BOSTON -- Most sought interviewee in the Royals' clubhouse before Monday night's game against the Red Sox? Right fielder Jeff Francoeur, renewed subject of Boston trade rumors now that J.D. Drew is injured? Nope. Manager Ned Yost? Naw.
It was relief pitcher Tim Collins, who's from nearby Worcester, Mass., and was making his first visit as a Major Leaguer. He was surrounded by area reporters, telling his story for the better part of an hour.
"I guess you could say I'm coming home. I'm only about 35, 40 minutes from here -- if you drive fast," Collins said. "And usually the people in Boston do drive fast."
The diminutive left-hander grew up an ardent Red Sox fan and one of his favorites was pitcher Pedro Martinez.
"I liked him because he was always goofing around, having fun," Collins said. "He showed what the whole Red Sox team was about, having fun -- when you're winning, you're having fun and when you're having fun, that helps win ballgames."
Collins left tickets for about 10 close family members, but expected an invasion of former coaches, old buddies and high school friends as well throughout Fenway Park.
As a youngster, Collins made it to Fenway several times as a fan. His last visit was when he was 15 and was invited along with his Babe Ruth League team that had made the regional finals.
"We got to walk out of that gate in center field and we could only stand on the warning track, so I touched the grass with my toe," Collins said. "The first thing I did when I got out there today was lay down in the grass and did like a snow angel. They can't yell at me now for touching the grass."
And Collins made a perfect debut at Fenway later Monday night as he pitched the seventh inning and retired the Red Sox one-two-three.