NATIONAL Royals, key players looking for bounce-back season in 2017
March 28, 2017 By FOXSports.com (via AP)
http://www.foxsports.com/mlb/story/royals-key-players-looking-for-bounce-back-season-in-2017-032817 MLB TRANSACTIONS
March 29, 2017 •.CBSSports.com http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/transactions LOCAL Royals ride trio of home runs; Karns K's 7
March 28, 2017 By Jeffrey Flanagan & Scott Merkin/MLB.com
http://m.royals.mlb.com/news/article/221300360/royals-ride-trio-of-hrs-vs-white-sox/ The Royals' recent home run barrage continued on Tuesday, as they clubbed three more homers in a 7-4 win over the White Sox at Surprise Stadium.
The Royals hit four home runs on Monday in a win over the A's.
On Tuesday, Royals leadoff hitter Alex Gordon belted a home run that cleared the complex and landed in the street. The in-house projection system measured it at 481 feet.
Cheslor Cuthbert and Brandon Moss also delivered home runs.
"Moss is just crushing the ball right now," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "And Gordo, you don't see many balls hit that far."
White Sox starter Chris Volstad, a Minor Leaguer, lasted 3 2/3 innings, giving up six hits and four runs.
New White Sox center fielder Jacob May collected two hits.
Royals starter Nathan Karns, the No. 5 starter, went six innings in his final Cactus League start, giving up five hits and one run. Karns walked one and struck out seven.
Karns has struck out 16 in his last 12 innings.
"I worked on my changeup more today," Karns said. "My curveball wasn't there. But it was good to get stretched out the last two times and I'll have a little tuneup on Saturday in Arlington and then be ready for the regular season."
White Sox Up Next: The final 2017 Cactus League game for the White Sox takes place Wednesday afternoon at Camelback Ranch, with the Padres visiting for a 2:05 p.m. CT first pitch on MLB.TV. Dylan Covey and Anthony Swarzak, who both figure to break camp with the team, pitch on Wednesday. One of them will take Carlos Rodon's fifth starter slot at the season's outset, or it could be a combination of the two.
Royals Up Next: Left-hander Danny Duffy makes his final Cactus League start on Wednesday in preparation for Monday's Opening Day start against the Twins. Duffy and the Royals will take on the Rangers in a 2:05 p.m. CT start at Surprise Stadium, in a game available on Gameday Audio. The Royals then have an off-day Thursday.
Colon loses bid to start, aims for reserve role
Second baseman will compete with Merrifield to back up Mondesi
March 28, 2017 By Jeffrey Flanagan/MLB.com
http://m.royals.mlb.com/news/article/221257272/royals-christian-colon-loses-bid-to-be-starter/ It is hard for Royals infielder Christian Colon to hide the disappointment.
Colon worked hard in the offseason, training with Alex Gordon in Kansas City, hoping it would lead to him earning a starting job at second base.
That won't happen after manager Ned Yost named Raul Mondesi the starter on Monday.
"It's disappointing," Colon said. "You just have to move on. I've been here before and I need to just be ready to do whatever they ask me to do and be part of the 25-man roster hopefully."
That is the next phase of the decision-making process. With Cheslor Cuthbert already likely on the team as the primary backup to third baseman Mike Moustakas, Colon is now in a battle with Whit Merrifield for a spot on the 25-man roster.
Colon, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2010 Draft, has one advantage: He does not have options, while Merrifield does.
Then again, there are other factors, such as the fact that the Royals may need to clear space on the 40-man roster to make room for right-hander Peter Moylan if he is the final bullpen arm. That could lead to someone getting traded or designated for assignment.
The Royals aren't likely to make a final decision on the 25-man roster until Sunday.
"I'm preparing myself for anything," Colon said. "I know I can be an everyday player. If it's not here it can be somewhere else. But I want to be here. This is the only organization I've known.
"I understand it's tough. These are tough decisions and they have to take the best 25 to Kansas City. It's about winning."
Colon was convinced coming into camp he could be that everyday second baseman.
"You feel like you did enough to get a shot at it," Colon said. "But Mondi came out and played great and you have to respect that."
Duffy partners with shelter to get out the vote
Left-hander lending support to KC Pet Project for budget referendum
March 28, 2017 By Jeffrey Flanagan/MLB.com
http://m.royals.mlb.com/news/article/221265582/royals-danny-duffy-helping-kc-pet-project/ If there is one thing that Royals left-hander Danny Duffy is as passionate about as baseball, it is his love of animals.
