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5 things to know about the Kansas City Royals heading into spring training

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Five things to know about the Kansas City Royals as they start spring training camp:

ROTATION ROLES: The top of the Royals rotation is set with James Shields, recently signed Jason Vargas and Jeremy Guthrie. Beyond that, questions abound. Veteran left-hander Bruce Chen is expected to get first crack at one of the jobs, but the final spot is up for grabs among Yordano Ventura, Danny Duffy, Brad Penny, Wade Davis and Luke Hochevar.

"I want to give everyone a fair chance at it," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We'll look at everyone and see where they fit. That's the beauty of spring training."

ROYAL TIGER: The Royals signed second baseman Omar Infante to a $32 million, four-year deal in free agency, filling their most glaring need. As a bonus, Infante won't be able to wreak havoc against Kansas City anymore. He hit .375 against the Royals last season.

"Everybody has faced Infante a bit," said Davis, who also faced him when he pitched for the Rays. "He's one of the tougher outs. We can all agree with that."

BRUTAL BULLPEN: Kansas City returns intact one of the most dominant bullpens in baseball, headlined by All-Star closer Greg Holland. The hard-throwing right-hander emerged as one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball, going 2-1 with a 1.21 ERA and 47 saves last season.

"In my opinion we've had the best bullpen in baseball the last few years," reliever Aaron Crow said, "and I just think we can keep getting better."

MOOSE IS LOOSE: Third baseman Mike Moustakas played winter ball in Venezuela in the hopes of rediscovering his swing. Once considered a cornerstone of the franchise's future, Moose hit just .233 with 12 homers and 42 RBIs last season. But he believes an off-season of working with hitting coach Pedro Grifol — along with getting in better shape — will pay off in a big way.

"We tried to adjust a few things, but nothing too crazy," Moustakas said. "Still the same swing, still try to drive the ball and do some damage."

BIG EXPECTATIONS: The Royals haven't made the post-season since winning the 1985 World Series, but they made a big step last season by hanging around until the final week of September. And after a solid off-season in which they filled some of their biggest holes, the Royals believe they can challenge Detroit and Cleveland for a division title.

"We're expected to compete, man, and if you're going to win the American League Central, you're going to have to take it from the Tigers," designated hitter Billy Butler said. "We realize they're the best team in the Central, but I feel like the central as a whole has become tougher."

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