At camp, KC's crown defense officially begins

At camp, KC's crown defense officially begins

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Pitchers and catchers reported to camp for the World Series champion Royals on Thursday.

But for many Royals regulars, the road to defending their title began days ago here.

On Wednesday, for example, a sprinkling of Royals threw soft toss on an open practice field during a voluntary workout, from right-handers Yordano Ventura and Kelvin Herrera to left-hander Brian Flynn. Left-hander Jason Vargas, rehabbing from Tommy John surgery last August, also was seen playing catch with trainer Nick Kenney.

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Several other Royals took the infield, including second basemen Omar Infante and Christian Colon, who will dive into the their only starting position battle this spring when the full squad reports on Monday. Also on hand were first baseman Eric Hosmer and third baseman Mike Moustakas.

Catcher Salvador Perez, the reigning World Series MVP, took a turn in the batting cage, as did newcomer Travis Snider, a former first-round pick of the Blue Jays who signed as a free agent on Jan. 30.

And, of course, there was the always spirited first-base coach Rusty Kuntz barking out orders and shouting out "Player!" to every familiar face he saw.

"Must be that time of year!" one player barked back.

Most of the Royals already have made an appearance here, having had their photos and videos taken for the Crown Vision scoreboard back at Kauffman Stadium.

While Thursday was the official report day for pitchers and catchers, manager Ned Yost indicated it will be a light day for most everyone. The first real workout will be Friday.

Still, a few more Royals appeared Thursday on the practice fields, such as closer Wade Davis and possible Opening Day starter Edinson Volquez, for a little soft toss. Outfielder Jarrod Dyson showed up to work on some drills with Kuntz.

All the pitchers will be on the fields Friday, including several new faces that pitching coach Dave Eiland is eager to see, particularly right-hander Dillon Gee.

"He could be this year's version of Chris Young," Eiland said.

Yost, however, said he doesn't have anyone in particular he's overly curious to see.

"Nobody right now," Yost said. "I go into Spring Training with an open mind. Experience has taught me over the course of the spring we're going to have a surprise or two, someone you didn't expect. Last year it was Ryan Madson and Joe Blanton. I don't really put too much expectation into it."

Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.