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Royals enjoying run of success, even in spring

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 4, 2013 at 12:03 pm •  Published: March 4, 2013
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GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) — Alex Gordon smiled at the notion that the Kansas City Royals may never lose again.

Sure, it's just spring training, where pitchers often last an inning or two, starters are pulled after three or four, and the outcome of games is usually left in the hands of longshots just trying to find their way onto a major league roster.

But this is also a franchise that hasn't had a winning season in a decade, hasn't finished better than third since 1995 and hasn't been to the playoffs since winning it all in 1985.

So, yes, the Royals are enjoying the fact that they're the only unbeaten team left in spring training. As they headed into a day off Monday, they had won nine straight games since playing to a draw with the Texas Rangers in their opener.

"It's pretty impressive," Gordon said, the Gold Glove outfielder breaking into a grin. "Might as well go out and try to win games like we're doing. Hopefully we can continue it."

Therein lays the problem.

Spring training results don't always translate into regular-season success.

The Royals haven't had a losing spring training since 2007, and have had just two in the last 10 years, yet the best they've done over that span was 83-79 during the 2003 season. Instead, there's been a stretch of three straight 100-loss years and the current run of four straight 90-loss seasons.

They had the best winning percentage in spring training two years ago, at 20-10-1, but wound up with a regular-season record that was better than only four other big league teams.

"This isn't the place to be undefeated," first baseman Eric Hosmer admitted, "but we're playing good. That's all you can ask for, to play the game right."

Hosmer may be onto something there.

While results ultimately don't matter, and spring statistics are skewed by dozens of factors, the fact the Royals are winning at least indicates that they're playing fairly sound baseball.

Third baseman Mike Moustakas, who struggled to a .242 average last season, is 11 for 19 with a homer, three doubles and six RBIs. Hosmer is trying to rebound from a sophomore slump that saw him hit just .232 with 14 homers and 60 RBIs, and is so far 8 for 20 with a homer and seven RBIs.

Even light-hitting second baseman Chris Getz, who has just two career home runs, managed to send a pitch over the wall this spring.

"Results do matter, but everyone's spring training stats are usually higher than they will be," Gordon said, pointing out the fact that most pitchers this early in spring are throwing a steady diet of fastballs and changeups, and won't throw any breaking stuff until later in camp.

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