Colon making strong impression this spring

Colon making strong impression this spring

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Not long after Royals second baseman Christian Colon doubled in his first Spring Training at-bat on Sunday, he was greeted in the dugout by his offseason workout partner, Alex Gordon.

"See, all that hard work is already paying off," Gordon told him. "What did it take you last year to get your first hit? Twenty-two at-bats?"

Actually, it took 24 at-bats last spring before Colon got his first hit.

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"[Gordon's] right," Colon said, smiling. "That hard work is paying off."

Colon worked out all winter with Gordon back in Kansas City and lost close to 10 pounds while also strengthening his core muscles and improving his agility.

"I feel lighter and quicker," Colon said.

That already has transition to his game on the field. Colon's hit on Sunday was in the left-center gap but not deep. Still, Colon stretched it into a double when he just beat the throw into second base.

And, Colon slipped a bit coming out of the box, but he still beat the throw to second.

"Last year, that's a single," Colon said. "I don't even try going for two."

Colon, 27, is in a fight for the starting job at second base with Whit Merrifield, Raul Mondesi and possibly Cheslor Cuthbert. Colon was determined to give himself the best chance possible to win the job, which fueled his decision to work out with Gordon in the offseason.

"It is a big year for me," said Colon, who is out of options. "I want to prove to everyone I can contribute to helping this team win. That's what it's all about."

Colon's physical condition has caught the eye of manager Ned Yost.

"Without a doubt," Yost said. "He's moving around better. Looks like he is in the best shape I've seen him."

Colon has noticed the change in the field as well.

"I definitely feel quicker and more agile," Colon said. "I feel like I can get lower on ground balls and stay lower for a longer amount of time. That's the key to fielding ground balls. The longer you can stay lower, the better chance you have of fielding some bad hops."

Colon also turned a slick double play on Sunday, throwing across his body as he moved across the second-base bag to barely nip the runner at first.

"I think that's where all the core conditioning comes in," Colon said. "You need that core to make those throws. I really do feel good. I just have to keep doing my job now."

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.