Kansas City Royals have 4 candidates for second base job

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) Christian Colon spent the offseason training with Kansas City Royal teammate Alex Gordon, who is known for his maniacal workouts.

Colon said he lost 8 percent of his body fat, turning that into muscle.

''He's on another level,'' Colon said Friday before the team's first full-squad workout. ''It was intense.''

So is the Royals' competition for the second base job, the only position up for grabs in spring training. Manager Ned Yost listed four candidates for the job: Whit Merrifield, Cheslor Cuthbert, Raul Mondesi and Colon.

''It's about time,'' Yost said with a laugh after he was asked about Colon joining Gordon for the workouts.

It could be Colon's time, at age 27, to claim a starting job. Colon was the fourth player picked in the 2010 draft and has some memorable postseason hits, but in parts of three major league seasons he has played in 118 games and started in just 78. He hit .231 last season in 54 games.

He wants the everyday job.

''Correct,'' Colon said. ''I definitely want to compete for that job and give it all I've got.''

So does Merrifield.

''It's one I would like to win,'' Merrifield said. ''I put myself in a good position physically and mentally this offseason to compete and hopefully win the job. We have some good players. Whoever wins the job is going to earn it.''

Merrifield started 55 games at second base last year, but he also played first, third, right field and left field. He hit .283 as a rookie.

Merrifield is no slouch in winter workouts, dead lifting a personal-best 540 pounds.

''I'm stronger than people give me credit,'' he said. ''In the offseason, I like to lift heavy weights.''

Cuthbert is the most intriguing of the four. He hit .274 with 12 home runs and 48 RBIs in 128 games. After Mike Moustakas needed season-ending knee surgery, Cuthbert became the everyday third baseman. Moustakas is healthy in spring training and the Royals are experimenting with moving Cuthbert to second base.

The Royals dispatched Cuthbert to the fall instructional league after the season for a crash course at second under the tutelage of infield coordinator Rafael Belliard, who played 17 seasons in the majors. Cuthbert has played only two innings at second base in the majors.

''It is different,'' Cuthbert said. ''The angles are different. The throws are different. There is a lot of movement. At third base, it's just reaction. But I can do it. It just takes more work.''

Mondesi, 21, is the best athlete of the four and with the more upside. In 47 games in the majors last year, he was overmatched at the plate, hitting .185 and striking out 48 times in 135 at-bats.

Cuthbert and Colon are out of minor league options, which means the Royals cannot send them to Triple-A Omaha without clearing waivers.

''We're looking for someone who can field ground balls and turn double plays, and get hits,'' Yost said. ''That's it, that is what we want. We'll go through six weeks of spring training and figure it out.''

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