SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — Zack Greinke, the 2009 American League Cy Young award winner, is not resting on his laurels.
Greinke, who led the majors with a 2.16 earned run average while posting a 16-8 record last season, was among the early arrivals Friday as the Kansas City Royals opened spring training with a mini-camp.
It was labeled a voluntary camp and pitchers and catchers are not scheduled to report until Wednesday. But Greinke's attendance sent a message. The Royals are trying to get a head start after finishing last in the American League Central for the fifth time in the past six seasons.
Greinke was not the only high profile Royal to show up. Closer Joakim Soria, a 2008 All-Star who has logged 72 saves the past two seasons, and first baseman Billy Butler, who led the team with a .301 average, 51 doubles and 93 RBIs in 2009, also were in camp.
Manager Trey Hillman has already named Greinke his starter for the April 5 opener against Detroit. Gil Meche, the opening day starter the past three seasons, will pitch the second game.
The rest of the rotation will take shape in spring training. The candidates include Luke Hochevar, the first overall pick in the 2006 draft, Brian Bannister, Kyle Davies and Robinson Tejeda. Davies, Bannister and Meche all ended the season on the disabled list with right shoulder ailments.
"All the guys we had that finished last year on the DL are projected to be healthy," Hillman said. "We won't baby them, but we will monitor them closely because they did finish on the DL. We've got to build them up. We've got to build everybody's innings up."
Tejeda went 3-1 with a 2.84 ERA in six September starts after going 1-1 with a 4.07 ERA in 29 relief appearances.
"I'm not counting Robby out," Hillman said. "I thought he did an outstanding job. We're going into spring training to build his innings up,"
Kyle Farnsworth, who has been exclusively a reliever since making five starts in 2000 with the Chicago Cubs, will enter camp as a rotation candidate. So will Edgar Osuna, the only left-hander in the group.
"We've got what we've got and it's mostly from the right side," Hillman said. "I'd love to have two or three lefties in there."
Alex Gordon, who has failed to live up to expectations after being the second player selected in the 2005 draft, was among the first-day camp arrivals. Gordon, who was limited to 49 games after having hip surgery in April, will have competition at third base this spring from Josh Fields.
"I would put Gordon's name probably at the top of the list," Hillman said. "He's coming off major surgery. I know he came back last year. I know he's a great worker and everybody is waiting for him to breakout so to speak. But I'm not going to discount Josh Fields' ability and count him out of the mix there."
Fields and second baseman Chris Getz, who were acquired in a trade with the Chicago White Sox for Mark Teahen, and outfielder Brian Anderson were among the new Royals at the mini-camp. In all, there were 19 position players taking batting practice Friday.
Bill Fischer, a Royals pitching coordinator, watched intently as pitchers threw off the mound and offered advice. Fischer pitched nine years in the majors, 1956-64, and had been coaching ever since. It is his 63rd year in professional baseball.
How many spring trainings for Fischer?
"Quite a few, since 1948," he replied.
It is the first pro spring training for left-hander Noel Arugelles, a Cuban defector who turned 20 last month.