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The arc of the Kansas City Royals last season tracked closely to that of Adalberto M
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The arc of the Kansas City Royals last season tracked closely to that of Adalberto M

KANSAS CITY Lance McCullers Jersey , Mo. (AP) — most touted prospects in years and quite possibly the future of the organization.After shuttling back and forth between the Royals and the minors the previous two seasons, the talented shortstop failed to make the club out of spring training. Once he arrived midway through the year, he went through another month of brutal growing pains.Then something suddenly clicked, and Mondesi went on a tear the final three months of the season, becoming one of the hottest players in the American League.The Royals, who until then were scuffling toward 100-plus losses, likewise caught fire.The club jettisoned many of its aging veterans and plugged in guys like Mondesi, up-and-coming prospects with bright futures. The result was more wins than losses down the stretch, and just as with Mondesi, a very real sense of optimism about what this year could hold.“I was so enthused with the progress we made in the last half of the season last year, how well these kids played,” manager Ned Yost said. “All the hard work they put in every single day when nobody was looking , it finally started to pay off for them the last six weeks. I just think we continue to pick up where we left off. Where we left off is OK.”The Royals are far from a finished project, of course. They have questions just about everywhere on the roster, including the starting rotation and bullpen. Pitchers and catchers report Feb. 12 in Surprise, Arizona, and position players join them a few days later.NEW LOOKThe Royals added speed, speed, speed with INF-OF Chris Owings and OF Billy Hamilton joining the fold. Hamilton, Mondesi and Whit Merrifield give them three of MLB’s top eight base-stealers last season.“Power is always an important part of the game. I don’t think with our ballpark and our style of play, that we can live on that,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. “We need a balanced team.”ROOKIES TO WATCHRHP Josh Staumont, a second-round pick in 2015, and LHP Richard Lovelady, a 10th-round selection in 2016 Alex Bregman Jersey , appear poised to break through. Staumont had a 3.51 ERA with an excellent strikeout rate at Triple-A Omaha last season, while Lovelady carried a 2.47 ERA at Omaha and could join his fellow prospect in forming the foundation of a formidable bullpen.THEY”RE SETThe Royals are solid up the middle, where Mondesi is entrenched at shortstop and the Royals recently gave second baseman Merrifield a $16.25 million, four-year contract. Salvador Perez isn’t going anywhere behind the plate.“I love Kansas City. I love playing here. It’s where I want to be,” Merrifield said. “This is the organization I’ve been with my whole career. They gave me the opportunity to play in the big leagues.”THEY’RE NOTThere is experience in the rotation with LHP Danny Duffy, RHP Brad Keller, RHP Jakob Junis and RHP Ian Kennedy at the front end, but none of them is necessarily entrenched in their spots. The bullpen is total question mark, though, with perhaps the exception of Wily Peralta at the back end.“Last year, no one really knew what roles they were going to fill,” Keller said. “Now we kind of have roles. I think we’ll be more together and ready to roll early.”ON DECKStyle and substance are the two biggest reasons to watch the Royals ahead of their season opener March 28 against the White Sox. The style part is that Kansas City will likely play an entertaining style predicated on speed and daring, while the substance part of it involves seeing whether a young group of prospects can continue to develop into big leaguers. TAMPA Carlos Beltran Jersey , Fla. (AP) — Troy Tulowitzki took a called third strike in his first simulated game of spring training and followed with a drive down the right-field line that would have been over Yankee Stadium’s right-field wall.“Honestly I feel good, ready to go,” he said. “Just excited to play.”Now 34, the five-time All-Star has not played in the major leagues since July 2017. He is projected to start at shortstop for the New York Yankees while Didi Gregorius recovers from Tommy John surgery.Tulowitzki missed last season because of bone spurs in his right and left heels.“Taking a full year off was tough for me,” he said. “But I think it’s built some character, it’s built some toughness, and it makes you appreciate it that much more being out there. It’s been a long road. It’s took it’s toll but I’m still here standing.”Gregorius is expected to return to the Yankees between June and August. Tulowitzki isn’t expressing worry about his role.“I care about just doing the best job I can to fill in for Didi,” he said. “Things work themselves out.”Tulowitzki topped .300 or better four times from 2010-14 and 90 RBIs from 2009-11, boosted by Colorado’s hitter-friendly Coors Field.He agreed last month to a one-year contract with the Yankees for the major league minimum $555,000. That will be offset against the $20 million he is owed by Toronto, which released him. The Blue Jays also are responsible for $14 million in salary for 2020 plus a $4 million buyout of a 2021 team option.“The question now for him is going to be the ability to bounce back and can he endure the rigors of being a regular,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “He looks really good moving around in the field and where he’s at with his swing.”Boone said a plan is in place for Tulowitzki until mid-March and that he will play consecutive days before the team breaks camp.“The idea would be at some point middle of spring that we start to see some bounce back and that will kind of determine if he’s able to really be a regular,” Boone said.Tulowitzki has a no-trade provision in his deal with the Yankees. He hopes to find success in New York.“I’ve done a lot of things in my career ,” Tulowitzki said. “The one thing that’s missing, I’ve been close, I haven’t won a ring.”MORE SWINGSGreg Bird, slowed by injuries last year and trying to unseat Luke Voit at first base, also took part in the simulated game. The left-handed hitter had three at-bats, including a walk and pop fly off a southpaw. “I think he’s added some weight in a good way,” Boone said. “I think, clearly, he feels like he’s through some of the physical things that we’re holding him back a little last year.”
03-11-2019 05:00 AM
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