3 questions to answer at Royals' camp

February 17th, 2016

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Pitchers and catchers officially report Thursday, and the World Series champion Royals will get their first glimpse of newcomers such as Joakim Soria, Ian Kennedy, Dillon Gee and others in uniform.

There will definitely be some terrific battles in camp for the final two rotation spots behind Edinson Volquez, Yordano Ventura and Kennedy, as well as the final few spots in the bullpen.

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"The No. 1 priority in Spring Training is to stay healthy," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. "But we'll have some competition, too, for some spots, and that will be interesting to follow."

With that in mind, let's move on to Part VI of our Spring Training preview series: three questions that must be answered this camp.

Bounceback candidates | Newcomers | Prospects to watch | 2B battle | Projections

Also worth noting, as Moore likes to point out, is that the Royals' 25-man roster will remain fluid throughout the season.

"The 25-man roster you start the season with," Moore said, "won't be the same one you end up with."

1. Who wins the second-base job?

Moore certainly raised some eyebrows last December when he told MLB.com that the second-base job was up for grabs, declaring that the "best man will win" between incumbent Omar Infante and Christian Colon. The new-era Royals will not let Infante's contract -- he still is owed $17.75 million -- influence who wins the job. Infante clearly is the better defender, but the Royals simply won't suffer through another poor offensive year (.552 OPS in 2015) from him. Enter Colon, one of the heroes from Game 5 of the World Series, who drove in the eventual winning run. Funny thing is, Colon offensively projects to be about the same type of hitter Infante has been over his career -- .270-.275 with six to 10 homers a season. At any rate, it will be a rare position battle to watch this spring.

2. Who grabs the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation?

Left-hander Danny Duffy and right-handers Chris Young, Kris Medlen, and Gee will be the primary candidates to compete for the final two spots; those who don't win the spots likely are headed for the bullpen. The Royals would love to have a left-hander in the rotation, and they are crossing their fingers that Duffy can seize a spot in camp. If not, though, they know Duffy can be a valuable power arm in the bullpen. Medlen enters his second season coming off Tommy John surgery and should be stronger. Moore called Young the staff's "MVP" last season because of his versatility alternating from the rotation to the bullpen. Gee is the wild card and not that far removed from a 199-inning, 3.62-ERA season in 2013. Should be interesting.

3. Can Jarrod Dyson hold down right field?

The Royals did not aggressively seek an outside solution to the hole in right field, and, at least for now, believe it's time for Dyson to get his chance as a starter. We know Dyson will bring speed to the table -- he's averaged almost 32 steals a season the past four years as a backup. But his splits against left-handers -- .211 over his career -- are less than appealing. Look for manager Ned Yost to at least start the season with a soft platoon in right field with Dyson and right-handed-hitting Paulo Orlando. Perhaps Dyson's numbers against left-handers will improve with more playing time.