After sharing time with U. L. Washington the past three seasons, shortstop Onix Concepcion came to training camp with the Kansas City Royals assured of his starting job this year.
Concepcion, 26, moved ahead of Washington in 1984, and now Washington has been traded away to the Montreal Expos.
"I knew at the end of last year that either U.L. or me would be traded," Concepcion said. "I knew when they traded him that it was my position."
While confident of his regular spot in the lineup, Concepcion feels "I still have to prove a lot of things."
"I have to be more consistent and play more than 90 games," he said.
Last year it was 90 games exactly for Concepcion, the most in his three full seasons in the majors. He missed two big chunks of playing time due to injury, first a sore shoulder, then a broken hand.
Although not spectacular, his performance last year helped strengthen his grasp on the job.
He hit .282 for the season, with 23 runs batted in a one homer, that on the first pitch thrown to him as he led off against the Yankees on opening day. But from the All-Star break to the end of the season he hit .370, best in the major leagues, although he missed 27 games after his left hand was broken when he was hit by a pitch on Aug. 10.
His fielding percentage of .972 was fifth best among American League shortstops, and he and second baseman Frank White combined for 148 double plays.