Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Hope in the desert

Posted by: Phil Miller under MLB Updated: February 20, 2011 - 3:20 PM

SURPRISE, ARIZ. -- It doesn't matter where you stop during spring training, hope is in the air.

I caught up with Royals closer Joakim Soria today, and we were talking about the team's attempts to build a winning club around him. They've had just one 70-win season over the past seven years.

"It seems very close," he said of the team's ability to contend. "It seems like it could happen this year."

The Royals are committed to starting Melky Cabrera in center field, despite getting Lorenzo Cain from Milwaukee in the Zack Greinke trade. Cabrera batted .255/.317/.354 for the Braves last year, and Cain batted .306/.348/.415 in 43 games for the Brewers.

Manager Ned Yost noted that Cabrera, 26, had some good years with the Yankees before struggling with Atlanta and noted how hard he worked over the offseason. Cabrera did bat .270 with 36 home runs over four seasons in New York before getting traded. After making $3.1 million last year, he signed with Kansas City for $1.25 million.

"A lot of times, signing a guy revolves around how much money he can get," Yost said. "With Melky, his concern was proving he could come back and play again. The money was secondary, and I think this is a guy who can help us."

Cain, 24, is part of an impressive wave of prospects waiting to make an impact in Kansas City over the next couple years. But for now, the Royals can find optimism, even in their journeymen.

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