Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL - SPRING TRAINING ; Another World Series or Bust for Royals

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL - SPRING TRAINING ; Another World Series or Bust for Royals

Article excerpt

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Two years ago, hardly anyone expected the Kansas City Royals to reach the World Series. Last year, very few expected them to win it.

Perhaps it's time to start readjusting some expectations.

After winning 95 games, their first division title in three decades and defeating the New York Mets in five games in the World Series, the plucky Royals surely won't surprise anybody this season. But with most of their critical pieces returning from that team, there is ample reason to believe Kansas City can create some more October magic, even if they'll be getting everyone's best shot.

"Winning a world championship is the toughest thing you can do in this sport, manager Ned Yost said. "I mean, you've got 30 teams every year trying to do it. You have the smartest people in the game trying to figure out how to do it. It's not easy. But we've got a good core group, a good group of young players. They've been there, done that. And they'll do it again.

Imagine that kind of hubris a decade ago, when Kansas City was losing 100 games every year.

Things change quickly in baseball, though. And not only have the Royals reached the game's pinnacle, other teams are feverishly trying to follow the same blueprint that got them there.

They built their core through the draft. They eschewed pricy starters for shutdown relievers. And they put a premium on speed and defense, sometimes at the expense of power.

"I've always wanted to play with guys like that, said starter Ian Kennedy, one of the few newcomers on this year's team. "They play unbelievable defense, they're talented, and that makes me really excited to hop right in. Don't change anything and help the team win.

Besides signing Kennedy and reliever Joakim Soria, the only other major move the Royals made was to re-sign Alex Gordon. The All-Star outfielder tested out free agency for the first time in his career, but chose to sign a $72 million, four-year deal to remain where he felt most at home.

"I mean, we all wanted to make it fair for both sides, Gordon said. "It was definitely a process but we got to that point and I'm happy with where I'm at now. …

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