SURPRISE, Ariz. - The opening day of spring training always brings excitement to young players like Eric Hosmer.
"I think every year, the first week of spring training there's a lot of excitement. Guys are itching to get back," Hosmer said.
The excitement level at Royals camp has a different feeling this year. The addition of four veteran starters will do that.
Manager Ned Yost is not shying away from the added expectations.
"We've increased our talent level so that we feel that with the caliber of starting pitching we have, we are not going to endure long losing streaks," Yost said.
The Royals should be better – but how much better?
The team won 72 games last season. They will need to jump that total by a minimum of 15 wins to be in playoff contention. Pitcher Bruce Chen said the team is better on paper, but games are not won on paper.
"With the upgrade in the rotation, it definitely feels like we have a much better team, but it's up to us now. We have to go out there and play," Chen said.
Kansas City is still waiting for a couple more reinforcements.
Shortstop Alcides Escobar did not arrive in time for the start of camp. He is working out some visa issues for his wife. Veteran infielder Miguel Tejada also missed the first day. Yost says Tejada became ill on his way to the airport. Yost told Tejada to stay away from camp until he was healthy.