Duensing hopeful new chapter in KC is lasting

Duensing hopeful new chapter in KC is lasting

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- As left-hander Brian Duensing looked around the Royals' clubhouse on Friday morning, he admitted it was a strange feeling.

"I'm kind of like the new kid at school and it's the first day," Duensing said. "I'm trying to remember where I'm going and remember all the names."

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Duensing knows one Royal quite well: He was Alex Gordon's teammate and roommate at the University of Nebraska. And they were in each other's weddings.

"Yeah, but he was a groomsman in mine," Duensing joked, "and I was just an usher in his. What's up with that?"

Still, the two have remained close friends and live close to each other outside of Omaha, Neb.

"Whenever I have a question," Duensing said, "he'll be the first guy I go to."

Duensing, 32, was signed on Thursday to a Minor League deal by the Royals with a Spring Training invite. After a seven-year career with the Twins, he became a free agent after last season. His choice for a new team came down to the Giants and the Royals.

Yost, Royals aim for repeat

Manager Ned Yost wasn't surprised that Duensing chose the Royals.

"People see us and want to play for us," Yost said.

But Duensing may have an uphill struggle to make the Royals. He will be competing with numerous other relievers in camp for one, or possibly two, spots.

It's an unusual feeling for Duensing.

"It's a little different," he said. "I'm kind of interested to see how I'll handle it. The last four or five years I really haven't had to compete for a job. It's a little new to me. But sometimes that's good. A change of scenery can refocus you."

Duensing is coming off a "rough" year in his words. He finished with a 4.25 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP.

"It started terribly with my first stint on the disabled list," he said. "I will try to focus on that I finished strong. That's what I'll take from that year."

Duensing suffered a rib strain early in the season.

"Actually it was against the Royals at our place," Duensing said. "I threw a pitch and it took my breath away."

The other strange part of Duensing's season is that he actually pitched better against right-handed hitters (.235 average) than lefties (.288).

"Last year, I was more of a lefty-right specialist," he said. "Not sure why that was. But I expect that to turn around. And hopefully it will here."

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.