Left-handed pitcher Travis Wood signed with the Royals just as spring training was opening in mid-February. Now, as spring training ends, he says his greatest takeaway from it is how the players are there for one another.
“Everybody pulls for each other, and it’s a true team,” Wood said of the Royals. “Everybody likes each other. We all get along, and when we’re out there, you can see people pulling for each other and backing people up.”
Royals manager Ned Yost said the team-as-family dynamic begins with Royals general manager Dayton Moore and includes Yost as well as the scouts.
“I think our culture is very important … to care for each other and be a good teammate,” Yost said. “We do a lot of homework on that when we bring guys over.”
Yost said Wood, who came from the Cubs, fits in with the team’s culture “very, very nicely.”
For upwards of two months in spring training, the Royals players have gotten to know each other better and have furthered their relationships, all the while focusing on their individual games.
Infielder Whit Merrifield said his biggest takeaway from spring training is that he’s happy with how he is playing.
“(At) this point you just want to be feeling good about your game going into the season,” Merrifield said. “That’s where I am. As spring (has) gone on, you work on certain things and try to get to the point where you feel good about your game, and I feel good about my game right now.
“You try to get your timing right,” Merrifield added. “You try to put the barrel on the ball as much as you can and get back to the rhythm of picking up the ball ... just get back to getting reps in on defense and at the plate. That’s pretty much what spring (is) for, and that’s where it is right now.
“Whether it’s a spring training game or the season, the goal every day … when you walk out in between those lines, it’s to win the game. It’s the kind of atmosphere that is in this clubhouse, and, hopefully, we can do a little better job this year of getting some wins.”
Shelby Hyde is a reporter for Cronkite News at Arizona State University