KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Five things to know about the Kansas City Royals as they start spring training camp:
ROTATION ROLES: The top of the Royals rotation is set with James Shields, recently signed Jason Vargas and Jeremy Guthrie. Beyond that, questions abound. Veteran left-hander Bruce Chen is expected to get first crack at one of the jobs, but the final spot is up for grabs among Yordano Ventura, Danny Duffy, Brad Penny, Wade Davis and Luke Hochevar.
''I want to give everyone a fair chance at it,'' Royals manager Ned Yost said. ''We'll look at everyone and see where they fit. That's the beauty of spring training.''
ROYAL TIGER: The Royals signed second baseman Omar Infante to a $32 million, four-year deal in free agency, filling their most glaring need. As a bonus, Infante won't be able to wreak havoc against Kansas City anymore. He hit .375 against the Royals last season.
''Everybody has faced Infante a bit,'' said Davis, who also faced him when he pitched for the Rays. ''He's one of the tougher outs. We can all agree with that.''
BRUTAL BULLPEN: Kansas City returns intact one of the most dominant bullpens in baseball, headlined by All-Star closer Greg Holland. The hard-throwing right-hander emerged as one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball, going 2-1 with a 1.21 ERA and 47 saves last season.
''In my opinion we've had the best bullpen in baseball the last few years,'' reliever Aaron Crow said, ''and I just think we can keep getting better.''
MOOSE IS LOOSE: Third baseman Mike Moustakas played winter ball in Venezuela in the hopes of rediscovering his swing. Once considered a cornerstone of the franchise's future, Moose hit just .233 with 12 homers and 42 RBIs last season. But he believes an offseason of working with hitting coach Pedro Grifol - along with getting in better shape - will pay off in a big way.
''We tried to adjust a few things, but nothing too crazy,'' Moustakas said. ''Still the same swing, still try to drive the ball and do some damage.''
BIG EXPECTATIONS: The Royals haven't made the postseason since winning the 1985 World Series, but they made a big step last season by hanging around until the final week of September. And after a solid offseason in which they filled some of their biggest holes, the Royals believe they can challenge Detroit and Cleveland for a division title.
''We're expected to compete, man, and if you're going to win the American League Central, you're going to have to take it from the Tigers,'' designated hitter Billy Butler said. ''We realize they're the best team in the Central, but I feel like the central as a whole has become tougher.''

Top MLB Public Bets

MLB Top Stories

Thumbnail Opening 2018 World Series Odds The 2018 World Series opening odds have been released. Who is favored, who is the biggest challenger, and who is also in the mix?
Thumbnail Astros vs. Dodgers Pick Are the Houston Astros going to clinch their first-ever World Series title Wednesday night in Game 7 with an upset win at the Los Angeles Dodgers? Game time is...
Thumbnail Astros vs. Dodgers Pick Can the Houston Astros clinch their first-ever World Series title Tuesday night in Game 6 at the Los Angeles...
Thumbnail Dodgers vs. Astros Pick Are the Los Angeles Dodgers going to ride Clayton Kershaw to a victory over the host Houston Astros in a pivotal Game 5 of the World Series Sunday night? First pitch is at...
Thumbnail Dodgers vs. Astros Pick Are the Houston Astros going to win a third straight game over the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers Saturday night in Game 4 of the World Series? First pitch is at...

MLB Team Pages