Though Royals’ manager, Ned Yost, has already stated he doesn’t plan on contending this year. “I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people with our team. I think we’re going to have a much better team than all the ‘experts’ think we’re going to have,” Yost said to the press recently. Yost seems confident in his team, where shortly he will be carving the 65 man roster down to 25. Yost has already stated his probable Opening Day line-up, but it could be a move to make the youngsters step up their game and have a good Spring Training. Yost is definetly optimistic about this season, and the Royals don’t have anything to lose with the youngest team in the AL Central
There are still some question marks as the Royals Spring Training gets underway. Everything from starters in the infield to the starting rotation, to bullpen pitchers. Mike Aviles is slated to be the Royals starting 3rd baseman, after spending last season at 2nd base and playing shortstop in 2008. His 2009 season was shortened due to a reconstructive elbow surgery midseason. Now that his arm is full strength, the Royals expect him to be gunning down runners at 3rd base. Aviles says his arm is “back to normal”, and he can just pick up the ball and throw again. Former-first round draft pick Aaron Crow is looking for a spot with the Royals starting rotation. After having a stellar performance at he Royals 2010 Sping Training, he spent the season struggling at Double-A Northwest Arkansas with too many walks. Ned Yost, though, is optimistic that this season will be better than last stating he thinks the kid was just thinking too much instead of playing. Hopefully Aviles and Crow come out and play in Spring Training to prove that the young Royals have some talent.
Royal’s owner David Glass is confident that his 2011 Royals will reverse their losing ways of past seasons. He is optimistic and excited to see his young team start playing in Arizona. Royal’s general manager Dayton Moore has focused on building a quality farm system for the Royals future, and he seems to be building well. Baseball America gave the Royals’ farm system the best rating for 2011 and mlb.com rated the Royals as having six of the Top 50 prospects, which is a record tying number. The Royals traded away their star starting pitcher Zack Greinke to the Brewers for 4 prospects, Jeremy Jeffress and Jake Odorizzi, both pitchers, shortstop Alcides Escobar and center fielder Lorenzo Cain. Though, the Royal’s farm system seems to be glowing with the shine of future stars, it will still be hard in 2011 to make any noise in the AL Central with the Chi Sox, the Twins and the Tigers.
With the Royals trading AL Cy Young winning Zack Grienke away to the Brewers, it looks as if without their biggest star, the Royals will be battling it out with the Cleveland Indians for fourth place in the AL Central. Veteran Pedro Feliz signed a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training. Feliz is a career .250 hitter but is known for his glove at third. General manager Dayton Moore believes that Feliz will provide depth at the third base position that, like the rest of the positions, will be dominated by new, young players. Having a veteran invited to Spring Training will not only influence the attitude of the players around him in the field, but Feliz could also be a key guy in a clubhouse full of players new to the Bigs. The Royals finished last in American League defense in both 2009 and 2010. With a veteran at third base who has a strong glove and throwing arm, Royals could improve defensively starting in 2011.
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