Shields shrugs off tough start in final tuneup

Shields shrugs off tough start in final tuneup

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The final tuneup for Royals Opening Day starter James Shields on Wednesday started on a sour note. He walked Padres leadoff man Everth Cabrera on four pitches.

Things went downhill from there.

Shields was zinged for seven runs in the first inning on six hits, that walk and a hit batter in the Royals' 9-5 loss in their Cactus League finale. The Padres were aggressive, jumping on Shields' first pitch five times -- good for four of the hits and a sacrifice bunt.

But Shields breezed through the next three innings with barely a ripple of trouble and no more runs.

"I felt in the first inning, they were just hitting ground balls that found some holes. I was trying to stay aggressive right there," Shields said. "Walking the first guy didn't help too much but, other than the first inning, I thought it was a pretty good effort out there. Normally during the season that's not going to happen in the first too much."

This game inflated Shields' final Cactus League ERA from 2.61 to 4.74, but he felt primed and ready for the Detroit Tigers on Monday afternoon. But first there's a stop at Milwaukee for two more exhibition games against the Brewers.

"I feel good, my body feels great," Shields said. "I think we're all ready to go here, so we're excited to get on this airplane tonight and get this thing started."

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