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Peralta comfortable with role in KC's bullpen

MLB.com @FlannyMLB

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Royals manager Ned Yost hasn't made any proclamations about right-hander Wily Peralta's role in 2018.

But with all the spots in the club's rotation taken basically before camp opened, it seemed an obvious conclusion that Peralta, a former starter, was a strong candidate to transition to the bullpen.

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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Royals manager Ned Yost hasn't made any proclamations about right-hander Wily Peralta's role in 2018.

But with all the spots in the club's rotation taken basically before camp opened, it seemed an obvious conclusion that Peralta, a former starter, was a strong candidate to transition to the bullpen.

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The 28-year-old former Brewers pitcher pretty much has made it official, telling MLB.com he views himself now as strictly a reliever.

"Yeah, I finished my last few outings in Milwaukee in the bullpen last season," Peralta said. "I feel like I'm a bullpen guy now. At first it was a hard transition because I've always been a starter. But going to Triple-A last year for a bit helped me with the transition and taught me how to go back to back out of the 'pen."

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Peralta, who signed a one-year, $1.525 million deal with the Royals in the offseason, was once an effective starter. He went 17-11 in 2014, throwing 198 2/3 innings for the Brewers and posting a 3.53 ERA.

But Peralta struggled as a starter in subsequent years, and last year the Brewers eventually pulled him from the rotation. He had a 7.85 ERA in 19 games overall.

But Peralta did get a taste of a new career path when the Brewers sent him to Triple-A Colorado Springs. There, he pitched exclusively out of the bullpen and had a 3.38 ERA in 13 games.

What Peralta liked the most about the bullpen was being able to go all-out with every pitch, rather than conserving energy as a starter would do.

"Out of the bullpen you only have one or two innings so you can let it go," he said. "It's different. You come out of the bullpen and you let it go because you're not saving anything. You're not going deep into the game so you don't have to manage your pitches. Turn it loose."

Peralta said he consistently can hit 96-97 mph out of the bullpen.

"I like it," he said. "It's a lot of fun. And you know you can pitch more often."

Peralta's debut this spring -- one inning, six runs, four earned -- likely scared a few Royals fans.

But Peralta shrugged it off and was solid in both of his next two outings. But he gave up four runs in one inning on Wednesday against the Cubs. However, most of the damage was done on two walks, an infield hit and a soft two-run single to center.

"Always my first one down here there's a little adrenaline going and you get a little wild," he said, smiling. "First outing didn't go the way I wanted it. Every spring the first outing has always been a rough one for me. After that, you just try to get into a rhythm.

"I feel better and better with each outing. In Spring Training you work on certain things, just get your work in and prepare for the season."

Indeed, it's pretty hard to keep a smile off Peralta's face this spring.

"I'm just happy with the opportunity here," he said. "A new page in my career."

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

Kansas City Royals, Wily Peralta