Royals' opener could be chilly, wet

Royals' opener could be chilly, wet

DETROIT -- Patches of snow still punctuated the Detroit landscape. A cold wind cut through Comerica Park. The Royals worked out Sunday in heavy jackets with toques crowning their baseball caps and covering their ears.

"[It's] just like the Winter Olympics," said pitching coach Bob McClure. "How do they do it? We've got baseball as a Winter Olympics sport now."

The forecast for Monday's 12:05 p.m. CT opener against the Detroit Tigers was considerably warmer -- a high of 56 degrees -- but with a good chance of rain.

"It's cool, but I've been in a lot colder," manager Trey Hillman said. "I've had plenty of cold days. Considering what it could be at this time of the year in this part of the United States, we can deal with this."

In the cold, the pitchers are deemed to hold the advantage over the batters.

"The ball doesn't carry as much and the hitters don't want to get jammed. The pitcher is probably the warmest guy out there," McClure said.

David DeJesus, who'll be leading off against hard-throwing Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander, is wary.

"The fastball in -- I might be a little hesitant on that one," he said during batting practice.

Hitting coach Mike Barnett doubts the cold will affect his batters all that much, especially if the warmer forecast holds. He said that colder weather generally causes batters to shorten their swing.

"They get shorter to the ball because they don't want to get a ball off the hands or off the end of the bat," Barnett said. "That's what causes the stinging in the hands."

Gil Meche, the Royals' starter Monday, plans to duck inside the clubhouse between innings to keep warm. Pitchers in the bullpen can sit in a heated area behind Plexiglas.

"It's probably the nicest bullpen in baseball because it's enclosed and climate-controlled," McClure said.

Hitters have to keep warm the old-fashioned way.

"Once you get sweating a little bit, the cold-weather gear keeps you pretty warm," left fielder Mark Teahen said.

Right fielder Jose Guillen added his own touch to the morning workout, wearing his curly haired, just-for-laughs wig under his toque.

Hillman expressed another managerial concern.

"I still worry about people slipping on ice and things like that away from the ballpark," he said.

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