SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Mike Sweeney, the Royals' new special assistant to baseball operations, swept through the clubhouse on Monday with a flurry of smiles, greetings and hugs.
The former Royals captain, first baseman, designated hitter and catcher, quickly settled onto a chair next to the current DH, Billy Butler.
"I was just catching up with an old friend and encouraging him to be the best he can be, both on and off the field. And that's part of my job here," Sweeney said.
He encouraged Butler to join teammates like Alex Gordon and James Shields in taking a more visible leadership role with the Royals.
"Challenged him to be a fountain, breathe life into these guys. I was sharing with Billy: In the big leagues, you look at guys and they're either a fountain or a drain, they're either sucking the life out or pouring life in," Sweeney said. "I was just challenging Billy: 'You're one of the best hitters on the planet, so be a fountain from Day 1.'"
Butler is one of only three players remaining from Sweeney's Royals days, which ended in 2007. The others are Gordon and Luke Hochevar.
"It's good to see him," said manager Ned Yost, "because he is very energetic, he is very positive and our guys in our locker room, the vast majority, are real positive and energetic, too. So he fits in real nice."
Sweeney will spend a week in camp, then return twice during March before the Royals head into the season.
"He'll give little tidbits of information to players that help them," Yost said. "Every player every day should be looking for something minute, something very small that's going to improve his game. Because nobody at this level is going to find something great that's going to turn their game around -- it just doesn't happen. You start adding up the minute areas, try a little something here, a little something there, and all of a sudden, they start to become better players. That's what he and Jason Kendall and George Brett bring to the table."
Kendall, a former catcher, is in camp now in his continuing role as a part-time instructor. Hall of Famer Brett usually arrives when the infielders and outfielders report.
Sweeney, obviously, was delighted to be back.
"It feels like the first day of school," Sweeney said. "I was walking around, where am I supposed to go, who are the new teachers, who are the new students? And I'm one of them. But it's all about these players, this team has nothing to do with an old, broken-down guy like me. It has everything to do with them."
Sweeney once presided over the clubhouse as the team captain.
"Now I'm just a deck hand," he said with a smile.
Walters eager to make impact in KC camp
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- In every training camp, there are pitchers on the fringes, little-noticed guys with some big league experience who are looking for a break. One of those in the Royals' camp this year is P.J. Walters, a 6-foot-4 right-hander.
He's a non-roster pitcher who has played with the Twins, Cardinals and, very briefly, the Blue Jays. Over five seasons, Walters has gotten into 40 Major League games, 24 of them starts, with a 6-10 record and a 6.28 ERA.
"I've always been a starter, but I'll do whatever they need me to do to help them," Walters said. "Obviously this is a very good pitching staff and very few spots open, but whatever spot may be where I can jump in and help 'em out, that's where I'll go."
So far, though, Walters, 28, hasn't been mentioned enough as a likely candidate for the Royals' fifth starting job.
A product of Faith Academy and the University of South Alabama in Mobile, Walters was drafted in the 11th round of 2006 by the Cardinals and spent parts of '09 and '10 in St. Louis. Just before the 2011 Trade Deadline, he went to Toronto in an eight-player swap that, among other things, also took center fielder Colby Rasmus to the Blue Jays. Then Walters signed as a free agent with the Twins and spent parts of the last two years with them.
Twice last June, he started for the Twins against the Royals and lost both times. He was rocked pretty hard in his second appearance, giving up six runs in three innings, with most damage coming via homers by Billy Butler and Mike Moustakas.
"They've always been a good-hitting team and watching them last year was interesting," Walters said. "It was a lot of fun to see them; they played hard, they've got guys diving around on defense, stealing bases, pitchers competing. It makes it fun to watch, even on the other side. Obviously you're trying to beat 'em, but it's still fun to watch when the game's played the right way."
This year, Walters would like to be part of that fun.
KC adds to outfield mix by claiming Paredes
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Royals added to their outfield depth on Monday by claiming Jimmy Paredes off waivers from Baltimore.
Paredes, 25, was placed on the 40-man roster. To make room, right-handed pitcher Maikel Cleto was designated for assignment.
The move gives the Royals eight outfielders on the roster. Already behind starters Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain and Nori Aoki were Jarrod Dyson, Justin Maxwell, Lane Adams and Carlos Peguero.
A switch-hitter, Paredes spent parts of the last three seasons with the Astros, batting .234 with three homers and 31 RBIs in a total of 118 games.
"We saw him in Houston last year. He's an athletic switch-hitter that plays multiple positions," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He's got an option left."
Paredes has also played third base and second base in the Majors.
Originally signed by the Yankees, he was included in the deal on July 31, 2010, that sent Lance Berkman to New York. Over seven Minor League seasons, Paredes has played 601 games with a .289 average and 166 stolen bases.
The Royals are Paredes' third team of this offseason. He was claimed by the Marlins last Nov. 4 and then by the Orioles just last Saturday.
Cleto, 25, had a 1-2 record and a 3.55 ERA in 19 games for Triple-A Omaha last season.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.