That's why Duffy has so enthusiastically supported KC Pet Project, a nonprofit charitable organization that takes in thousands of pets a year and is one of the largest no-kill animal shelters in the country.
But, as Duffy points out, the KC Pet Project facility, which is located near Kauffman Stadium, is woefully inadequate for its needs. So Duffy has jumped on board to get behind a crucial vote in Kansas City on April 4 that would provide finances to build a new KC Pet Project facility.
"I've done a couple of promotional videos for it," Duffy said. "I'm passionate about whatever they're passionate about, whether it's dogs, cats, animals of all species. They genuinely care."
Duffy visits the facility often and knows first-hand that it desperately needs to be replaced. Question 3 on the ballot for April 4 is a bond initiative that would provide funding for a new building -- the present facility is over 45 years old and originally was designed as a construction shed for equipment to build Arrowhead Stadium, the home of the Kansas City Chiefs.
"That's the thing," Duffy said. "They do such a good job that every dog is still wagging its tail over there. But they could use a new facility big time.
"I know they're one of the largest [no-kill shelters]. They do whatever it takes to mend animals no matter what condition they show up in, and they have an incredible adoption rate. They've got my support 100 percent.
"I don't see why [the vote] wouldn't pass. I don't see why people wouldn't want to help out man's best friend."
Duffy, who has had a love-hate relationship with Twitter over the years and has dumped his account several times, is back on Twitter (@Duff805) for one reason: To support the Kansas City community in helpful movements such as the KC Pet Project vote.
"Nothing really gets to me anymore in terms of trollers on Twitter," Duffy said. "It's a good opportunity for me to use the platform for good. It would be irresponsible for me not to."
Duffy presently has an Alaskan Malamute named Sadie. But he's been an animal lover all his life.
"My house growing up was literally like a zoo," Duffy said. "We had cats, dogs, rabbits, birds, you name it. Always loved animals."
http://m.royals.mlb.com/news/article/221293402/can-royals-raul-mondesi-make-the-leap/ Spring Training is winding down and it's a good time to take your questions on how this 2017 Royals squad is shaping up.
Here we go:
@RoyalsCollector: with the possibility of Hosmer, Moustakas, Cain and Esky leaving. How much pressure is on Raul Mondesi to be the next big thing?
The best-case scenario for the Royals is to find out in 2017 if Mondesi can hit at the big league level, especially because if shortstop Alcides Escobar leaves for free agency, Mondesi will be the Royals' shortstop for possibly years to come. To that end, the club has named Mondesi the starter at second base. He doesn't have to be a star, at least not now, though he certainly has the athleticism and the "wow" factor to become one.
@jhb2006: now that we know pretty much the makeup of the pen, Will Ned stick to 7th inning guy & a 8th inning guy before Kelvin? If so who?
Royals manager Ned Yost likely will do a little more mixing and matching in the late innings than he has in the past, at least until he sorts through his relievers. Left-hander Matt Strahm and right-hander Joakim Soria figure to set up closer Kelvin Herrera quite a bit, but Yost will not hesitate to use left-handers Mike Minor and Travis Wood in the seventh and eighth, either.
@BalboniWatchPod: Who are your pre-season #BalboniWatch favorites to break club's single season home run record?
Some day we may be talking about Jorge Soler breaking Steve Balboni's club record for homers in a season (36). Soler has that kind of raw power. But the thinking here is it will be tough in his first season, as he adjusts to a new league. I'll put out a name that perhaps few think of in terms of breaking the record: Mike Moustakas. Moose had seven homers last season by early May. If he keeps improving, he may have a whopper year.
@acsguy: do Royals start the year w/ colon, cheslor, whit all on roster? Isn't that waste of cuthbert? Any way one gets traded?
The only thing we know for sure is that Mondesi, Cheslor Cuthbert, Whit Merrifield and Christian Colon won't all be on the 25-man roster. Now that Mondesi has won the second base job, one of two things must happen: Either Merrifield, who has options, gets sent down, or Colon or Cuthbert (neither of whom has options) gets dealt or designated for assignment if no trade partner can be found.
@Scott_ZT: does O'Brien belong in AAA in April? The list of pitchers he's taken deep in spring is far from impressive #RoyalsInbox #DongTown
Peter O'Brien showed everyone in Royals camp what kind of power he has. There simply isn't an available roster spot for him, so there is logic to having him continue his development at Triple-A Omaha. And Yost said something interesting toward the end of camp: If the need did arise through injury or trade or whatever, Yost would not hesitate to use someone like O'Brien at the big league level. The Royals like O'Brien's future.
