Royals infielder Christian Colon spent part of the offseason putting down roots in Kansas City.
Colon bought a house in 2016, helped with a toy drive around Christmas and delivered presents to kids of families in need in Kansas City.
Although he went to high school and college in California, the Puerto Rico-born Colon now happily calls Kansas City home.
“I love it,” Colon said. “It’s a great community, a great city. I wish I could stay there forever. Hopefully we can work that out.”
The 2017 season, and this spring training in particular, will go a long way toward determining whether that happens.
Colon is part of the one position battle taking place this spring. Royals manager Ned Yost said the team could open the season with a rotation at second base, with Colon, Whit Merrifield, Cheslor Cuthbert and Raul Mondesi in the mix to see time there.
Merrifield and Mondesi have options and can be sent to the minor leagues without being claimed by another team. The same is not true of Cuthbert and Colon.
That means Colon, the fourth overall pick in the 2010 draft, could see his tenure with the Royals end sooner rather than later.
“He’s out of options, he needs to make the major-league team, but CC, he’s having a really good spring,” general manager Dayton Moore said. “As we all know, he’s been a big part of our success as an organization with arguably two of the most important hits over the last couple of years. He’s getting a chance to play a lot of different positions on the infield, which is important for his versatility and how Ned wants to utilize the players, but he’s done well.”
In a way, Colon’s career path has been backward.
He’s already lived out every kid’s dream by being a playoff hero — twice over, actually. But he’s never been able to stick with the Royals for a full season.
Colon had an RBI and scored the game-winning run in the epic 2014 Wild Card Game against the A’s. The following year, his RBI single in the 12th inning of Game 5 of the World Series gave the Royals the lead against the Mets, and two days later, Colon was riding in the back of a pickup for the parade.
A repeat of that November day is certainly the goal, but Colon is also eager to show he can be a regular contributor during the season. In three seasons with the Royals, Colon has played a total of 118 games and never more than 54 in one season.
To that end, Colon worked out in the offseason with teammate Alex Gordon, whose fitness is legendary in Kansas City.
“We just got in there early every day and did a lot of agility stuff before we even worked out,” Colon said. “Then we worked on strength and just really getting after it. Getting ready for 162 games.
“He taught me a lot. He and his trainer taught me how to go about it on an everyday basis and kind of listen to your body and what you need. It was a very good offseason.”
Although camp is just a few weeks old, Yost has noticed a difference, saying Colon has shown better speed on the bases and better range on the infield and going back on pop flies.
Colon said the better range of movement should help at more than just second base.
“I think it’s beneficial for me to be able to move quick around the bases and be agile on the infield, playing defense,” Colon said. “Playing second, short and third, I’ve got to be able to move well.”
While there is competition at second base, and Colon is well aware that he is out of options, he’s not putting extra pressure on himself.
“It’s about winning,” Colon said. “When I concentrate on winning, I become a better player, but when I concentrate on me, things don’t go the way they should go. It’s about winning. I feel happy. I feel great out there. We’ve got a great group of guys here.”
It’s a group he hopes to stay with this season.