Felix Doubront hasn't pitched since Aug. 9 due to a right knee contusion, but he was activated from the disabled list on Saturday and will make the start for the Red Sox in the third of a four-game wraparound set with the Royals.
Doubront will have a very different team playing behind him. Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford both started in his last appearance, but they, along with pitcher Josh Beckett, are now members of the Los Angeles Dodgers. James Loney should be in a Red Sox uniform as one of the trade's returning pieces.
Like the rest of the Red Sox, Doubront's fortunes have taken a turn for the worse as the summer has worn on. But he's 10-6 on the year, and a win Sunday would match Clay Buchholz for the club lead. Doubront hasn't won since July 18, and his two August starts have been troublesome. He's pitched just 9 1/3 innings and allowed nine runs on 15 hits and six walks.
Doubront has faced the Royals once previously this season. He picked up his second win of the year after defeating Kansas City on May 7 at Kauffman Stadium. He allowed five runs (three earned) in 6 1/3 innings in Boston's 11-5 win.
While the mega-deal might push the Red Sox in a youthful direction, the Royals are firmly pointed that way. They'll send rookie lefty Will Smith to the mound against Doubront. Smith's last outing was the shortest since his Major League debut -- 3 2/3 innings against the Rays, allowing four runs on eight hits.
The rough go in Tampa Bay snapped a modest two-game winning streak for Smith, who's 4-5 this season with a 5.40 ERA.
Smith made his Major League debut at Yankee Stadium in May, but Sunday will mark his first game at Fenway Park, which he's spent the last few days exploring. The lefty said he's not going to be bothered by the historic stadium.
"Everything's a lot easier now. You're not overwhelmed by everything," Smith said.
Royals: Cooling off on the road
After a hot homestand that saw the Royals go 6-1, the following road trip hasn't been as kind. The team is 2-4 in its first six games against Tampa Bay and Boston, while hitting a collective .214. Before the Royals' 10-9 extra-inning win Saturday night, they had scored just eight runs and amassed only four extra-base hits in the trip's first four contests.
Designated hitter Billy Butler went 3-for-6 in Saturday's game against the Red Sox. Butler has always hit well at Fenway Park. In 21 career games, he boasts a .321 batting average with three home runs and 17 RBIs.
Red Sox: Podsednik pleased with Fenway
Outfielder Scott Podsednik is tearing it up at Fenway Park since joining the Red Sox on Aug. 9. He's picked up a base hit in 11 of his 12 starts, and he's posted a .435 average in 14 total games at Fenway this season. His career average of .385 is the highest among active players with a minimum of 70 plate appearances in Boston.
The remainder of the season is a question mark for David Ortiz. The designated hitter was out of the lineup Saturday after making his return from the disabled list on Friday. His right Achilles tendon was sore and bothering him following a 2-for-4 performance that extended his hitting streak to 12 games.
Podsednik has always hit his former team well -- sporting a .320 average in 63 career games against the Royals.
Eric Hosmer's home run Friday night was the second of his career at Fenway Park. He has homered at least twice in half of the stadiums in the American League. The only AL ballparks he hasn't homered in are Baltimore's Camden Yards and Tampa Bay's Tropicana Field.