SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — Lorenzo Cain is always looking over his shoulder during interviews after having so many of them sabotaged by Kansas City Royals teammate Salvador Perez.
“He always catches me off guard,” Cain said Tuesday during a chat that was uninterrupted. “We’ll see what he has planned this season. It will be fun regardless.”
The standout center fielder is coming off his best offensive season. He established career highs with a .307 average, .361 on-base percentage, .477 slugging percentage, 34 doubles, six triples, 16 home runs, 169 hits, 101 runs and 72 RBIs. His 28 stolen bases also matched his season high. He ranked among the American League top five in batting average, run and stolen bases.
Cain, who turns 30 in April and did not play organized baseball until his sophomore year in high school, believes he can put up even better numbers.
“That’s always the plan,” Cain said. “You definitely want to improve each and every year. I feel like I still have room to grow with my game.”
Cain has trained with Oklahoma Sooners baseball conditioning coach Tim Overman the past couple of off-seasons, altering his running stride to prevent injuries. He played in a career-high 140 games last year after injuries limited him to 61 games in 2012 and 115 games in 2013.
“It’s more form running, lot of technique-type stuff,” Cain said of his training with Overman. “He’s a guy I trust tremendously. Whatever he says to do, I get up and do it. I feel like it’s definitely helped out a lot. I’m going to continue to go back as long as I’m playing ball.”
The Royals are attempting to become the first team to win back-to-back World Series since the New York Yankees won three in a row, 1998-2000. Some preseason projections have the Royals winning fewer than 80 games and not qualifying for the postseason.
“You’ve got to ignore stuff like that,” Cain said. “We’re about proving people wrong, so hopefully we’ll go out and do it again.”
Cain was glad the Royals re-signed four-time Gold Glove left fielder Alex Gordon to a four-year, $72 million contract. And Jarrod Dyson is penciled in to start in right after serving as a spare outfielder the past four years.
“If Dyson gets a chance to start in right field, the defense should be even better this year,” Cain said. “That’s a lot of speed out there and that’s always nice.”
Cain’s offseason was not all about training: Wife Jenny gave birth to Jayden Lamar on Jan. 29, the couple’s second son.
“There was a lot of stuff going on,” Cain said. “(We) got a chance to win a World Series last year and had another son. It’s definitely been busy, but at the same time it’s been great and I’ve been enjoying every bit of it.”
NOTES: SS Alcides Escobar, who returned to Venezuela after his uncle died, was the only player not in camp Tuesday for the first full-squad workout. Manager Ned Yost said Escobar is expected back Friday or Saturday.
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