Shields ready for first matchup against Rays

Royals right-hander to battle former teammates in Tuesday's series opener

Shields ready for first matchup against Rays

KANSAS CITY -- There's no easing into this reunion. Bang -- James Shields will face his old team, the Tampa Bay Rays, the first time the Royals lay eyes on them this year. He'll be the starting pitcher for the Royals in Tuesday night's series opener at Kauffman Stadium.

"Obviously, it's going to be a little weird facing my old team," Shields said. "I was with them for 12 years. It's kind of understandable that it's going to feel a little different. It'll be exciting. It'll be fun."

Shields, fellow pitcher Wade Davis and infielder Elliot Johnson all came in the trade that sent four Royals prospects to the Rays. Those prospects are all in the Minors, including outfielder Wil Myers and pitchers Jake Odorizzi and Mike Montgomery at Triple-A. But the three ex-Rays are all in Kansas City.

"I have a lot of friends over there," Shields said. "I think me and David Price text each other almost every day. He's one of my best friends in baseball. I root for those guys, I really do. I played with them for so long, how could you not? But tomorrow's my game, so I'm going to try to beat 'em."

Such familiarity will mean there won't be many surprises out on the field.

"It's going to be a little chess game out there. They know me, I know them," Shields said.

Johnson heard from his former Rays teammate, outfielder Sam Fuld.

"I made a lot of friends over there, a lot of good people over there," Johnson said. "Sam texted me; he was my roommate, if there is such a thing, on the road. He's already asked me what to do on the off-day here and things of that nature. So I'll probably meet him for lunch on one of the days and hopefully we can sweep 'em."

Davis, pitching against the Indians on Monday night, won't get to face the Rays in this series.

"Hopefully, I'll get 'em next time when we're at their place," Davis said.

He was looking forward to seeing pitcher Jake McGee, a buddy since 2004 and a former roommate.

But Shields was the guy on the firing line on Tuesday night.

"It's definitely going to be fun. I'm not going to try to look at them, as much as I can," Shields said. "David Price is probably going to throw some seeds at me or something."

Davis smiled as he anticipated seeing old teammates.

"There might be some trash-talking here and there, who knows?" he said. "It'll be fun."

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