Herrera welcomes pressure as Royals' closer

Herrera welcomes pressure as Royals' closer

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- New Royals closer Kelvin Herrera thought it'd be a good thing this offseason to check in with former closer Wade Davis, now with the Cubs, on what this full-time gig will be like.

As one might expect, Davis told Herrera he would do just fine.

"Been talking to Wade a lot," Herrera said. "He said I'll be good. Don't worry."

Royals taking it slow with Kennedy, Hammel

Any specific advice Davis had to offer?

"Yeah, he just said throw strikes and it will be all good," Herrera said.

Simple enough. Herrera now will follow in the footsteps of former closer Greg Holland, now with the Rockies, and Davis. It's a job Herrera has been groomed for and one he's honored to have.

"Oh yeah," Herrera said. "No matter what you do in life, you want to be someone that everyone can count on. In every sport, in everything in normal life, you want to make the most of your career. So this is it. You want to be the best. You always want to be a competitor."

Herrera gets the four-out save

Herrera got a taste of it last season when Davis had two stints on the disabled list. Herrera posted a career-high 12 saves with a 2.75 ERA in 72 appearances.

Still, there's a bit more pressure being the last guy in line as opposed to being a seventh- or eighth-inning guy.

"There's always a little pressure in this game," Herrera said. "If you don't do well, you're going to lose the game. So you got to handle it.

"You have more chances to play with if you're pitching in the seventh inning or eighth inning. But I'm ready to do this."

Royals general manager Dayton Moore felt confident enough in Herrera that Moore traded Davis at the Winter Meetings.

"If you have that guy at the end you can count on," Moore said, "you can always build a good bullpen around him. We've got that with Kelvin."

Herrera is ready to handle the load, even though he admitted he got fatigued last September from overuse.

"A little fatigue is good," Herrera said. "That means you're pitching a lot and getting opportunities.

"I'm rested. I'm in good shape. I'm ready to roll."

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