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Royals sign Morales to Minors deal

Versatile lefty could serve as starter or reliever

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Royals on Thursday night added some potentially needed left-handed depth with the signing of 29-year-old Franklin Morales.

Morales was signed to a Minor League deal with an invite to Spring Training.

Morales had 22 starts last season with Colorado, earning a career-high six wins but posting a shaky 5.37 ERA.

But Royals general manager Dayton Moore said by phone on Thursday night that he expects Morales to compete for a job primarily in the bullpen, which right now houses left-hander Tim Collins and possibly rookie left-hander Brandon Finnegan.

"[Morales] is a very versatile guy who can work out of the 'pen or give us a spot start," Moore said. "We're going to see what we have with him. He's got experience and he knows how to get hitters out. We'll see."

Moore remembers Morales pitching against the Royals last May in a 5-1 Royals victory. Morales went five innings that night and gave up eight hits and four runs.

"He's a guy who could be a situational guy or someone who can go long in relief," Moore said. "We'll just have to see how it plays out. He's healthy and he's a veteran guy who adds to our depth."

Over his eight-year career, left-handers have hit just .213 against Morales.

"He can pitch pretty well against lefties," Moore noted.

Morales could fill the role once occupied by Francisley Bueno, who was not re-signed and is currently a non-roster Spring Training invitee with the Cubs.

Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @jflanagankc.
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