Strahm seizing opportunity to pitch from 'pen

Strahm seizing opportunity to pitch from 'pen

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- For most of the offseason, the Royals stated publicly that left-hander Matt Strahm would be in the mix for a spot in the rotation.

But that officially changed after the Royals acquired starters Jason Hammel and Travis Wood. Hammel already has a spot secured in the rotation. Wood will compete with right-handers Nathan Karns and Chris Young for the fifth spot.

And Strahm will head straight to the bullpen, where he was lights-out as a rookie in 2016.

Strahm, who posted a 1.23 ERA in 21 outings last August and September, likely will team with Joakim Soria as the primary setup men for closer Kelvin Herrera.

And Strahm is just fine with that.

Strahm's strong relief outing

"It didn't really change anything for me," said Strahm, the Royals' No. 3 prospect. "I knew coming into Spring Training it was going to be one or the other. But now coming into camp, I know for sure and I know what I need to work on."

Instead of being stretched out to 70 or 80 pitches in camp, Strahm likely will be maxed out at 40-50 pitches.

"I don't care when I pitch, I just want to pitch," Strahm said, smiling. "I'll do whatever they want."

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Down the road, manager Ned Yost maintains that Strahm will be a starter. Just not now.

"Absolutely we view him as a starter in the future," Yost said. "But for now, we're better off with him in the bullpen."

Strahm simply will be happy holding on to a spot on the 25-man roster.

"Nothing is for sure yet," Strahm said. "I still have to earn it. Hopefully I can do exactly what I did the last two months last year."

Everyone in camp
The Royals' first official workout was Friday and everyone was in attendance. The last to arrive was shortstop Alcides Escobar.

"There was no special messages for this group," Yost said. "They all know what they have to do."

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.