Shields ready for first matchup against Rays
Royals right-hander to battle former teammates in Tuesday's series opener
KANSAS CITY -- There's no easing into this reunion. Bang -- James Shields will face his old team, the Tampa Bay Rays, the first time the Royals lay eyes on them this year. He'll be the starting pitcher for the Royals in Tuesday night's series opener at Kauffman Stadium.
"Obviously, it's going to be a little weird facing my old team," Shields said. "I was with them for 12 years. It's kind of understandable that it's going to feel a little different. It'll be exciting. It'll be fun."
Shields, fellow pitcher Wade Davis and infielder Elliot Johnson all came in the trade that sent four Royals prospects to the Rays. Those prospects are all in the Minors, including outfielder Wil Myers and pitchers Jake Odorizzi and Mike Montgomery at Triple-A. But the three ex-Rays are all in Kansas City.
"I have a lot of friends over there," Shields said. "I think me and David Price text each other almost every day. He's one of my best friends in baseball. I root for those guys, I really do. I played with them for so long, how could you not? But tomorrow's my game, so I'm going to try to beat 'em."
Such familiarity will mean there won't be many surprises out on the field.
"It's going to be a little chess game out there. They know me, I know them," Shields said.
Johnson heard from his former Rays teammate, outfielder Sam Fuld.
"I made a lot of friends over there, a lot of good people over there," Johnson said. "Sam texted me; he was my roommate, if there is such a thing, on the road. He's already asked me what to do on the off-day here and things of that nature. So I'll probably meet him for lunch on one of the days and hopefully we can sweep 'em."
Davis, pitching against the Indians on Monday night, won't get to face the Rays in this series.
"Hopefully, I'll get 'em next time when we're at their place," Davis said.
He was looking forward to seeing pitcher Jake McGee, a buddy since 2004 and a former roommate.
But Shields was the guy on the firing line on Tuesday night.
"It's definitely going to be fun. I'm not going to try to look at them, as much as I can," Shields said. "David Price is probably going to throw some seeds at me or something."
Davis smiled as he anticipated seeing old teammates.
"There might be some trash-talking here and there, who knows?" he said. "It'll be fun."
Royals say they'd support gay teammates
KANSAS CITY -- A small sampling of players in the Royals' clubhouse on Monday brought a consensus that a gay player in baseball would be accepted within the sport. Opinions were sought after NBA player Jason Collins announced that he was gay in a Sports Illustrated story.
"If it makes him happy, I'll support him," said pitcher Aaron Crow, the Royals' player representative. "It doesn't affect me either way. If that's what he wants to do, it's cool."
"What he does in his personal life is fine. I think we should all respect that," pitcher Greg Holland said. "He's a grown man and he can make his own choices. I know it's a tough decision to come out openly -- it takes a lot of courage."
Would a gay player be accepted in baseball?
"It wouldn't bother me at all. I can't speak for everybody," Crow said, "but it doesn't bother me whatsoever."
"I don't know if it'd be across the board but I think the majority of people would respect their own personal space and what they want to do with their life and their free time," Holland said.
"I absolutely think he'd be accepted," right fielder Jeff Francoeur said. "I think it'd be a tough go. That's just seems to be society's thing, especially in sports. It definitely would be interesting, for sure. But he'd definitely be accepted. I think if it were someone on our team, we'd treat him the same."
Designated hitter Billy Butler said: "I'd hope that people would be professional and that they would realize that he made his own decision and that he's there to win a ballgame each day, and that has nothing to do with what type of person he is. I would handle it like he's still like my brother."
Infielder Elliot Johnson saluted Collins' courage in making the announcement.
"For him to be in that situation and you think about the entire culture of macho men and the type of things that are created, I'm sure it's not an easy thing at all. For me personally, I don't have a problem with it and if that helps him sleep better at night, so be it," Johnson said and added:
"I applaud Jason for what he did and if it happens in baseball -- statistically there have probably been plenty already and there probably is right now. If they want to do it, that's fine with me and if they don't want to do it, that's fine with me, too. Whatever they choose to do, It's their life and their career."
Royals-Indians draw highest FOX KC rating
KANSAS CITY -- FOX Sports Kansas City announced that the first game of Sunday's doubleheader against Cleveland pulled the highest ratings of any Royals game ever televised by the network.
The 9-0 Kansas City victory averaged a 7.9 rating, meaning 73,000 households, according to Nielsen Media Research. The second game was not televised by FOX Sports. The old record was 7.5 on May 6, 2009, against Seattle.
Saberhagen auction items return big dollars
KANSAS CITY -- Former pitcher Bret Saberhagen's 1985 Royals World Series ring brought $73,409 at a memorabilia auction that ended on Sunday, it was announced by SCP Auctions.
Among other items sold were Saberhagen's 1985 American League Cy Young Award, $38,588, and his World Series MVP Trophy, $37,610. A portion of the proceeds were to go to The Bret Saberhagen Makes A Difference Foundation.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.