CHICAGO — Part of the pregame chatter in the Royals clubhouse Monday was about clothing.
By PETE GRATHOFF
The Kansas City Star
It wasn't a fashion discussion. Hooded sweatshirts, stocking caps and undershirts were talked about, because the temperature was 44 degrees with 12 mph winds at first pitch at U.S. Cellular Field.
That's not too surprising with baseball in April in the Midwest, but is the cold an advantage for hitters or pitchers?
It just (stinks) for everybody, Jeff Francoeur said with a laugh. At this time of year, we've all played in it. Last year we were lucky, we got to play in LA (against the Angels) and it's 72 (degrees). This year, we're playing cold weather, but when you get out there and the juices are flowing, sure it's a little cold and your hands are cold, but we've got the heaters in (the dugout).
We're going to be so amped up, who cares?
Closer Greg Holland embraced the chill.
I like pitching when it's cold, Holland said. I kind of grew up pitching in cold weather, so it doesn't really bother me. I always just tell myself that hitters don't want to get sawed off, because it hurts worse.
Indeed it does, said first baseman Eric Hosmer.
If you hit in a certain spot (on the bat), it can hurt your hand, Hosmer said. It'll sting a little longer than in a regular summer day. That's just part of it. Most of us played in the Midwest in the minor-leagues, so we have a pretty good idea of what it's like.
The biggest change may have been the need to dress in layers. Players quizzed each other about what might be the best attire to play in.
It can mess your swing up if all of a sudden you have all these layers on, said Francoeur, who wore long sleeves that were loose, and had two hits.
Opening day brought out the usual extra touches: fireworks, a huge U.S. flag was unfurled in the outfield and the teams lined up on the foul lines pregame.
Most it meant little to the Royals.
It's just another date, Cain said. Throughout the season, we're looking to win every game, every series. Opening day, win or lose, it's just the first game of the season.
The one good thing is getting the season started.
Once you get past (Opening Day), manager Ned Yost said, you can start to get into the routine of the season, which we're all dying to do anyway. The reality is it's just another game, but it does have some significant attention to it. Opening Day here, Opening Day in Philly (this weekend), Opening Day at home, once you get those under your belts, you can start rolling.
Bo Jackson, decked out in black, threw out the first pitch.
Jackson played with the Royals from 1986-90, then was with the White Sox in 1991 and '93. Jackson retired after playing with the Angels in 1994.
I can bet anybody in here whatever you want to bet, Jackson told a throng of reporters, that my team is going to win today.
The teams may be the same, but the players have certainly changed.
The only way that it feels like 20 years (since he played) is that out of both teams, I bet I don't know but five guys, Jackson said.
The only Royals player Jackson remembered was reserve infielder Miguel Tejada.
All of those guys are new, Jackson said. Tejada is one of the veteran players over there that I remember (when Tejada was) with Baltimore. I'm talking about more people like the George Bretts and the Jamie Quirks. These kids, I call them kids, but these kids were babies when we played.
Before the game, pitcher Bruce Chen wore a sign on his chest while in the clubhouse that said: Ten years of service. A smiley face was next to the words. The sign was made by reliever Kelvin Herrera, who said: It's a big accomplishment.
Chen got his 10 years the hard way. He made his major-league debut in 1998 with Atlanta. That's 15 years ago.
Second baseman Chris Getz opened 2013 against the pitcher he faced in his last at-bat in 2012.
Getz was trying to bunt in a game last August when he was hit by a pitch from Chicago's Chris Sale, who started Monday's game. Getz broke his thumb, ending his season.
Obviously I remember what happened, Getz said. It was a freak thing, I know he didn't do it on purpose. I'm just excited to get back out there.
Getz was zero for three against Sale.
• The teams wore a patch on their uniforms to honor the dead and those affected by the Newtown, Conn., shooting. The patch had the Newtown city seal, a black memorial ribbon and 26 stars. That's a star for each person who was killed.
• The Royals have lost five straight openers. Their last Opening Day victory was in 2008 - a 5-4 win in 11 innings in Detroit.