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Gore more than speedy weapon for Royals

Outfielder ready to show he's a complete player this spring
MLB.com @FlannyMLB

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Each year, speedy Royals outfielder Terrance Gore gets a little closer to shedding his image as just a one-dimensional baserunning specialist.

Gore, 26, can't wait for the transformation to be complete.

View Full Game Coverage

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Each year, speedy Royals outfielder Terrance Gore gets a little closer to shedding his image as just a one-dimensional baserunning specialist.

Gore, 26, can't wait for the transformation to be complete.

View Full Game Coverage

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"I feel the confidence growing every year," said Gore, who entered as a pinch-runner in the ninth inning and scored the go-ahead run on Ryan O'Hearn's single in Thursday's 4-3 win over the Mariners. "It's finally coming together. First two or three Spring Trainings here, I was shy. I just kind of looked at what the veterans were doing and stayed quiet.

"But now I'm more mature and ready to show what I can do. Show the whole game."

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In 14 Major League plate appearances, Gore has yet to register a hit. He almost exclusively has had one job -- steal a base as a pinch-runner when called upon. He has done that 21 times in the bigs.

Two years ago, Gore, a career .244 hitter in the Minors, got his first Spring Training hit. A wild celebration went off in the dugout. Then first-base coach Rusty Kuntz even found a batting practice ball and jokingly authenticated it by writing "1st Hit Spring Training 2016" and presented it to Gore.

Players teased that Gore should have changed his uniform number from "0" to "1" after the hit.

"I just see Terrance Gore continuing to grow," manager Ned Yost said. "We wanted to throw a party when he got that first [Spring Training] hit. I wasn't sure he'd ever get a hit. He was all speed back then."

But Gore, who has 272 career steals in the Minors, has bulked up in his upper body over the past year. Last season at Triple-A Omaha, he even belted his first professional home run.

Video: KC@SEA: O'Hearn gives the Royals the lead with single

"No more parties, though," Gore said, smiling.

Gore is developing into a better, more versatile, weapon. He has two hits in three at-bats this spring.

"I want to prove I can get on base by myself," Gore said. "I don't need to just be a pinch-runner."

The roster odds are somewhat stacked against Gore this spring. Jorge Soler, Alex Gordon, Jorge Bonifacio and Paulo Orlando are in the starting outfield rotation. Newcomers Michael Saunders and Tyler Collins provide left-handed bats off the bench or in platoon roles.

Gore insists he's not counting bodies around the clubhouse.

"I'm just going to do my thing and try to help us win," Gore said. "See what happens."

After all, Gore wedged his way onto the Opening Day roster last spring, a surprise to many.

And Gore's chances may have increased a little on Wednesday when his locker neighbor and close friend, outfielder Billy Burns, was designated for assignment.

Gore was crushed over the news.

"I lost my best friend in here," Gore said. "I literally almost stated crying in front of him. We bonded. Our families hung out together. I hope I see him again."

Of course, Gore hopes that reunion won't have to come at Triple-A.

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

Kansas City Royals, Terrance Gore