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Duda flashes pop with jack in first Royals AB

MLB.com @FlannyMLB

KANSAS CITY -- First baseman Lucas Duda, a Spring Training free-agent signing, made his Royals debut with a bang in a 14-7 loss to the White Sox on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium.

Duda, who signed a one-year, $3.5 million deal essentially to replace Eric Hosmer, smashed a three-run home run off former Royals right-hander James Shields, giving Kansas City a 4-0 lead in the first inning on Opening Day.

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KANSAS CITY -- First baseman Lucas Duda, a Spring Training free-agent signing, made his Royals debut with a bang in a 14-7 loss to the White Sox on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium.

Duda, who signed a one-year, $3.5 million deal essentially to replace Eric Hosmer, smashed a three-run home run off former Royals right-hander James Shields, giving Kansas City a 4-0 lead in the first inning on Opening Day.

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"[Shields] was locating pretty well," Duda said. "But yeah, then I got a good pitch and I got it. Felt good."

Duda jumped on a 2-0 cutter from Shields and launched it a projected 410 feet from the plate, according to Statcast™, into the right-center field seats.

"I wasn't sure it would go out," Duda said. "It was cold. It was rainy. It was windy. I hustled out of the box just in case."

Duda, who hit 30 home runs for the Mets and Rays combined last season, became the first to hit a home run in his first at-bat for the Royals since Adam Moore did so in 2012. Duda became the fifth player in Royals history to perform the feat -- joining Moore, Calvin Pickering (2004), Yamil Benitez (1997) and Jon Nunnally ('95).

"It's funny because you watch him in Spring Training in BP and he was just really focused on going the other way," manager Ned Yost said of Duda. "But in BPs here, he is opening it up and you can really see how dynamic his power is. He got a pitch he liked and didn't miss it. He crushed it."

Duda's home run impressed his new teammates as well.

"Him getting a homer right off the bat was awesome," Royals left-hander Danny Duffy said. "He was always someone you didn't want to see up there. He's got pop."

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals, Lucas Duda