MLB.com Columnist

Megan Zahneis

Fuentes vying for Opening Night roster spot

With Dyson likely to start season on DL, outfielder serious candidate to break camp with Royals

Fuentes vying for Opening Night roster spot

For Reymond Fuentes, it's all in the family.

The center fielder, who is vying for the chance to break camp with the Royals and went 3-for-4 with two RBIs in Kansas City's 7-6 loss to the Indians on Wednesday, certainly boasts baseball in his blood.

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His father, Pedro Fuentes, played Double-A ball in Puerto Rico, and on his mother's side, Fuentes has a second cousin who knows a thing or two about the game.

That cousin's name? Carlos Beltran.

Fuentes, who has fond childhood memories of watching Beltran play at Kauffman Stadium in the early 2000s, hopes he'll get to pay his cousin a visit when the Royals visit Beltran's Yankees in early May.

Fuentes is on the Royals' 40-man roster and is competing for an outfield spot on the 25-man for Opening Night, with Jarrod Dyson likely to start the season on the disabled list. Fuentes played Rookie-level and Class A ball for the Red Sox, who selected him in the first round of the 2009 Draft, before being flipped to the Padres the next year in the blockbuster Adrian Gonzalez trade (which also shipped Anthony Rizzo to San Diego).

Fuentes spent the next four years bouncing around the Padres' farm system, playing 23 games for the big league squad in 2013, and then he found himself in camp with the Royals in spring 2015 after being traded again.

After all of that -- seven years bouncing around the Minor Leagues -- this spring has added meaning for Fuentes, who for the first time is a serious Opening Night roster candidate.

He's trying not to read too much into it, but the Florida native has made a strong case for himself this spring, hitting .429 and ranking in the top 10 among Royals in runs, hits, homers, RBIs, average, OBP, OPS and slugging percentage.

"I do have my expectations; I don't add pressure [on myself] because that would just sink you," Fuentes said. "At the last moment, it's their decision what to do with each player, so I'll leave that choice for them, but I'll give them reasons to make the team, to help the team win."

That doesn't mean a demotion wouldn't be hard to stomach.

"If I go back to the Minors, I'll just take it as nothing special," Fuentes said. "I'll just keep doing what I was doing up here because I'm pretty satisfied with what I'm doing here. But, I mean, it will hurt because every player's dream is to make the Opening Day roster. And I think if I do, then I'll just keep playing ball and just not worry about it because eventually I'm going to keep on giving them reasons to make the right decision and give me the opportunity."

And if he does get that opportunity, Fuentes reckons, he'll have some pretty special memories ahead of him, beginning with a call to Pedro Fuentes. Tears, he said, would be shed on both ends of the line.

"My dad was the first person to put a bat in my hand, when I was 4 years old, and then ever since, he's kept pushing me and giving me the support to be a good baseball player," Fuentes explained. "He has a lot to do with my career. Even still, growing up, he still teaches me things in the offseason -- we go hit together, we work out together, he goes to my games and tells me what I'm doing wrong, and the next day we're at the cage fixing it.

"I'm trying to make the team so I can call him and share tears of joy with him. I can't wait for that day to come -- if it's not this year, it's probably next year."

Megan Zahneis is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.