Orlando ready to take next step for Royals

Outfielder looking to grab hold of larger role with defending champs

Orlando ready to take next step for Royals

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- As a rookie in 2015, Paulo Orlando surprised almost everyone by sneaking onto the Royals' 25-man roster out of Spring Training.

Then Orlando showed why he belonged, posting a .444 slugging percentage with 14 doubles, six triples and seven home runs in 86 games.

This season, especially with the injury to Jarrod Dyson (oblique strain), Orlando perhaps is poised to fill an even larger role. And the Royals believe that Orlando hasn't even neared his celing.

"Paulo is one of those guys who always does something to help you win a ballgame," manager Ned Yost said. "He might make a great defensive play. He might steal a base. He might get a big hit. He might take an extra base. It's always something."

That is what Orlando strives to do. He is a prototypical Royals outfielder -- fast, athletic and a solid defender.

Orlando knows there are many ways he can help the Royals.

"Oh yeah, sometimes you feel good at the plate," Orlando said. "But sometimes you don't and you have to find a different way to help the team. It might be a good play defensively. Might be stealing a base and scoring a run."

It has been quite a journey for Orlando, 30. After 10 years toiling in the Minors, Orlando became just the third Brazilian to don a Major League uniform -- Yon Gomes and Andre Rienzo were the others. Orlando then became the first Brazilian ever to play in the World Series.

"It's all been pretty special," Orlando said. "I went back to Brazil in the offseason, went to the sports stadiums and everyone was pretty excited to see me."

Orlando doesn't have the same concerns this spring as last: He already has made the team and is vying for a starting role.

But Orlando isn't taking anything for granted.

"I had a long time in the Minor Leagues," Orlando said. "But I still have to work hard, give 100 percent, stay on the team and help the team.

"Sometimes you know what your role is and you're more comfortable. So maybe it is different because I could be starting more. Last year, I'd come in late in games and I may have pressed a little too hard."

If there is one area where Orlando believes he could improve it is with his patience. He walked five times in 251 plate appearances last season.

"I'm still trying to learn," he said. "I'm trying to be more patient at the plate, hopefully I'll have some success and be ready when the season starts. This year I'll try to see more pitches and maybe recognize them better. I hope."

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.