@paintingcorner: what's the organization's thoughts on Yender Caramo? He's had a really solid spring.
Yender Caramo was one of the big surprises in camp and as of this writing was still in the battle for the final bullpen spot. Yost and his staff love Caramo's heavy sinker and the fact that he throws strikes. Even if he doesn't make the team out of camp, there's a pretty good chance Royals fans will see him at the big league level at some point this season.
@raynadams: in your eyes, who has made the best adjustments to improve over last year?
Mondesi looks like a different hitter this year. He's more confident and he showed he has the pop to hit home runs and the finesse to lay down a perfect drag bunt. The other impressive young guy is outfielder Jorge Bonifacio, who just crushed the ball during spring. Bonifacio is just 23 and is on the brink of the big leagues -- now he just needs the opportunity.
@DylanOnDeck: cargos or khakis?
Do we even have to ask? Cargos.
Alex Gordon, Brandon Moss hit towering blasts in Royals’ 7-4 win over White Sox
March 28, 2017 By Rustin Dodd/KC Star
http://www.kansascity.com/sports/mlb/kansas-city-royals/article141345868.html The confines at Surprise Stadium are typical for a Cactus League venue. The dimensions are relatively large — 350 feet in the corners and 400 in dead center. The outfield walls are surrounded by a spacious grass berm, perfect for spectating, with a large white tent sitting above the hilly terrain in right field.
What is not typical here is a baseball clearing the grass berm and soaring over the stadium’s secondary white fence, which surrounds the property in right and left field. Well, it did not seem typical until Tuesday afternoon, when Alex Gordon and Brandon Moss took turns at the plate in a 7-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox.
Gordon clobbered a solo blast to right field in the bottom of the first inning that left the stadium premises. Moss delivered a towering shot in the fourth that cleared the pavilion tent and disappeared from view. Both homers came against White Sox right-hander Chris Volstad, who made the start while staff leader Jose Quintana pitched in a minor-league game.
Gordon’s homer, his second of the spring, left the bat at 113 mph and carried an estimated 481 feet through the dry desert air, according to the Royals’ in-stadium TrackMan system. Moss’s homer — his third in three games — didn’t even register, perhaps a glitch, perhaps a result of the long distance.
“Brandon Moss is on fire right now,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He crushed that ball.”
The solo homers provided support for starting pitcher Nathan Karns, who allowed one earned run in six innings in his final start before the regular season. Karns, who will make his regular-season debut April 9 in Houston, struck out seven and issued one walk while throwing 91 pitches.
In two starts since being chosen as the Royals’ fifth starter, Karns has allowed just one earned run in 12 innings while striking out 16, lowering his Cactus League ERA to 3.91.
“I’m just working in and out, commanding, really trying to challenge the hitters,” Karns said. “And I’m having positive results right now.”
In between the mammoth homers, third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert clubbed his second homer of the spring, a high drive that landed in the bullpen in left field.
“Kind of a long Arizona home run that just kept going and going,” Yost said.
The Royals piled on two more runs in the eighth after the White Sox cut the deficit to 5-3 by scoring twice against reliever Peter Moylan in the top half of the inning.
Kansas City improved to 17-13-1 in Cactus League play. The club will conclude the Arizona portion of its spring with a final game against the Texas Rangers at 2:05 p.m. Wednesday.
The team is set to fly to Dallas on Wednesday night. They will play exhibition games against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas, on Friday and Saturday.
Left-hander Travis Wood posted a scoreless inning in the seventh before Moylan ran into some trouble in the eighth inning.
Left-hander Eric Stout allowed a run in the top of the ninth.
Center fielder Lorenzo Cain was scratched for precautionary reasons after experiencing some tightness in his “left side” before the game. Gordon moved over to center field, Whit Merrifield started in right, and Moss moved from DH to left field.
Cain was listed as day to day, according to a Royals official. The ailment was not considered serious.
The young guys
Still battling for a roster spot, Christian Colon finished 2 for 4 with a double in the fourth inning. He also stole a base.
Terrance Gore scored two runs and drew a walk after replacing Moss as a pinch runner.
