SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Royals designated hitter Kendrys Morales gave Kansas City a presence in the middle of the lineup not seen since Billy Butler was at his peak in 2012."He just had a phenomenal year for us," manager Ned Yost said. "And he's a great teammate. He's universally loved in
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Royals designated hitter Kendrys Morales gave Kansas City a presence in the middle of the lineup not seen since Billy Butler was at his peak in 2012.
"He just had a phenomenal year for us," manager Ned Yost said. "And he's a great teammate. He's universally loved in that locker room."
• Spring Training information
Morales, who hit .290 with 22 homers and 106 RBIs in 2015, chatted with reporters briefly on Wednesday before the Royals' split-squad games: a 7-5 win over the Brewers in Surprise, and a 7-5 loss to the Mariners in Peoria -- in which Morales went 1-for-3. Kansas City's catching coach, Pedro Grifol, served as the interpreter.
Q: What does winning the Edgar Martinez Award and the Silver Slugger Award mean to you?
Morales: "Many thanks to my teammates and to the voters. Hopefully I can continue to work this year to replicate it."
Q: How can you improve on 2015?
Morales: "I will continue to work as hard as I did last year and just play to win baseball games. Hopefully we can have a great year like we did last year and everything will take care of itself."
Q: What did you do in the offseason to celebrate?
Morales: "I took a month off. I hadn't played as long of a season as last year [ever]. After a month, I started my work."
Q: What did you think of the victory parade in Kansas City?
Morales: "The most I have ever made it into the playoffs was the second round, so I had never experienced anything like that. It was incredible to see the turnout. The support was incredible."
Q: Cuba seems to be opening up more with baseball and allowing exhibition games. Are you surprised about this?
Morales: "It's about time for Cuba to allow these players to be put into the same field with Major League players to see how they measure up with Major League talent. Hopefully down the road it will give those guys an opportunity to play in the United States."
Q: What did winning the World Series mean to you and your career?
Morales: "Thank God we were able to have the season we had last year. You play a long season and it's a grind, and to be able to do what we did was incredible. A lot of players play 17 or 18 years of professional baseball and they never experience something like that. I'm just grateful to have that opportunity."
Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB.