KANSAS CITY, Mo. How important is the Royals' 9-0-1 start this spring training?
Well, it's not exactly the buzz around the Royals' offices in Surprise, Ariz.
"Not many people are talking about it," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said by phone Monday. "As a matter of fact, a couple of days ago, someone mentioned we were unbeaten and I thought they were wrong. I thought we already had a loss.
"It is spring training, after all. It's not like we're looking up the standings every day. But on the other hand, it's nice to win. It's always nice to win. At the end of the day, it's better than losing."
The primary focus of spring training, Moore points out, is simply to get the team's rotation in order, and to make sure the hitters and fielders are fundamentally sound before the regular-season opener.
But, the Royals' nine-game winning streak does demonstrate that the team is playing hard, even if it's only spring training.
"It also shows you that we have some depth," Moore said. "It's usually the team with quality depth that wins early on in spring training. You have your starters only going three or four innings, and then you flip over your lineup completely. At that point, it's really which team has the most quality depth.
"So, we're pleased with how the guys are responding, especially the guys out there fighting for a job. They're going to the park every day and playing hard. (Manager) Ned (Yost) is a very competitive person, as you know. He wants his team to be competitive, no matter if it's spring training or not.
"You want to develop an attitude, a culture of winning. And you need to have that attitude all the time, whether it's in spring training or the regular season, or if you're just taking swings in the cage. Play hard and play to win."
So far, the Royals are doing all of the above. The team leads all 30 teams this spring with a .338 team batting average and a 3.00 team ERA.
"I'm very pleased with what I've seen so far," Moore said. "Guys are taking good swings at good pitches. We've been through the rotation once now, plus Wade Davis has made two excellent starts. And Will Smith has looked very good in his two appearances.
"Mainly, you want to make sure the guys are getting their work in and right now, we're accomplishing that. Are we looking at the nine wins as some kind of accomplishment? No, of course not. But even though it's spring training, you like to leave the park every day with a win. Even a loss down here can leave a little bit of a bad taste in your mouth."
The Royals also have escaped the injury bug, which is high on Moore's priority list.
"Get ready, get prepared and stay healthy," Moore said. "Those are the goals here. It's certainly nice to be winning, but it's early. The wins show us that there is a sense of urgency to this club, that it will play hard at all times.
"But we're not getting any kind of false sense of security. I can assure you of that."