Royals still choosing between Christian Colon and Whit Merrifield for 25th man on roster
March 28, 2017 By Rustin Dodd/KC Star
http://www.kansascity.com/sports/mlb/kansas-city-royals/article141248303.html The battle for the 25th spot on the Royals roster is shaping up as a question of Whit Merrifield or Christian Colon, of versatility vs. inventory.
Merrifield, a 28-year-old utilityman, is perhaps the most versatile player in the organization, an athletic infielder who can also play all three outfield spots. Merrifield, however, has options remaining, meaning he can be sent to Class AAA Omaha without going through waivers. Christian Colon, a 27-year-old former first-round pick in 2010, does not have options left. If he is not on the 25-man roster, he must be placed on waivers and exposed to other teams.
Colon does not offer the same versatility as Merrifield. Yet he can play second base, third base and shortstop. He is also responsible for two of the most memorable postseason moments in franchise history. His inclusion would allow the Royals to move forward with both players at their disposal.
“Inventory,” Yost said of Colon, “and he’ll give you a great at-bat. He had one of the biggest at-bats.”
Yost was referencing Colon’s RBI single in Game 5 of the 2015 World Series. The decision could come down to the final days of camp.
The question became clear on Monday, when the Royals elected to move forward with Raul Mondesi as their starting second baseman. The club is also leaning toward keeping outfielder Terrance Gore, a late-game speed weapon who could fill the injured Jorge Soler’s spot on the 25-man roster. Gore, 25, is a one-dimensional player. Yet Yost believes that his speed could help the Royals win a game in April.
On Tuesday, Yost also hinted that Merrifield could be more valuable as a bench player if the Royals are forced to carry 13 pitchers. For now, they are set to open the season with 12 pitchers on their roster, including a seven-man bullpen.
“Everybody wants to break with the team,” Yost said. “But our plan going into this is to make adjustments whenever we need them. And it won’t be long.
“(Let’s) say if we option Whit out; probably the first time we need 13 pitchers, here comes Whit. Because we’re one man short on the bench and we need that versatility. I’m not saying one way or the other how this is going to end up, because quite frankly, we don’t know yet.”
The Royals reassigned catcher Brayan Peña to minor-league camp on Tuesday morning.
Peña, 35, was in spring training as a nonroster invitee. He previously played for the Royals from 2009 to 2012 and spent last season with the St. Louis Cardinals.
He was a long shot to make the roster, given the presence of Salvador Perez and backup Drew Butera. Peña could be headed for Class AAA Omaha, where he would offer depth in case of an injury at the big-league level.
The Royals have 29 players remaining in major-league camp, including reliever Brian Flynn, who is on the 60-day disabled list.
The only nonroster invitees remaining are relievers Peter Moylan and Seth Maness. Moylan is positioned to be seventh man in the Royals’ bullpen. Maness, a former reliever with the St. Louis Cardinals, is recovering from elbow surgery and is slated to make his first spring appearance this week. Maness signed a minor-league deal with the Royals in February and is three weeks behind the rest of the pitching staff, manager Ned Yost said.
Royals will wait to put outfielder Jorge Soler on the disabled list
March 28, 2017 By Rustin Dodd/KC Star
http://www.kansascity.com/sports/mlb/kansas-city-royals/article141228328.html Outfielder Jorge Soler appears headed for the 10-day disabled list as the Royals prepare to set their roster in advance of opening day Monday. The club, however, will not make a formal move before it must.
Soler, 25, sustained a grade 1 oblique strain in a minor-league game on Sunday afternoon. He will be shut down until he is pain free, Royals manager Ned Yost said Tuesday, a period that is expected to be five to seven days.
Yost, however, declined to confirm that Soler will begin the season on the disabled list, which has decreased from the traditional 15 days to 10 following a new collective-bargaining agreement in the offseason.
With the season still six days away, the Royals are under no pressure to put Soler on the disabled list. Under the rules of the new collective-bargaining agreement, they can also backdate the disabled-list stint to March 30, which would allow Soler to return to the 25-man roster April 9.
The Royals have not given a timetable for Soler’s recovery. But the rehab would figure to last much longer than 10 days. If Soler re-starts baseball activities next week, he would still require close to two weeks of rehab. He would also likely need at-bats in a rehab assignment, either in extended spring training or with a minor-league affiliate.
Last year, outfielder Jarrod Dyson suffered a grade 2 oblique strain in a Cactus League game on March 2. He did not make his season debut until nearly six weeks later on April 19.
Soler’s grade 1 strain is a milder version of the injury, and the recovery process could be shorter. He also has a history of oblique and other muscle strains, which could prompt the Royals to take a cautious approach.
Soler is entering his first season with the Royals after being acquired from the Chicago Cubs in an offseason trade for closer Wade Davis. He was poised to begin the season as the club’s starting right fielder. Paulo Orlando is now positioned to take most of that playing time. Orlando, 31, batted .302 with a .329 on-base percentage and five homers in 484 plate appearances last season.
Mellinger Minutes: Royals
March 28, 2017 By Sam Mellinger/KC Star
http://www.kansascity.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/sam-mellinger/article141212108.html @Garten87: do you feel like this is the deepest/best Royals rotation we've had in a long time?
Dayton Moore and others have been saying this consistently, and sure, looks good:
There could be another guy or two, most notably Matt Strahm, to help out at some point.
When Moore and others talk about the rotation depth, they are usually talking about the team that breaks camp, but the 2015 world champs had Edinson Volquez, Johnny Cueto, Danny Duffy, Yordano Ventura, the pre-Tommy John surgery version of Jason Vargas, and the good version of Chris Young start nine or more games for them.
That’s pretty good.
Some of the important stuff comes at the back. If you were to rank such things, I think this is as strong as you’d have felt in a long time about the Royals’ Nos. 5, 6, and 7 starters on opening day.
It’s a bonus, especially since the bullpen probably won’t be as good. But this group still needs a lot to go right, and I say that as someone who’s more optimistic than most.
Renee Wiebe-Hultgren: I just heard Mondesi was named the Royals starting 2nd baseman. Any idea on how the Royals are going to handle the Cuthbert, Colon, Merrifield dilemma? Will age play a factor? Whit is the only one that has options & I'd think the decision would be tough, especially with the other two.
I’m not surprised by a lot of personnel decisions the Royals make, but this one surprised me.
I know Mondesi has had a good spring, and he might be the best defender they have in the group. But he was so overmatched at the plate last year, and he’s still just 21, and letting him hit a little in Omaha could give him some confidence and provide the added benefit of potentially pushing his free agency back a year.
When spring training started, some within the organization viewed including Mondesi in the second base competition as a sort of courtesy. Put him in there, wait for him to fail, then boost his confidence in the minor leagues.
That never happened, because Mondesi has been good from the ump, but with others capable of holding the position down — it’s not like the Royals have to rely on him, especially early — I thought the job would go to someone else.
Whit Merrifield can be sent to the minor leagues without exposing him to waivers, and Christian Colon cannot. Particularly when we’re talking about a backup position, I’d expect that to be a heavy tiebreaker.
Cheslor Cuthbert appears on the good side of the roster bubble, and can back up three infield positions, so he’ll get some opportunities. Merrifield will probably be in the big leagues at some point, if for no other reason than for cover when injuries start to happen or guys need more days off.
Colon’s spot on the team is very interesting now. He may or may not be the Royals’ preferred backup second baseman, and he’s not the top backup at any other position, and he’s not as versatile as Merrifield.
If he couldn’t win the second base job now, here, with no options and an organization that wants to believe in him, you have to wonder when it will ever work with the Royals. He turns 28 in May, and has a career .666 OPS.
He may be the modern-day Dane Iorg.
@rpdroyals: If Soler starts on the DL, does Orlando really give the Royals a better chance to win over Bonifacio?(answer is no)
I haven’t seen enough of Jorge Bonifacio to have a strong opinion on him either way, but I know that he hasn’t shown up on anybody’s top 100 prospects list in three years, and struck out 130 times in 134 games in the Pacific Coast League last year.
Orlando managed a .734 OPS in 484 big-league plate appearances in 2016, which isn’t bad, but for me the part that would seal it is he’s a better defender — and much better in center field than I thought he’d be.
That second part is important as Lorenzo Cain needs more time off his legs, because as fun as that was for a day or two, Alex Gordon is not your big-league center fielder.
Orlando was a better player than you’re giving him credit for here. His adjusted OPS last year was comparable to Addison Russell, Stephen Vogt, Adam Jones, Starlin Castro, and others. I’m not here to tell you he’s better than any of those guys, because he’s not. I’m not even here to tell you he’ll repeat those numbers, because I don’t know that he will.
But I do think he’s earned the chance.
KFOR to air Royals baseball games
March 28, 2017 By Jeff Korbelik/Lincoln Star Journal
http://journalstar.com/entertainment/tv-radio/kfor-to-air-royals-baseball-games/article_2a5d6da8-46fb-5bd0-9d18-982315b46a9e.html Alpha Media radio station KFOR announced Tuesday it signed a multi-year contract to air Kansas City Royals baseball games beginning this season.
