After the Kansas City Royals were finally ousted by the San Francisco Giants in a dramatic World Series, closing the book on their first postseason appearance in nearly three decades, General Manager Dayton Moore began the grueling task of retooling. He began by identifying a couple of players who could provide some pop to the middle of the Kansas City lineup.
One was Kendrys Morales, who would take over for departed free agent Billy Butler. The other was Alex Rios, who will handle right field in place of light-hitting Nori Aoki.
"I feel like we're more complete now in a lot of ways," Moore said.
Of course, the small-market Royals are not throwing away their winning formula from last season. Rather, Moore hopes that the bats augment the rest of the lineup.
Morales once hit 34 homers in a season with the Angels, and had back-to-back 20-homer seasons a couple of years ago. And despite getting a late start on last season that threw his timing off and limited him to 98 games, including 39 with the Twins, he still managed to send nine out of the ballpark.
That's the same number of homers that Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer had all year.
Rios is the quintessential case of risk-reward. The two-time All-Star has had some big years as well as some baffling ones. Last year he hit .280 for Texas but only had four home runs as he dealt with a series of injuries.
"I played through the second half of the season with two injuries, actually," Rios said. "… I believe it did affect me. I didn't want to use it as an excuse, but I really believe it affected my performance during the second half."
• Brad Hand needed only nine pitches in a perfect first inning for the Miami Marlins, who beat Florida International 7-2. Hand, a 2008 second-round pick out of Chaska High School, is out of out of minor league options and likely will be traded if he fails to earn a spot in the Marlins bullpen.
• Chicago media members were led on a tour of the bowels of Wrigley Field on Monday, an area that has become a forest of beams and pipes on a dirt floor amid a massive renovation of the majors' second-oldest ballpark. Officials said only the left field and center field bleachers will open in May. The right-field bleachers won't be open until June.
• Jeff McKnight, a versatile player who was with the New York Mets and Baltimore Orioles from 1989 to 1994, died at age 52. McKnight's family told the Mets that he died Sunday after having leukemia for 10 years. Mostly an infielder, he played every position in the majors except center field and pitcher.