KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jarrod Dyson isn’t conceding the Royals’ starting job in center field, even if it means taking it from his good friend and teammate, Lorenzo Cain.
"Hey, I got to eat, too," Dyson says, smiling. "… I don’t make the decisions. But I’m trying to take an everyday job. That’s my goal. If I don’t, I’ll play my role, whatever it is to help the team win."
Dyson says he and Cain have a mutual understanding about the competition.
"What’s so good about that is him and me can still be friends and talk to each other and help each other with our games," Dyson says. "It’s nothing personal if I start more than him or he starts more than me. I don’t care — as long as we win at the end of the day.
"We’re all on one mission — that’s to win a championship."
And Dyson believes this team is built to get there.
"We’ve got something to build off from last year," he says. "We haven’t had a winning team in a long time. Kansas City is dying for it."
"We’re going to go out there and do our best. Anytime I’m in the lineup I’m going to do my best and be ready to roll."
Dyson, however, says while he always give maximum effort, he learned from last year when it’s necessary to scale back. In other words, he won’t go climbing walls to chase home runs that are clearly gone.
That was the case last May in Anaheim, Calif., when he went after a Mike Trout home run and badly sprained his ankle when it got caught in the outfield wall padding.
That injury put him on the disabled list for over a month.
"Now, once it’s gone, it’s gone," Dyson says of chasing home runs. "I’ve told every pitcher on our staff that once a ball is gone now, I’m not climbing the wall. That ain’t happening.
"That was a dumb mistake on my part. I really regret that."
Dyson was beginning to earn regular playing time right before the injury, and his presence in the lineup helped the Royals win two of three in Anaheim at the time. But when Dyson went down with the injury, the Royals’ May swoon intensified.
"I feel like I let the team down," he says. "We left Anaheim to go to Oakland and (got swept) and we went into a funk.
"I just feel like everything was going good, the team was feeding off each other, and then I went down. It probably wasn’t me (that caused the slump) but I feel like I hurt the team. It was a stupid mistake."
Dyson says the injury never fully healed.
"I tried to come back as fast as I could," he says. "But I couldn’t really just cut like I wanted to. Maybe at the end of the year my ankle was better. I could run a straight line but I couldn’t cut (most of the year)."
The ankle feels fine now, he reports.
"Oh yeah. I’m ready to go," he says. "Let’s get started."
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email email@example.com.