|KANSAS CITY ( SHIELDS )|
DETROIT ( VERLANDER )
|913||KANSAS CITY||+150||Ov 7,-110||+140||Ov 7,+100|
|914||DETROIT||-160||Un 7,-110||-150||Un 7,-120|
|3/31/2014||SHIELDS(R)||@ DETROIT||VERLANDER(R)|| |
|4/2/2014||VARGAS(L)||@ DETROIT||SCHERZER(R)|| |
|4/3/2014||VENTURA(R)||@ DETROIT||SANCHEZ(R)|| |
|4/4/2014||GUTHRIE(R)||CHI WHITE SOX||JOHNSON(R)|| |
|4/5/2014||CHEN(L)||CHI WHITE SOX||DANKS(L)|| |
|4/6/2014||SHIELDS(R)||CHI WHITE SOX||SALE(L)|| |
|4/7/2014|| ||TAMPA BAY|| || |
|3/31/2014||VERLANDER(R)||KANSAS CITY||SHIELDS(R)|| |
|4/2/2014||SCHERZER(R)||KANSAS CITY||VARGAS(L)|| |
|4/3/2014||SANCHEZ(R)||KANSAS CITY||VENTURA(R)|| |
|KANSAS CITY: KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - James Shields thinks back to last year, thoughtfully piecing together what was missing from the Kansas City Royals as they made a late push for the postseason.|
The pitching was strong. The offense was coming around. The defense was sublime.
He finally settled on experience.
''These guys that didn't realize or have never been to September, when you're fighting for a playoff spot, now you have that experience,'' Shields said. ''And I think that was one of the things we were lacking last season, the experience. You tend to put too much on your shoulders. And I think the second half we definitely relaxed and put all that aside and had fun and played the game the way we know how to play, and it showed.
''I think with the experience factor now,'' Shields concluded, ''we're ready to go.''
After finishing 86-76 a year ago, and contending into September for the first time in a decade, the Royals have their sets sight squarely on their first playoff appearance since 1985 this year.
Anything less would be a disappointment. Anything less would be a failure.
''Last year was a blast. When the end of the season came in Chicago, nobody wanted to leave,'' first baseman Eric Hosmer said. ''They knew how close we were. We were right there. And it left a good taste in everyone's mouth going into the offseason, knowing how good everyone can be.''
Indeed, the Royals return most of their key players from a year ago, signing left-hander Jason Vargas to replace their only significant loss, starting pitcher Ervin Santana. They also upgraded at their weakest spots, trading for Norichika Aoki to play right field and bat leadoff and signing Omar Infante to settle a second base position that has been a black hole for years.
All of which left the notoriously frugal franchise with a record-setting payroll.
Royals manager Ned Yost hopes all those moves will pay off for a rotation that was among the league's best last year, and an offense that was among the league's worst.
''It's going to be a lineup that has offensive sequence from one to nine. You're not going to have any dead spots,'' Yost said. ''You're not going to get something going and then bam, run into a wall and have to get going again. At least, I hope not. I don't think so.''
So with more experience and an upgraded lineup, Kansas City enters its season opener Sunday at Detroit with boundless enthusiasm.
|DETROIT: DETROIT (AP) - When Justin Verlander takes the mound for Detroit on opening day, maybe then the Tigers will be able to enjoy a much-needed sense of normalcy.|
As an offseason of drama gave way to spring training injuries, it was easy to forget the Tigers still have one of the most talented rosters in baseball. Sure, there have been some early problems for new manager Brad Ausmus to address, Detroit still figures to be the favorite to win its fourth consecutive AL Central title.
''We have a new look this year,'' outfielder Torii Hunter said. ''Little bit more speed and we'll miss the big man, but we'll score some runs.''
The ''big man'' is Prince Fielder, whom the Tigers traded to Texas in a blockbuster deal that brought second baseman Ian Kinsler to Detroit. That move gave the Tigers more financial flexibility, although they weren't all that aggressive in pursuing free agents. Detroit did sign Joe Nathan to replace departed closer Joaquin Benoit.
The Tigers also traded right-hander Doug Fister to Washington.
