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Yost embraces Royals' youth movement

Veteran manager not worried about contract, which ends after 2018 season
MLB.com @FlannyMLB

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Royals manager Ned Yost had every reason to pack it in over the offseason. Even though his contract runs through the end of this season, he easily could have decided to ride off into the sunset.

After all, the core group from the Royals' World Series teams of 2014-15 was leaving through free agency, and the front office was looking at taking a different approach toward the club's on-field future. And, of course, Yost also was recovering from his gruesome, near-fatal fall from a tree stand last November.

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Royals manager Ned Yost had every reason to pack it in over the offseason. Even though his contract runs through the end of this season, he easily could have decided to ride off into the sunset.

After all, the core group from the Royals' World Series teams of 2014-15 was leaving through free agency, and the front office was looking at taking a different approach toward the club's on-field future. And, of course, Yost also was recovering from his gruesome, near-fatal fall from a tree stand last November.

But Yost is back on his feet this spring and fully embracing the Royals' youth movement. He doesn't like to discuss anything beyond this season.

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"I don't want to talk about coming back or retiring," Yost said. "I'll be here today and I'll be here tomorrow."

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For now, Yost admits he is enjoying the beginnings of a new era in Royals baseball. He watches a camp full of eager prospects vying to show off their skill sets, and he smiles.

"It is fun for me," Yost said. "I don't know if it's more fun, but it's fun. Well, maybe a little more fun."

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In recent years, Spring Training for the Royals was about getting his established players ready for Opening Day. Camp battles were virtually non-existent.

"We had maybe one spot in the bullpen open," Yost said. "Maybe a utility guy. That's it."

Now, there are numerous camp battles. And there are numerous potential lineups to ponder.

"There's a lot more competition," Yost said. "And it's evident in how they're playing. These guys are working their butts off."

In some ways, it reminds Yost of his early days managing the Royals in 2011-12, before the World Series years.

"Just for a second," he said. "But I know we're better off than we were then."

The Royals have younger players like Cheslor Cuthbert, Jorge Bonifacio and Jorge Soler, who have had success at the big league level, ready to take on full-time roles.

"And the group of pitchers we have can throw strikes," Yost said. "Back then I don't know of a whole lot of strikes that were being thrown."

The talent level of this new group of Royals seems to have Yost energized. But again, he's not thinking beyond this season.

"I don't think I'll do this another 10 years," Yost said. "But I love it and I love the people I work with."

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

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