CHICAGO — It was a formality, but the Royals added infielder Miguel Tejada to their roster prior to Sunday’s deadline. They cleared space on their 25-man roster by placing left-hander Danny Duffy on the disabled list.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
The move caps a comeback for Tejada, who agreed Dec. 31, 2012 to a minor-league deal after not playing in the majors since Aug. 30, 2011. He played 36 minor-league games last season in Baltimore system.
“I always thought I could make it back,” Tejada said. “Before I was starting, but I thought I could come back as a utility player. I can play any position. I never say I can’t.
“I always had it in my mind that I could come back. I worked hard and went back to winter ball to show everybody that I still have it.”
Manager Ned Yost confirmed Friday that Tejada, 38, would make the club, but the move didn’t become official until shortly before the 2 p.m. deadline for clubs to set their rosters.
Tejada will make $1.1 million under terms of his big-league contract, which contains performance bonuses capable of adding another $400,000.
Duffy, 24, is recovering from Tommy John surgery to replace a torn elbow ligament. He underwent the procedure June 13, 2012 and is on pace to return to active duty by mid-season.
Tejada is a 15-year veteran with five teams with 304 homers, 1,282 RBIs and a .285 average in 2,118 career games. He batted .239 with four homers and 26 RBIs in 91 games for the Giants in 2011 prior to his Sept. 8 release.
“I wanted to see the whole package,” Yost said, “and I was very impressed. He still has plenty of bat speed, and he’s versatile in terms of where he can play. He can play anywhere in the infield.
“He’s also gives us tremendous leadership and brings tremendous experience.”
Tejada was the American League’s Most Valuable Player in 2002 and averaged 158 games a year from 1999 through 2009 for Oakland, Baltimore and Houston.
Nearly all of those games were at shortstop, but he is likely to play that position now only in an emergency. The Royals view Elliot Johnson as their primary backup to Alcides Escobar.
“ I’m very proud of myself for getting back to the big leagues,” Tejada said, “especially after what’s happened in the last year. I think I have a lot to give to the team to help them win.
“I prepared my body in the off-season, and I know I can play this game. That’s why I’m here.”
Right-hander James Shields, the Royals’ marquee off-season addition, will become the 22nd pitcher in the franchise’s 45-year history to start a season opener.
“I am looking forward to Monday,” he said. “I’m excited, man. It’s the first day of baseball. I think all of the fans are excited. We’re excited here. As long as spring training has been, I think our team is ready to go.”
Shields, 31, started four openers over the last five years at Tampa Bay. He was 1-1 with a 6.17 ERA (16 earned runs in 23 ⅓ innings) in those games while allowing 32 hits and 11 walks and striking out 13.
Chicago lefty Chris Sale is making his first career start on opening day. He was 17-8 last season with a 3.08 ERA and is 4-5 with a 3.13 ERA in 17 career games (six starts) against the Royals.
Shields was 15-10 with a 3.52 ERA last year at Tampa Bay and is 3-3 and 4.76 in 11 career starts against the White Sox.
Whenever Miguel Tejada gets into his first game, he will become the eighth MVP winner to play for the Royals. Only one of those won the award while playing for the Royals.
That was George Brett in 1980.
Can you name the other seven? Answer below.
A year ago
How much difference does one year make? You judge.
Here is the lineup for Monday’s opener:
LF Alex Gordon, SS Alcides Escobar, DH Billy Butler, 3B Mike Moustakas, C Salvy Perez, 1B Eric Hosmer, CF Lorenzo Cain, RF Jeff Francoeur, 2B Chris Getz and P James Shields.
A year ago, the Royals used this lineup on opening day against the Angels in Anaheim:
LF Alex Gordon, CF Lorenzo Cain, 1B Eric Hosmer, DH Billy Butler, RF Jeff Francoeur, 2B Yuniesky Betancourt, 3B Mike Moustakas, C Brayan Pena, SS Alcides Escobar and P Bruce Chen.
It’s probably worth noting ... the 2012 lineup managed only four hits in a 5-0 loss to Jered Weaver, who worked eight innings before Scott Downs pitched the ninth.
It was 44 years ago Monday — April 1, 1969 — that the Royals acquired outfielder Lou Piniella from the Seattle Pilots for outfielder Steve Whitaker and pitcher John Gelnar.
Piniella, then 25, went on to become the American League Rookie of the Year after batting .282 with 11 homers and 68 RBIs in 135 games. He played for the Royals through 1973 before getting traded to the Yankees.
Here’s a piece a trivia: Piniella made $10,000 in 1969.
Whitaker batted .250 in 69 games for the Pilots, while Gelnar went 3-10 with a 3.31 ERA in 31 games (10 starts). Whitaker played just one more season in the majors; Gelnar lasted through 1971.
The Pilots moved to Milwaukee after one season and became the Brewers.
The eight for MVPs to play for the Royals: Orlando Cepeda (played 1974 for Royals; won the award in 1967 with the Cardinals), Harmon Killebrew (1975; 1969 with Twins), Vida Blue (1982-83; 1971 with A’s).
George Brett (1973-93; 1980 with Royals).
Kirk Gibson (1991; 1988 with Dodgers), Terry Pendleton (1998; 1991 with Cardinals), Juan Gonzalez (2004; 1996 and 1998 with Rangers) and Miguel Tejada (2013; 2002 with A’).