Lately, the focus has been on right-hander Max Scherzer, who enters his final season before free agency after winning the Cy Young Award in 2013. Negotiations with the Tigers on a long-term deal have stalled.
''They respect where I'm at. I respect where they're at, and we'll revisit this after the season,'' Scherzer said. ''I still want to be in Detroit. I love this clubhouse and everything about it. There's been a history of this team signing free agents so hopefully I'll be a part of that history as well.''
But right now Scherzer's future is uncertain, and with Hunter and Victor Martinez in the final season of their contracts, it's hard to say what Detroit's 2015 roster will look like.
So the Tigers may never have a better chance to win a World Series with this group than right now.
|~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ PA SPORTSTICKER AL PREVIEW (KANSAS CITY-DETROIT) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ |
*Royals-Tigers Preview* =======================
By NOAH TRISTER AP Baseball Writer
Kansas City (0-0) at Detroit (0-0), 1:08 p.m. EDT
DETROIT (AP) - Brad Ausmus expects to approach his managerial debut with the same relaxed attitude he showed throughout spring training.
"I'm assuming it will be similar to opening day, the first time I played an opening day," Ausmus said. "Having been to Detroit, I know there will be a ton of energy in the stadium, having played opening day there before. I'm sure I'll be excited about it, but you wouldn't know it if you saw me."
Ausmus and the Tigers (93-69) begin their pursuit of a fourth straight AL Central title Monday against the Kansas City Royals.
Justin Verlander (13-12, 3.46 ERA) will make his seventh consecutive opening day start, and Detroit will try to move on from a difficult spring training in which three significant players went down with major injuries.
Kansas City will send right-hander James Shields (13-9, 3.15) to the mound. The Royals are coming off an 86-win season - the first time they'd finished above .500 in a decade. They'll need to take another step forward to displace Detroit atop the division, but what better way to start than with a three-game series in Motown?
"We like playing the Tigers. Every time they come into town, or we go there, it's a different energy when we play them, and it has to be," Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "They're the ones we have to set out to get. That's who we have to go through to win the division. We welcome the challenge."
Ausmus took over as Detroit's manager after Jim Leyland stepped down at the end of last season, but the Tigers bring their same trio of stars back for 2014. Verlander, Miguel Cabrera and Max Scherzer have combined to win three MVPs and two Cy Young Awards in the last three seasons. Detroit recently signed Cabrera to a $292 million, 10-year deal - but that was one of precious few feel-good moments for the team over the last few weeks.
Outfielder Andy Dirks, shortstop Jose Iglesias and reliever Bruce Rondon have all gone down with major injuries. Dirks is likely to miss at least the first two months of the season, and Iglesias is expected to be out even longer. Rondon will not return this year.
The Tigers will start Rajai Davis in left field and Alex Gonzalez at shortstop in the opener.
"I think when you look around the locker room, you see the same core group of guys, and you also see some fresh new faces," center fielder Austin Jackson said. "The lineup got a little more athletic, we added some speed. Just adding some key parts to the team in general I think gets guys motivated and wanting to get the season started."
Jackson has been Detroit's leadoff hitter for pretty much his entire four-year career, but he'll hit fifth Monday. New second baseman Ian Kinsler - acquired this offseason from Texas in a blockbuster trade for Prince Fielder - will top the batting order.
The improved Royals presented an interesting contrast to the powerful Tigers last season. Kansas City's sharp defense and speed on the bases gave Detroit problems at times, and the Royals went 10-9 against the Tigers.
Kansas City returns most of its key players from 2013. The Royals signed left-hander Jason Vargas to replace their only significant loss, starting pitcher Ervin Santana.
They also traded for Norichika Aoki to play right field and bat leadoff and signed second baseman Omar Infante away from the Tigers.
The Royals were six games under .500 in late July before going 41-25 down the stretch.
"Being in it in September was a lot of fun, but we have to do that from day one, and not wait until the All-Star break to start playing good baseball," reliever Aaron Crow said. "I think the end of the season reaffirmed everyone's belief that we're a good team, and going into this year everyone knows it."
|Last Updated: 9/2/2014 1:24:40 AM EST|