Royals report to spring training full of hope

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 25, 2012
Mlb_white_sox_3fee
Ned Yost can barely contain his excitement. The reason is quite simple: After a year of growth, when several prized young prospects finally broke into the major leagues, Yost believes Kansas City has the pieces in place to contend for its first playoff berth since winning the 1985 World Series. ''They're going to be a vastly improved team,'' Yost said. ''How good can they be? I don't know. I think they're going to be pretty darn good, but time will tell.'' Fans in Kansas City have grown accustomed to needing patience, going through numerous so-called youth movements over the past three decades. The Royals had the worst record in the majors from 2000-09, losing 100 or more games in four downtrodden seasons. Their only winning record since 1994 was a modest 83-79 in 2003. There is a different feeling surrounding this youth movement, though, as if this one will finally pay off. The Royals have 22-year-old Eric Hosmer at first base, 23-year-old Mike Moustakas at third and 21-year-old catcher Salvador Perez. That's only the start: second baseman Johnny Giavotella is 24, center fielder Lorenzo Cain and shortstop Alcides Esocbar are 25, while the grizzled veterans include 28-year-old corner outfielders Alex Gordon and Jeff Francoeur, both coming off strong seasons. Most of them have been in camp since early February, getting a jump start in spring training. Yost believes that's a sign of how mature a group of 20-somethings has become, and remembers his time with the Milwaukee Brewers, when Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun and Rickie Weeks would arrive to spring training early. The trio set the tone for future success. ''When we first started out and we weren't really good,'' Yost said, ''you would have six or seven players there early. When the young kids started getting there and they started feeling what they could accomplish, it was like this.'' Everyone was in camp by Friday except left-hander Jose Mijares, who has been dealing with some visa issues in his native Venezuela. Otherwise, camp is already in full swing. ''It's exciting,'' Yost said. ''The kids can't wait to get here and can't wait to get started. It just shows how far our organization has come. You can wait awhile to get your butt kicked, but when you come to spring training and you have a sense you have a chance to compete, guys can't wait for that, and it's evident in the numbers we have there.'' Despite the optimism at camp, the Royals lost 91 games last season, finishing fourth in the AL Central and 24 games back of Detroit. Part of that were growing pains for all those youngsters breaking into the majors. Once September rolled around, the Royals played spoiler down the stretch. ''Do I have more anticipation on what I feel we can accomplish? Definitely,'' Yost said. ''Last year, we were waiting for these kids to get here and that was the first time all these kids were together in spring training. So that was a lot of fun - that was real exciting. ''Now they've been there and done that. They're ready to compete a full season.'' Hosmer in particular appears to be a star in the making. He hit .293 with 19 homers and 78 RBIs after his May 6 promotion, generating a lot of talk for AL rookie of the year. Moustakas got off to a much slower start before hitting .379 over his final 36 games. Perez hit .331 in 39 games. Kansas City underwent a similar renaissance in the late 1990s, when Johnny Damon, Carlos Beltran, Mike Sweeney and Jermaine Dye made their big league debuts. They were supposed to break through in 2000, but a potent offense failed to overcome poor pitching in a 77-85 season. Perhaps with that in the back of his mind, general manager Dayton Moore bolstered the rotation by trading for Jonathan Sanchez and adding a couple of arms for the bullpen. Yost understands, though, that he won't know what he has until the games count. Until then, everything else is just talk. ''We know we're going to have a great defensive team,'' he said. ''That's going to be one of the strengths of our team. I think our pitching is going to be vastly improved. I think we're going to command the baseball a lot better. I think our kids are going to swing the bat. ''You add that up, it's going to be real, real interesting to see what we can accomplish.''
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Cubs close door on Sammy Sosa reunion after bizarre comments

Rick Pitino restrained from going after North Carolina fan

76ers trading Ersan Ilyasova to Hawks for Tiago Splitter, pick

Budapest drops 2024 Olympic bid, leaving only Los Angeles and Paris, which could ban some participants

DeMarcus Cousins was ‘praying’ for a better supporting cast with Sacramento

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Nets trading Bojan Bogdanovic to Wizards

Elliott spoke with police after 'best friend' caught with gun

Jets reportedly believe Jay Cutler can compete in AFC East

Report: 'Melo could waive no-trade clause for Clippers after season

Rivers: Paul medically cleared to play, could return Thursday

Trea Turner missed part of Nats camp Wedneday for jury duty

The Aesthetic: Pushing the boundaries of the three-pointer

The top 10 MLB third basemen heading into spring training

NBA coaches who should be fired soon

Box Score 2/22: Not everyone is happy with the new intentional walk rule

Teams and players who could be dealing at the NBA trade deadline

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

Nintendo is finally, thankfully embracing sports and eSports

The 'Did the Kings just make the Pelicans into a super team?' quiz

Will the Timberwolves start showcasing their potential?

'Playmakers' in Ice Cube's league who can help the Cavs

Box Score 2/21: It's trade heartbreak season

The guard tandems you'd want in a 2-on-2 tournament

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The top 10 MLB third basemen heading into spring training

The Aesthetic: Pushing the boundaries of the three-pointer

NBA coaches who should be fired soon

QUIZ: Name every MLB pitcher to win the MVP award

Teams, players who could be dealing at the NBA trade deadline

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

Nintendo is finally, thankfully embracing sports and eSports

The 'Did the Kings just make the Pelicans into a super team?' quiz

Will the Timberwolves start showcasing their potential?

'Playmakers' in Ice Cube's league who can help the Cavs

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker