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Royals start spring optimistic about playoffs

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 14, 2014 at 6:43 pm •  Published: February 14, 2014

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — James Shields entered Kansas City's camp on Friday wearing a shirt with "Propaganda" written on the front.

As the Royals begin spring training and aim to end a 29-year-old playoff drought since winning the 1985 World Series, the pitcher hopes to send a message.

"The Royals' propaganda, I think we're going to have a really good spring training," Shields said. "I'm real excited to be here and get going. Hopefully, we can continue doing what we did at the end of the year last year."

"We're in high spirits. We've got a lot of work to do. I think spring training is where it all starts. Our main goal this year is to go to the playoffs and win the World Series, bottom line. We don't take anything for granted."

The Royals went 86-76 in 2013, their first winning season since 2003 and their most victories since John Wathan managed the 1989 club to a 92-70 record.

Kansas City remained in the chase for a wild-card playoff berth until the last week. The Royals finished 5½ games behind Tampa Bay for the final spot.

"I think our players were able to have some quality experience of being in a pennant race," general manager Dayton Moore said.

The Royals lost 20 of 28 in May and were six games below .500 at the All-Star game. They went 43-27 after the break.

"Credit Ned (Yost) and the coaching staff, getting through that tough time and getting the ship righted," Moore said. "It was predicated primarily on our pitching and defense. I think that quality experience allowed them (to) hopefully understand the rhythm of the major leagues, kind of the ups and downs."

The Royals welcomed 31 pitchers and six catchers, including All-Star and Gold Glove winner Salvador Perez, to the opening of spring training on Friday.

Although the reporting date for position players is not until Wednesday, several are already working out, including a pair of 2013 Gold Glove winners, left fielder Alex Gordon and first baseman Eric Hosmer.

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