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Royals sign outfielder Podsednik

Scott Podsednik says he’s equally comfortable in left and center field. That’s good, because the Royals may be equally open to him in either spot.

Podsednik comes to the Royals on a one-year contract with a $1.75 million guarantee and option for 2011. He mostly split between left and center for the White Sox last year, and the Royals are at least considering moving David DeJesus back to center after he spent last season in left.

DeJesus made the switch after the Royals acquired Coco Crisp -- whom they considered a Gold Glove-caliber defensive player -- and the Royals will use spring training to decide where to play him in 2010.

“That’s a good question,” general manager Dayton Moore said. “David did perform very good in left field. Offensively he was once again one of our more consistent performers. We feel he can play center field.”

Podsednik will most likely hit at the top of the order, regardless of which position he plays in the field. The Royals also signed center fielder Brian Anderson, who has a minor-league option remaining, and have incumbent Mitch Maier, who does not.

Podsednik hit .304 with a .353 on-base percentage and 30 stolen bases in 132 games last year. He has stolen at least 30 bases in each of his five full-time seasons in the big leagues, including a career-high 70 for Milwaukee in 2004. The Royals like his speed in the big Kauffman Stadium outfield.

For his part, Podsednik said he felt the most wanted by the Royals and grew comfortable through conversations with Moore and a lunch with manager Trey Hillman.

“It’s a pretty level playing field,” Podsednik said of the AL Central. “If we can get our attitude where we need to be in terms of all playing together as one team and understanding what we’re trying to accomplish on a day-in, day-out basis, then anything can happen.

“That’s one thing we’re trying to get everybody to understand is that the Royals don’t have to finish last in the Central. It doesn’t have to be that way.”

Podsednik’s deal includes a $1.65 million salary for 2010, with $250,000 in incentives. The 2011 option is for a $2 million salary with a $100,000 buyout and $300,000 in bonuses. It’s a club option that becomes mutual with 525 plate appearances.

The Royals will have to make a corresponding move with their 40-man roster, which will be announced once the Podsednik signing is confirmed by the players’ association.

Moore talked about the importance of acquiring speed, which was also a leading factor in the club’s earlier signing of Anderson.

Anderson was brought in with the idea of competing for the center field job -- a role that may be leap-frogged by Podsednik now -- but Moore said he sees the two as “very different” players with Anderson bringing a little more power and Podsednik being more of a base stealer and gap-to-gap hitter.

“He’s a winning baseball player, keeps himself in great shape,” Moore said of Podsednik. “There’s no doubt in our minds he’ll be a productive player for us one of our main objectives going into this offseason was to improve our defense, improve our speed and certainly our on-base percentage, and Scott puts us in a position to do just that.”

Moore on Arguelles

Moore said Cuban defector Noel Arguelles, signed to a five-year deal worth $7 million, may not pitch for two months.

Arguelles, a 6-foot-4 left-handed pitcher, had been competing for 17 straight months while trying to showcase himself to big-league scouts. Arguelles beefs up an already impressive stable of left-handed pitching talent in the Royals’ minor-league system.

Moore said Arguelles may be the most polished of a group that includes Chris Dwyer, Mike Montgomery, Danny Duffy and John Lamb.

“He’s in great shape,” Moore said. “Watching him go through his physical assessments the last few days, he’s right at 6-4, he’s actually 223 pounds, he looks really good, good taper to his body, well-proportioned. We just want to let his arm rest. There’s no reason to rush him.”

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