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Gore has plenty of competition for fastest Royal

Hamilton, Merrifield, Mondesi should give returning speedster run for his money
MLB.com @FlannyMLB

KANSAS CITY -- Now that Terrance Gore officially is a Royal again, he knew the question was coming: Is he the fastest player on the team?

The debate isn't about Jarrod Dyson, Lorenzo Cain or Paulo Orlando being faster any more, as it was years ago. The new competition is Billy Hamilton, Whit Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi.

KANSAS CITY -- Now that Terrance Gore officially is a Royal again, he knew the question was coming: Is he the fastest player on the team?

The debate isn't about Jarrod Dyson, Lorenzo Cain or Paulo Orlando being faster any more, as it was years ago. The new competition is Billy Hamilton, Whit Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi.

Who is the fastest Royal now?

"Oh man, here we go again," Gore told MLB.com by phone. "It's just like a few years ago. Who's the fastest? I don't know.

"I do know that if we ever raced like in Spring Training or something, and someone got hurt … oh, boy. Someone's in a lot of trouble then. So I don't think we'll ever know."

Can KC steal 250 bags in 2019? Whit thinks so

MLB.com's Statcast™ could provide some answers, though Gore hasn't had enough Major League playing time to qualify for the Sprint Speed Leaderboard. He has had numerous runs faster than the 30-feet-per-second elite mark, though.

On average, Hamilton has a 30.1 feet per second sprint speed, with Mondesi at 29.9 and Merrifield at 29.0.

Video: SD@CIN: Hamilton swipes second for 30th steal of 2018

"I think eventually Statcast™ will have to settle the issue," Gore said.

Gore is intrigued by the notion of being teammates with Hamilton, who for years has been considered the elite of the elite in terms of speed. But as he gauges speed, Gore notes there are different types.

"I'm like fast right off the bat," Gore said. "My first two or three steps is as fast as I'm going to get. I actually get slower the longer it is. I used to hate running the 60 in high school because I could feel myself slowing down after about 50 yards.

"Mondesi, he gets faster the longer he runs. I don't know who is faster after about 15-20 yards than him. I've never seen Billy run really in person, so I don't know. I know he is really fast, too. Like I said, I guess it comes down to Statcast™."

Video: CLE@KC: Mondesi swipes 2 bases to key rally in 10th

Gore is anxious for Spring Training to start so he can work with Hamilton.

"What I like about Billy -- and I'm going to pick his brain about this -- but when he takes a lead, he never really stops," Gore said. "He's always kind of leaning or moving toward second. When I get my lead, I kind of squat. So I'm definitely going to be picking his brain."

Gore should get plenty of chances at stealing bases. Royals officials believe he could get on base 100 times or so this season, primarily as a pinch-runner. Their analytics people think that could translate into about 70 steals.

"I don't ever come into a game thinking I'm just going to steal second base," Gore said. "I have the intention of stealing second and third. So yeah, the math is right. Give me 100 chances, I should steal that 70, at least."

Gore's reunion with the Royals was somewhat surprising. The Royals traded him to the Cubs in August, he stole a base for the Cubs in the Wild Card Game against Colorado, and he was granted free-agency in November.

Video: NL WC: Gore swipes second base in the 8th inning

There was interest in Gore last fall from the Cubs, Yankees and especially the Rays.

"My agent thought Tampa Bay was set in stone for whatever reason," Gore said. "And I live in [Florida], so it seemed nice, the idea of training down there. But then out of the blue before the Winter Meetings I got a text from [Royals assistant general manager] Scott Sharp."

Gore relayed the message to his agent, and the motion started toward a reunion.

"But then the Winter Meetings come and I see the Royals signed Billy Hamilton," Gore said. "So I just thought, 'Well, that's that. Game over.'"

But the Royals assured Gore the plan was still on. They wanted him. And he wanted nothing more than to come back to Kansas City.

"I talked to my wife about it and my agent, and they asked what place I would feel most comfortable with, and I said without hesitation 'Kansas City,'" Gore said. "I mean, the Royals drafted me, developed me, stuck with me. That's home."

Soon after he signed, the text messages from old friends started pouring in, including one from former coach and base-running instructor Rusty Kuntz, now a Royals roving instructor, that simply read, "Well, that didn't take long."

"I see the plan that [Kansas City general manager] Dayton [Moore] is doing," Gore said. "Nothing really scares opponents like speed. You can see it in their eyes. You can sense it. It's the pitcher, the catcher, the infielders; they can all sense that something disruptive is coming. That changes games."

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

Kansas City Royals, Terrance Gore, Billy Hamilton, Adalberto Mondesi