ROYALS

Royals’ Shields draws marquee matchup against Verlander

Updated: 2013-04-25T17:47:11Z

By BOB DUTTON

The Kansas City Star

— Thursday’s series finale against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park is the biggest reason yet to explain why the Royals scooped some cream from their farm system last December to acquire James Shields.

The Royals are facing Tigers ace Justin Verlander, a long-time nemesis, at 12:05 p.m. Central time (yes, weather permitting) and, in the past, their best-case scenario was that the weather didn’t permit.

Now they have Shields, who routinely found himself in marquee matchups in recent years while pitching for Tampa Bay.

“Me and CC (Sabathia of the Yankees) had some battles over the years,” he recalled. “One year, I remember, we faced each other three or four times. He won one, then I won one. We had a rubber match going.”

Generally, though, Shields said he learned to ignore the hype surrounding such matchups.

“If I was making my debut or if I was a rookie,” he said, “then I would look at (the matchup) a little bit more. I think it helps (that I’ve been through it), but I’ve always been a guy who it didn’t matter who I’m facing.

“I just look at their hitters, and what I need to do against (the Tigers’) hitters, and they’ve got a good lineup over there. You’ve got to be careful with these guys.”

Shields enters the game at 1-2 with a 3.00 ERA in four starts. He turned over a 2-1 lead in the eighth inning last Saturday in Boston but got a no-decision when Kelvin Herrera yielded a three-run homer to Daniel Nava.

Verlander is 2-2 with a 2.13 ERA in four starts and will be looking to continue his career-long dominance over the Royals: 15-2 with a 2.73 ERA in 23 starts. Shields is 5-1 and 3.66 in nine career starts against the Tigers.

“I know everyone wants to make a big deal out of it,” manager Ned Yost said. “We just want to win a game. We feel like we’ve got a chance to compete in the game against Verlander with Shields.”

That, really, was the point, from the Royals’ view, of the Dec. 9 trade that acquired Shields, Wade Davis and Elliot Johnson from the Rays for Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard.

“I’ll go in there with the same mind-set as I do for every single start,” Shields said. “I feel if I pitch my game, I’ll be fine. Obviously, when you’re facing a guy like (Verlander), you can’t make too many mistakes.

“But I know that going in. I know that going into any start, really. So I don’t try to change too much.”

On the air

Fox Sports Kansas City added Thursday’s series finale to its broadcast schedule in large part because of the Shields/Verlander matchup. The game starts at 12:05 p.m. Central time.

Pregame coverage will start at 11:30 a.m.

The addition compensates for Tuesday’s rainout in FSKC’s 140-game contract.

Viewers in mid-Missouri and Iowa can watch the game on Fox Sports Midwest’s main channel.

Rehab updates

Left-hander Danny Duffy and righty Felipe Paulino each reached rehab milestones in their recovery from Tommy John surgery to replace a torn elbow ligament.

Duffy threw 15 pitches in an extended spring training game in Arizona that marked his first game action since exiting a May 13, 2012 start in Chicago.

Paulino threw 20 pitches of live batting practice for the first time since he departed a June 6 start against Minnesota at Kauffman Stadium.

“Right now, they are on protocol,” trainer Nick Kenney said. “They’re on time, but that’s just a statement at this time. We’re going to base (their progression) on how they feel. It’s part of the process.

“Fortunately, neither one of them has hit a snag. But we always try to build in some time for those snags because we expect that they’ll happen. As of right now, they have not.”

The current timetable for both pitchers is to be able to pitch five innings by the one-year anniversary dates of their surgeries: June 13 for Duffy; and July 3 for Paulino.

That doesn’t mean either one will be ready for big-league duty at that point.

“A lot of it depends on how they perform, really,” Kenney said. “Just because they’re at a year (in their recovery) doesn’t mean they’re performing at a major-league level. That’s up to our baseball operations people.

“But physiologically, they’re not going to get any better from a healing standpoint after a year. What’s healed is going to be healed. It’s there. Then it’s performing and adapting.”

New fan app

The Royals are unveiling a seat-upgrade technology Friday, when they open a 10-game homestand, that permits fans to “upgrade seats or get access to personalized experiences once at the ballpark.”

The technology comes as part of MLB.com’s At the Ballpark app, which is available free for iPhone, iPod touch and Android smartphones.

“Our goal is to help fans create lasting memories from their visits to the ballpark,” said Mike Bucek, the club’s vice president for marketing and business development.

“With (the new app), Royals fans gain a quick and easy way to upgrade their seats and enhance their trip to Kauffman Stadium.”

Fans can get additional information and download the app at royals.com/upgrade.

Minor details

While the Royals’ offense continues to cough and sputter, two familiar names are heating up at Class AAA Omaha after slow starts.

Outfielder David Lough is on a 19-for-42 binge over the last 10 games, which has raised his average to a club-leading .356. Second baseman Johnny Giavotella is 18 for 42 in his last 12 games and is now batting .313.

Looking back

It was 45 years ago Thursday — April 25, 1968 — that free-agent pitcher Jerry Lyscio became the first player signed by the Royals, who would not begin their inaugural season until 1969.

Lyscio, then 27, had pitched the three previous seasons in the Minnesota and Cleveland organizations. He pitched in 1968 at Dubuque, before the Royals assigned him in 1969 to Class A High Point-Thomasville.

The Royals released Lyscio after the 1969 season. He never pitched in the majors.

Etc.

The Royals started each of the first two innings with a sparkling defensive play. Left fielder Alex Gordon made a diving catch on Austin Jackson curling drive to the warning track in the first; and first baseman Eric Hosmer flagged Victor Martinez’s sharp hopper up the line to open the second.

Third baseman Mike Moustakas went hitless in four at-bats, which dropped his average to .148. He is two for 23 on the road trip, which concludes Thursday afternoon.

Chris Getz’s single in the third inning broke a zero-for-13 drought since his April 16 homer at Atlanta.

Luis Mendoza made his first appearance since an April 12 start against Toronto when he replaced Davis in the fourth inning. Mendoza allowed no runs and one hit in 2 ⅓ innings.

Reliever J.C. Gutierrez also pitched for the first time since April 12. He worked two scoreless innings after replacing Mendoza to start the seventh inning.

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