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Royals like options for utility infield spot

Incumbent Torres, veteran Goins waging spirited competition this spring
MLB.com @FlannyMLB

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It may not be the sexiest battle in Royals camp. But the battle for the utility infielder role this spring may be the most competitive.

In one corner is 25-year-old switch-hitting Ramon Torres, who held the job for the Royals in the second half of 2017, hitting .243 over 33 games while playing a strong defense.

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It may not be the sexiest battle in Royals camp. But the battle for the utility infielder role this spring may be the most competitive.

In one corner is 25-year-old switch-hitting Ramon Torres, who held the job for the Royals in the second half of 2017, hitting .243 over 33 games while playing a strong defense.

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Spring Training information

In the other corner is 30-year-old Ryan Goins, a left-handed-hitting veteran who played in 143 games for Toronto last season and brings experience -- even postseason experience.

Who has the edge? Royals manager Ned Yost thinks it's neck and neck.

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"I think [Torres] has been doing a good job," Yost said. "Goins is doing a good job. I like what I've seen from both."

Offensively, Torres and Goins are virtually even this spring: Torres is 6-for-14 with two doubles while Goins is 6-for-13 with a triple. Both have been solid in the infield, moving among shortstop, second base and third base.

Yost knows what he has in Torres.

"My opinion hasn't changed much from last year," Yost said. "But I know he had a good winter and he's been good here."

Yost said there is some value to Goins' Major League experience.

"But I don't value it as much as you think," Yost said. "I'm looking for production. I'm looking for versatility.

"But it helps with the success he's had in Toronto, just from the experience level. You know, been there, done that. I've been impressed with his ability to play all three positions.

"And it has been good to see him on a longer look than just two or three games like when he was with Toronto."

Video: Goins, Yost on what Goins can add to the Royals

Goins, of course, is motivated, having been non-tendered by the Blue Jays after five seasons in Toronto.

"It was shocking to get non-tendered," Goins said. "I went through a couple days of hurt. You have bad intent. But you get over it. It's a first-class organization.

"And now I'm here. This is a great opportunity. I like how these guys play, having played against them in the regular season and in the playoffs. Similar to Toronto."

Yost also is intrigued by two other players on the fringe of the competition -- switch-hitting Erick Mejia, whom the Royals acquired from the Dodgers, and Humberto Arteaga, who has been in the system since 2011.

"Mejia has been very impressive at first look," Yost said. "Young, athletic middle infielder that can switch-hit. Very pleased with what I've seen from him.

"But really, I've been happy with what I've seen with all of them."

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

Kansas City Royals, Ryan Goins, Ramon Torres