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Royals defense in spotlight for playoff hopes

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 24, 2014 at 5:29 pm •  Published: February 24, 2014

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — If defense wins championships, the Kansas City Royals could end their 29-year playoff drought.

In 2013, the Royals had three Gold Glove winners — first baseman Eric Hosmer, catcher Salvador Perez and left fielder Alex Gordon — for the first time in their history.

From 1990-2010, the Royals had only two Gold Glove winners, outfielder Jermaine Dye (2000) and second baseman Mark Grudzielanek (2006).

Gordon, who came up as a third baseman and did not shift to the outfield until 2010, has won three straight Gold Gloves in left. The last Royal to win three or more consecutive Gold Gloves was second baseman Frank White, who won six in a row from 1977-82.

"I just truly believe one year we're going to have four and five Gold Glove winners," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "When you get three on one team, that's phenomenal. When I sit back and say five, am I crazy? No, I don't think so. I just really think we've got the capability of doing it."

He mentioned center fielder Lorenzo Cain, who finished second in the balloting last year, shortstop Alcides Escobar and third baseman Mike Moustakas as potential Gold Glove winners.

The Royals had an AL best 3.45 ERA in 2013, which Yost said goes hand-in-hand with the tough defense.

Jeremy Guthrie, who won a career high 15 games last season, opted to return to the Royals after declaring for free agency after 2012.

"I love the defense," Guthrie said. "It's a huge reason I wanted to come back. It's a huge reason I've had the success pitching here. It's never anything you can discount much. The defense helps the pitching staff."

Hosmer became the first first baseman in franchise history to earn a Gold Glove. He saves his other infielders errors, a tall 6-foot-4 athletic target that not only can leap to catch high tosses but also digs out throws in the dirt.

"That's a big part," Hosmer said. "I want to make the other infielders feel as comfortable as possible because in this game a play can be decided in less than a second. That can be the difference in them thinking about throwing it and rather than just turning and throwing it."

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