The first game is 3:10 p.m. April 3 against the Minnesota Twins.
KFOR (1240 AM) will air every regular season and post season game from the Royals Radio Network.
“The Royals fan base in Lincoln is extremely passionate. We’re excited that KFOR will be the home and away voice of the Royals in Lincoln and the surrounding area,” KFOR Program Director Chris Goforth said in a press release.
NATIONAL Royals, key players looking for bounce-back season in 2017
March 28, 2017 By FOXSports.com (via AP)
http://www.foxsports.com/mlb/story/royals-key-players-looking-for-bounce-back-season-in-2017-032817 The Kansas City Royals and Alex Gordon were both flying high a year ago, the team coming off its first World Series title in three decades and the star outfielder having signed a new long-term contract.
Both fell back to earth in disappointing fashion.
The Royals stumbled through a dismal July that left them in no man’s land, too far out of contention to make a serious run at the division title yet not far enough out that they began selling off. And the result was an 81-81 record and third-place finish in the AL Central that left nobody content.
Gordon was already struggling in late May when he broke his wrist in a collision with third baseman Mike Moustakas, who wound up missing the rest of the year with a torn ACL. Gordon eventually returned, but hit just .220 with 17 homers and 40 RBIs. Now, team and player are hoping for big bounce-back years.
”You have to learn to deal with failure,” Gordon said. ”Be a man about it. Look yourself in the mirror and keep working hard.”
Many view this season as the Royals’ last, best chance to chase a division crown, at least for the next few years. Moustakas, first baseman Eric Hosmer, shortstop Alcides Escobar and several others so instrumental in dragging a moribund franchise to the pinnacle of baseball are due to hit free agency next offseason, which means their window to contend may last just one more year.
Or even a few more months, if they’re out of contention by the trading deadline.
The Royals have made some moves this offseason to address that looming possibility, trading All-Star closer Wade Davis for outfielder Jorge Soler (currently out with a strained oblique), and shipping speedy outfielder Jarrod Dyson to Seattle for pitcher Nate Karns. Davis and Dyson also were due to hit free agency, and Kansas City got in return two players who will likely contribute for the foreseeable future.
”We don’t buy into the assumption that our window is going to close on our team,” general manager Dayton Moore said. ”Rosters do change. You’ve got to learn to manage change effectively.”
What no one envisioned was the car crash that killed young pitcher Yordano Ventura in the Dominican Republic. The Royals saw Ventura as a piece of their starting rotation for years to come, and his death just prior to spring training shook the organization to the core.
But that core has been to a pair of World Series, and remains one of the most tight-knit in baseball. And that’s why expectations are again bright as opening day approaches.
”These guys really enjoy playing with each other. They cherish every game they play together,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. ”Do I expect us to bounce back? Yeah, absolutely.”
THE ROTATION: Inconsistent starting pitching was the biggest downfall of the Royals last season, and as a result, the rotation looks vastly different this year. Danny Duffy will serve as an anchor, followed by veteran Ian Kennedy and Jason Vargas. Newcomers Jason Hammel and Karns will round it out.
THE BULLPEN: Davis has been one of the game’s best closers the past few years, but Kelvin Herrera showed late last season that he can handle the job. The bigger question is who will get the ball to him in the ninth? Joakim Soria needs to bounce back after a frustrating season, while youngster Matt Strahm has the makings of the next strong-armed superstar.
POWER SURGE: Kansas City has relied on defense and small ball to win the past few years, but look for an uptick in homers this season. Soler has flashed some big potential to drive the ball, and new DH Brandon Moss comes with a reputation for hitting it out – and striking out.
ROOKIE WATCH: Infielder Raul Mondesi Jr. got a taste of the big leagues last year and was soundly overmatched. But nobody has been better in spring training,
and the shortstop – or second baseman – of the future will be counted on to help this season, even if not right away.
CRUCIAL STRETCH: The Royals begin the season on April 3 with a six-game road trip to Minnesota and Houston, and getting off to a good start is crucial. But the key stretch could be in mid-July, when the Rangers, Tigers and White Sox visit Kansas City. If the Royals are still in contention after that point, they may go all-in at the trade deadline in pursuit of a third World Series title.
March 29, 2017 •.CBSSports.com http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/transactions