As starter or off bench, Dyson will play hard for Royals
Being everyday player is outfielder's goal, but he'll do what club asks
By Jeffrey Flanagan
KANSAS CITY -- Part of the reason the Royals were an astounding 72-1 when leading after seven innings last year was not just their sterling bullpen -- they also boasted a shutdown outfield late in games.
And backup outfielder Jarrod Dyson was a major component in that outfield as a late-game defensive replacement for right fielder Nori Aoki (Dyson would replace Lorenzo Cain in center, with Cain shifting to right).
With Dyson in the game, the Royals had three players who combined for a plus-65 in the defensive metric of runs saved. Dyson (plus-14), Cain (plus-24) and Alex Gordon (plus-27) were simply as good as it gets.
But with the Royals' acquisition of Alex Rios to take over for Aoki in right field, Dyson's late-game defensive role could fade. Although Rios' metrics weren't good last year (minus-3 in runs saved), the Royals believe Rios has the range and arm strength to do the job. That could reduce Dyson's role to that of just a late-game pinch-runner.
"I can't really speak for what the team wants to do," Dyson said. "I just go and do whatever my job description is and play that role.
"As far as me, I still want to play every day. That's my goal. My goal isn't to come and back guys up.
"But right now, I'll just come in when they ask me and play hard. We're all one big family. But at the end of the day, you want a starting job. But I'm glad to have [Rios] aboard."
Is Dyson concerned that his playing time will diminish?
"If [Royals manager] Ned [Yost] wants me to come in and play defense or steal bags, I'll do whatever," he said. "I just try to get the job done. I love getting the job done. Anything I can do to help."
The Royals certainly will find ways to utilize Dyson's speed. He led the team in steals in 2014 (36), and his blazing speed is part of the team's offseason marketing campaign.
"Our goal is to get better," Dyson said. "Last year was a good year, a stepping stone. We finished on a good note [getting to the World Series]. We still got that nasty taste in our mouth from Game 7, but that just makes us hungrier for this year. We just got to get back to work."
Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jflanagankc. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.