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Shields focused on start, not aces matchup

Royals right-hander set to face Verlander, Tigers Thursday at Comerica

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DETROIT -- This is the kind of pitching matchup that the Royals had in mind when they obtained James Shields to head their rotation: Shields versus Detroit ace Justin Verlander.

That's what is scheduled to take place on Thursday afternoon in currently cold and damp Detroit.

Shields, though, insists he's taking it pretty much as any other game he pitches.

"I think if I was making my debut or something or if I was a rookie, I'd be looking more into it," Shields said. "But I feel that it's the same day as every five days. I go out there and pitch my game and try to win the ballgame. I don't think of it too much different than that."

Kansas City fans, though, are undoubtedly getting revved up about the pitching pairing and,because of a late television decision, they'll be able to see it.

FOX Sports Kansas City has added Thursday afternoon's Royals-Tigers game to its schedule. Pregame coverage starts at 11:30 a.m. CT and the first pitch from Verlander is scheduled for 12:05 p.m. The telecast will make up for Tuesday night's rained-out game.

Shields has a formidable task. Few Royals pitchers have prevailed when going against Verlander. His career record against the Royals is 15-2 with a 2.73 ERA in 23 games. Verlander last lost to them in 2009.

While with Tampa Bay, Shields faced the Tigers nine times and he did well against them with a 5-1 record and 3.66 ERA. He was also effective at Comerica Park: 3-0 and a 2.74 ERA in four starts. That included a one-inning, late-season start in 2008, as the Rays set up their playoff rotation.

"I've always been that type of guy that it doesn't matter who's facing me. It really doesn't matter to me. I just look at their hitters and what I need to do against their hitters and there are some things you just can't control, and I need to focus on the things I can control," Shields said.

"You've got to be careful with these guys, they've got a good lineup. And you've got to go out there and try to do it."

In fact, several of the Tigers have given Shields a workout, notably Miguel Cabrera, who's hitting .500 (13-for-26) against him but with just one home run. Others: Jhonny Peralta, .455 (10-for-22, three homers and eight RBIs); Victor Martinez, .368 (7-for-19) and Torii Hunter, .313 (10-for-32).

The Royals' one big success story against Verlander is Billy Butler, who is 21-for-53 (.396) with two homers and nine RBIs.

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

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