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Burns looks to make Royals' roster in crowded OF mix

MLB.com

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Things change quickly in baseball, and a year is more than enough time for a drastic shift.

Just look at Royals outfielder Billy Burns.

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Things change quickly in baseball, and a year is more than enough time for a drastic shift.

Just look at Royals outfielder Billy Burns.

Last spring, he was with the A's. But changing teams doesn't constitute much.

Last March, Burns was coming off a breakout first full season in the big leagues, during which he finished fifth in American League Rookie of the Year Award voting. He was penciled in to be the A's center fielder and leadoff hitter in 2016.

Now, after a slow start last season and a mid-year trade to the Royals, the speedster is just trying to make the Opening Day roster among a crowded group of outfielders.

"You definitely don't expect to get traded, but you roll with it," Burns said Wednesday. "I like this organization. I like what this team is about. I like the family vibe that they have on this team. If I could be a part of it, it would be a great success for me, and I'll have a lot of fun with these guys."

Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain and Jorge Soler are locked in as starters. Reserves Paulo Orlando and Terrance Gore, both valued by manager Ned Yost, are back. Utility man Whit Merrifield also can play all three outfield positions. Burns, a career .271 hitter with 46 stolen bases in 60 attempts, has his work cut out for him over the next month.

Video: NYY@KC: Burns steals second base in the 11th

"I want to showcase what I can do, and provide a value for this team," Burns said. "Hopefully show them I can play here. ... It's the same thing I always do -- try to improve my game and compete at the highest level; play hard and run fast. That's all.

"I don't really speculate. I just go out and play my game, and let everybody else worry about that."

With Jarrod Dyson traded to the Mariners in early January, Burns could fill that valuable speed role coming off the bench.

"He's in the thick of all that," Yost said. "He's a guy that really fits our profile. He's athletic, a switch-hitter and he's got speed. We like him a lot."

Chris Gabel is a contributor to MLB.com.

Kansas City Royals, Billy Burns