Up to Shields to reverse Opening Day skid

Up to Shields to reverse Opening Day skid

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Royals have lost their last five season openers and have not even scored in the last two, so they could use a change of fortune on March 31 in Detroit.

Perhaps James Shields, tapped as the Opening Day pitcher on Saturday, can do something about it. He tried last year in Chicago.

"Last year I faced Chris Sale, and he was pretty much on his game and it was a 1-0 loss. We're definitely going to try to start off on the right foot, but we're not going to put too much emphasis on the first game," Shields said.

Sure, it is just the first of 162 games, but winning the first one is always nice.

This will be Shields' sixth Opening Day assignment; he made four for the Rays. At any opener, there is a tremendous amount of pregame hoopla that a starting pitcher must try to tune out.

"I'm going to have to treat it as any other start and go out there and try to get us a win," Shields said. "It's the start of the season; it's a special day. It's an exciting day for everybody in baseball, and any time you start on Opening Day you still have those first-game jitters."

Or maybe the shivers, considering what the weather might be like in Detroit.

"Hopefully it's not going to be 18 degrees and I have to tune out the cold," Shields said. "But I guess I'm lucky that I'm throwing the ball. I'm going to be a lot hotter than most of the guys out there. I think our outfielders are probably going to be the coldest."

The Tigers have not announced their Opening Day starter, but it will be either Justin Verlander or Max Scherzer. Their lineup features the dangerous Miguel Cabrera, who has hit .425 (17-for-40) against Shields.

"They've got a good lineup over there. They're always a threat," Shields said.

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