will be. “Of course, I want him back,” Royals manager Ned Yost said, addressing reporters for the first time on Wednesday. “That goes without saying. But there’s certain aspects of this game that I can’t control.” Hosmer is still at home, still a free agent after a long and slow winter. The Royals are still in pursuit, still engaged in conversations with his representatives as spring camps begin in Arizona and Florida. The only other public suitor remains the San Diego Padres, who reportedly resumed discussions in the last week. The process has now dragged past the offseason and into a new year. The Padres front office is said to have “fallen in love” with Hosmer, according to a report this week from the San Diego Union-Tribune. The Royals’ own adoration for Hosmer is well documented.