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Healthy Soler focused, ready to prove worth

Slugger out of options, eager to bounce back from 2017 struggles
MLB.com @FlannyMLB

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- This is the season the Royals likely will find out what they have in outfielder Jorge Soler.

Soler, 25, struggled in his first season with the Royals after being acquired from the Cubs in a Winter Meetings deal in 2016 for closer Wade Davis.

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- This is the season the Royals likely will find out what they have in outfielder Jorge Soler.

Soler, 25, struggled in his first season with the Royals after being acquired from the Cubs in a Winter Meetings deal in 2016 for closer Wade Davis.

Soler suffered an oblique injury at the end of Spring Training last year and didn't make his debut with the Royals until early May. He never got comfortable at the big league level, hit .144 in 35 games with two home runs and spent two stints in Triple-A.

But now, Soler is out of options and destined for the Royals' 25-man roster.

Royals manager Ned Yost indicated he hopes to get Soler 500-600 at bats. Some of those at-bats will come at DH or in a corner-outfield spot.

Video: MIN@KC: Soler throws out Sano at third in 2nd

Soler doesn't much care where he plays.

"I'm ready for whatever they need me to do," Soler said through interpreter Daniela Duron.

Although Soler did hit 24 home runs at Triple-A last season, he was anxious to flush 2017 and work hard this offseason.

"Last season was disappointing," Soler acknowledged.

Soler's plan of attack this offseason was to lose weight and tweak his batting stance.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

"I've got my hands a little closer to my body in my stance," he said, suggesting he will be quicker to the ball.

Soler also dropped close to 20 pounds, going from 245 to 226. He gave up sweets and pizza and has vowed to improve his diet over the season, too.

"Last year I felt a little bit bigger and a little slower," he said. "I wanted to get back to my old playing weight."

Now, he'll get his opportunity to play close to every day.

"We'll see how it plays out," he said. "I'm not thinking about that. I'm just focusing on having a good year."

Video: MIN@KC: Soler ranges back to make inning-ending catch

While the outfield corner spots seem to be set with Alex Gordon in left and Jorge Bonifacio in right, Yost said there'll be plenty of chances for Soler to play the field.

"I wouldn't be ready to pigeonhole him in as a DH yet, but he could do it," Yost said. "I've heard rave reviews of what he's done over the winter and how he worked his tail off. His mindset was very diligent in what he was doing.

"He just needs to get at-bats. He doesn't have a tremendous amount of at-bats under his belt. [We] liken him to what Lorenzo Cain had to do. We sent Cain down his first year, and then he came back his second year and made that jump."

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

Kansas City Royals, Jorge Soler