KANSAS CITY -- As it appeared more and more likely in the last week that right-hander Chien-Ming Wang was going to crack the Royals' 25-man roster, the number of reporters from Taiwan interested in the development kept increasing.And prior to the Royals' opener Sunday, about a dozen of those reporters
KANSAS CITY -- As it appeared more and more likely in the last week that right-hander Chien-Ming Wang was going to crack the Royals' 25-man roster, the number of reporters from Taiwan interested in the development kept increasing.
And prior to the Royals' opener Sunday, about a dozen of those reporters from Wang's native land were on hand to hear him speak about making the roster. Wang, 36, has not pitched in the Major Leagues since 2013.
"It's just unreal," Wang told the reporters in Mandarin. "Even now, after I know, it seems unreal to me."
But it's all real. Wang demonstrated a big boost in velocity this spring -- he went from 88-89 mph last year in the Minors to 94-95 mph this spring, an increase he attributed to a mechanical change in his delivery he learned last offseason at the Texas Baseball Ranch.
"He looks like the same guy I had with the Yankees 10 years ago," Royals pitching coach Dave Eiland said.
Manager Ned Yost said it wasn't a tough decision to put Wang on the roster, even though Wang could have been stashed at Triple-A Omaha until his May 1 opt-out date. To make room on the 40-man roster for Wang, the Royals placed left-hander Tim Collins on the 60-day disabled list.
"He outpitched [his competition] and pitched great," Yost said. "As simple as that.
"He'll start out in the bullpen. We really like his sinker. We envision him being a fifth- or sixth- or seventh-inning guy, especially if we need a double play. He's got a lot of action on that sinker."
Wang grabbed one of the final roster spots along with outfielders Terrance Gore and Reymond Fuentes, who made his first Opening Day roster after a solid spring and started in right field Sunday night.
Gore's value is on the bases, and he won a spot, at least temporarily, over Whit Merrifield, a super-utility guy who Yost said played well enough this spring to win a job. But Gore is on the 40-man roster and Merrifield isn't, and the Royals determined it didn't make sense to clear anyone off the 40-man just for a two-week stint -- Jarrod Dyson, out with an oblique strain, will be back in two or so weeks, meaning Gore likely will be headed back to the Minors.
Fuentes came into camp just hoping to make the roster. He now is a starter, though Yost has indicated Paulo Orlando also will see plenty of playing time before Dyson gets back.
"We'll just go day to day," Yost said. "I'm not setting a platoon right now. We'll play Paulo when we feel like it's a good matchup."
Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB.