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Orlando excited to be back, looks to fill Jay's void

MLB.com

OAKLAND -- Paulo Orlando started the season with the Royals, though he lasted less than a month after hitting .191 in 13 games.

But after center fielder Jon Jay was dealt to the D-backs earlier this week, Orlando has another chance to stick in the big leagues. The 32-year-old outfielder was recalled from Triple-A Omaha on Thursday and started in center field against the A's on Friday.

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OAKLAND -- Paulo Orlando started the season with the Royals, though he lasted less than a month after hitting .191 in 13 games.

But after center fielder Jon Jay was dealt to the D-backs earlier this week, Orlando has another chance to stick in the big leagues. The 32-year-old outfielder was recalled from Triple-A Omaha on Thursday and started in center field against the A's on Friday.

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"I'm happy to be back," said Orlando, who was batting eighth and playing center field. "I know [the Royals] made a lot of moves. I'm happy to be back, to come here, try to help the team."

It is hardly Orlando's first transition. After a breakthrough 2016 campaign when he hit .302 in 128 games, Orlando split last season between Omaha and Kansas City, hitting .198 in the Majors.

Orlando is hopeful this time up will be different. Orlando said he has made adjustments with his swing, trying to be more selective at the plate than in the beginning of the season. In his first 47 at-bats, he struck out 12 times while walking just twice.

It paid off in Omaha, where Orlando hit .300 with five homers in 35 games, and was on an 11-game hit streak before getting the call up.

Orlando's big league return got off to an inauspicious start Thursday. He went 0-for-4 on Thursday with two strikeouts and lost a fly ball hit by Matt Chapman in the lights in the sixth inning that led to a run in the team's 4-1 loss to the A's. But Orlando's here to help fill the void left by Jay's departure, and he wants to start in center every day.

"That's my goal," Orlando said. "You never know what happens. Try to do my best, give 100 percent and help the team."

For now, the Royals will use a platoon in center, said manager Ned Yost. Orlando will get starts, but so will Abraham Almonte and Whit Merrifield, who is primarily the starting second baseman but has spent time in the outfield.

"We don't have a set role yet for who will play out there," Yost said. "Paulo will get in. We'll mix it up out there."

Orlando is just happy for another opportunity.

"Looking forward to being back, finishing strong," Orlando said. "Not like the start."

Eric He is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area.

Kansas City Royals, Paulo Orlando