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Yost not ready to define Royals' closer role

Peralta, Boxberger, Hill could all pitch ninth inning
February 13, 2019

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The manner in which Royals manager Ned Yost will utilize his bullpen this season may surprise some fans and observers.While Yost has been a traditionalist in terms of anointing roles, especially in terms of a closer, he may be moving in a different direction."The roles will define

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The manner in which Royals manager Ned Yost will utilize his bullpen this season may surprise some fans and observers.
While Yost has been a traditionalist in terms of anointing roles, especially in terms of a closer, he may be moving in a different direction.
"The roles will define themselves over time," Yost said. "My mindset has been [to go with a] closer in the past. Now, I think more in terms of high-leverage situation. When do you use that guy in high leverage? You need guys comfortable in high-leverage situations, whether it is the seventh or the eighth inning. I'm looking more in terms of that than just have [an anointed] closer."
Yost is content using right-hander Wily Peralta in those situations -- Peralta re-signed with the Royals after going 14-for-14 in save situations last season, albeit some of those saves were a bit hairy.
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"He got the job done," Yost said.
But now that the Royals have signed former D-backs closer Brad Boxberger, Yost will have more options. Yost also trusts left-hander Tim Hill late in games, and it's possible a starter such as Ian Kennedy, Jorge López or Heath Fillmyer who doesn't make the rotation could see time late in games.
"We'll just see how it plays out," Yost said.
Royals Spring Training information
Boxberger finished with 32 saves for Arizona in 2018. But he struggled late in the season. Over a 19-game stretch from late July into September, Boxberger posted an 8.40 ERA and blew four saves, eventually losing his closer's job.
"I think I was just getting a little tired," he said. "It was my first full season after being hurt a couple of years. Basic tiredness. No [injury] problems, no structural issues. Playing a full season takes a toll on your body. I think I learned a lot from it and I'll be ready to go all season here."
Signing with the Royals offers a fresh start.
"There's an opportunity here," Boxberger said. "I don't have an idea what my role will be. It's too early in camp to know and they haven't said anything. ... Ideally, I'd love to close and love the opportunity. But I'll perform whatever role they want me to."

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