SURPIRSE, Ariz. -- One of the biggest surprises of the Royals' 2016 season was the emergence of outfielder Paulo Orlando.In his age-30 season, the late-blooming Orlando had his breakout year, playing in 128 games, hitting .302 and smacking 24 doubles.Combine that with his superb outfield play, and Orlando had every
SURPIRSE, Ariz. -- One of the biggest surprises of the Royals' 2016 season was the emergence of outfielder Paulo Orlando.
In his age-30 season, the late-blooming Orlando had his breakout year, playing in 128 games, hitting .302 and smacking 24 doubles.
Combine that with his superb outfield play, and Orlando had every reason to think he might compete for a starting job in the outfield this spring.
That notion vanished at the Winter Meetings, when the Royals traded closer Wade Davis to the Cubs for outfielder Jorge Soler.
"It was surprising to see Wade leave, because he's so good," Orlando said. "But we know Soler is a good player with power, and a good arm. Everything is fine. We do what we can to get back to the playoffs."
Orlando insists he wasn't upset knowing his chance to start vanished with the Soler deal.
"No, I don't think about that, because I know the Royals are always looking for good players to help the team," Orlando said. "They're trying to get us back to the playoffs again. All I can do is look for my opportunity."
Still, after last season, thoughts of starting must have danced through Orlando's head, right?
"Sometimes you think about that," Orlando said. "But then again, you have to wait for your opportunity. Your opportunity will come, and you have to be ready. I'll do my best. It's nothing different than last year.
"Last year, a couple guys got hurt and I got in. I [platooned] with [Jarrod] Dyson, got at-bats that way. We'll see what happens this year. First, I have to make the roster."
Actually, making the roster would seem to be a foregone conclusion for Orlando. Manager Ned Yost likely will use Orlando, if nothing else, as a late-inning defensive replacement on days he doesn't start.
But Orlando isn't assuming any of that.
"I know I still have options left to play in the Minors," Orlando said.
Minors? It seems highly unlikely Orlando will end up there.
"Hey, you never know," Orlando said, smiling. "But I try not to think about it. It's a new year. Every year is different. Hopefully I stay on the roster again."
Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.