Rockies closer Greg Holland arrived at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday afternoon, and instead of turning toward the Royals’ clubhouse like he did an untold number of times throughout his six-year tenure in Kansas City, he headed to the visitors’ locker room.
It didn’t faze him much — not that he would admit it.
“I try to keep it like a job. It keeps me from getting emotional on the mound,” he said. “I was part of something really special here. I’m proud of that. It’s been a little different than just going to any other ballpark, but hopefully I’ll be able to keep those emotions in check out there on the mound.”
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Plenty has changed for Holland since he last pitched here. He had his right elbow reconstructed, making room for a new ulnar collateral ligament. He was chosen an All-Star for the third time in his career. There’s a newborn at home, his second child, born at the end of July.
And if he can get himself back on track — he’s posted a 7.94 ERA and blown a pair of saves through 12 appearances in the second half — Holland might be on his way to matching his season-high for saves (47, set in 2013). He has recorded 35 saves for the wild-card-leading Rockies with six weeks of the season to go.
“You’re a little apprehensive about going to a new team for the first time, not really knowing what to expect,” Holland said. “But the transition going to Colorado was really easy for me. It worked out well. I enjoyed my time here but that’s just part of baseball. People move on. It’s been a really fun year for me this year.”
Despite all that, the Royals did not let his career in Kansas City be overlooked. The team dedicated a pregame video montage to Holland, who ranks fourth in franchise history with 145 saves, before the first pitch of Tuesday’s game.
It remains to be seen if he’ll inspire a standing ovation, a la Jarrod Dyson, whenever he takes the mound at Kauffman Stadium for the first time this series. But he did receive raucous applause during the tribute.
“I try not to think about that stuff,” Holland said. “Many, many good memories playing here. It culminated with a World Series. It’s really cool and I’m so glad I got the opportunity to do some of those incredible things here.”