Guillen introduced to Kansas City

Guillen introduced to Kansas City

KANSAS CITY -- In dim light behind a door leading to the stage, the Royals players gathered in their new powder blue jerseys. Outside, in the glare of the spotlight, general manager Dayton Moore and manager Trey Hillman fielded questions from fans.

But the players were the main event. John Buck, David DeJesus, Mark Teahen and Alex Gordon were dressed to the nines, milling about and waiting for their cue. Gordon was OK to model -- his nose has healed nicely from that nasty bad-hop bloodletting on the final day of the season.

"I was supposed to have our engagement pictures taken the next day," he said. "I got out of that."

Who was that other fellow in the backstage dimness, grinning and wearing powder blue jersey No. 11?

"I guess I'm the surprise," he said.

Jose Guillen was indeed the surprise on Thursday night as the Royals unveiled not only their new uniforms but their new power-hitting outfielder for several hundred season ticket holders at the Grand Ballroom in Kansas City. No one expected him to be here.

After broadcaster Ryan Lefebvre chatted with the players and former stars Frank White and John Mayberry, he introduced Guillen.

Guillen came in out of the shadows to a standing ovation.

"I'm excited to be here, excited to be a Royal. I can't wait to get to Spring Training and meet all my teammates. Let's go, Royals," he said. "Let's win a championship here. This is a new start."

More cheers.

It was a busy day for Guillen, who flew in from his Miami home for the private event. He got to his hotel, tried to nap, then got a call from his agent with the news that he'd been suspended for 15 days by the Commissioner.

That would delay his debut with the Royals until April 15 at Seattle which, ironically, is the place he left as a free agent this year.

Guillen said the players' union and his attorneys had already appealed the punishment for violation of MLB's Drug Prevention and Treatment program. Other than that, he politely declined comment on the subject.

But, after calling eight other cities home in his 12-year career, he looked happy to have a three-year deal with Kansas City. Of course, a $36 million contract can make a guy feel wanted.

His mother lives in New York and she was rooting for Guillen to play for the Mets.

"There were six or seven teams interested but she kept pushing me to come there," he said.

Sorry, Mom, these Royals also seem like a team with a good future and good young players. He got sold on that in his give-and-take with Moore.

"He said we're going to make this team a winner. I remember he told me we need some energy on this team and we need some leaders," Guillen said. "We just had a great conversation and everything fell into place. I just chose to come here."

Guillen is anxious to show he's a leader and has matured from the bombastic kid who let his emotions sometimes get away from him. That happened mostly because he wasn't playing regularly.

"I'm not a 19-year-old kid anymore," he said. "I like to win and I like to play."

Yes, and he did some selling himself when Moore came to visit in Miami.

"We met at my house. I got a pretty good chance to be a leader of that team, to be the man there, so why not?" he said. "Let's go there and make it happen. All of you guys know what kind of player I am. I'm a winner."

Guillen said it really didn't matter if he played left field or right field or whether he batted third or fourth in the lineup.

"Wherever they put me, as long as I can drive in some runs that'll be great. I batted third and fourth pretty much the whole year in Seattle. It doesn't matter where [Hillman] is going to put me. It'll work out the right way," he said.

Guillen ambled back to the green room with the rest of the "models" to get back into civvies. His wife, Yamel Ros, was waiting with his dress shirt. The powder blue jersey with his name and number was folded and put away. He shook hands with his teammates.

There was snow on the ground outside but Guillen was warm on the inside and looking more at home by the minute. He leaned back in his chair.

"We're not that far away," he said with a big smile, "from a championship."

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.