BOSTON -- Most sought interviewee in the Royals' clubhouse before Monday night's game against the Red Sox? Right fielder Jeff Francoeur, renewed subject of Boston trade rumors now that J.D. Drew is injured? Nope. Manager Ned Yost? Naw.
It was relief pitcher Tim Collins, who's from nearby Worcester, Mass., and was making his first visit as a Major Leaguer. He was surrounded by area reporters, telling his story for the better part of an hour.
"I guess you could say I'm coming home. I'm only about 35, 40 minutes from here -- if you drive fast," Collins said. "And usually the people in Boston do drive fast."
The diminutive left-hander grew up an ardent Red Sox fan and one of his favorites was pitcher Pedro Martinez.
"I liked him because he was always goofing around, having fun," Collins said. "He showed what the whole Red Sox team was about, having fun -- when you're winning, you're having fun and when you're having fun, that helps win ballgames."
Collins left tickets for about 10 close family members, but expected an invasion of former coaches, old buddies and high school friends as well throughout Fenway Park.
As a youngster, Collins made it to Fenway several times as a fan. His last visit was when he was 15 and was invited along with his Babe Ruth League team that had made the regional finals.
"We got to walk out of that gate in center field and we could only stand on the warning track, so I touched the grass with my toe," Collins said. "The first thing I did when I got out there today was lay down in the grass and did like a snow angel. They can't yell at me now for touching the grass."
And Collins made a perfect debut at Fenway later Monday night as he pitched the seventh inning and retired the Red Sox one-two-three.
First Fenway visit gives rookies chills
BOSTON -- It was the first live look at Fenway Park for some of the Royals' eight rookies and for an initial impression, we go to reliever Nate Adcock.
"Cold chills," said Adcock. "It's a neat atmosphere and nobody's even here yet. Shagging BP was a pretty neat thrill."
That was during the Royals' early afternoon batting practice -- their regular BP was rained out later -- when no fans had yet entered the park.
"You see it on TV and you come here and it's mind-boggling -- the history behind it and everything that's gone on here with the Red Sox," Adcock said.
Fenway opened in 1912, so this is the 100th year that Major League baseball has been played in it. The 100th anniversary party is next year.
"This place is incredible," said third baseman Mike Moustakas. "It's such an old-school feeling. You just think about all the guys that have played on this field, it's just nuts. Ted Williams, everybody."
The closest Moustakas had come previously was when, as a kid, he played in a replica Fenway at Cathedral City, Calif.
"It's always been kind of a dream to come here and it's just awesome," he said.
The visiting clubhouse at Fenway is tiny compared to the spacious accommodations in the newer ballparks.
"That's what makes Fenway Fenway," Adcock said. "You appreciate being cramped up. It's part of it."
Pitching inside a work in progress for staff
BOSTON -- Around the All-Star break, manager Ned Yost and pitching coach Bob McClure told the Royals' pitching staff they needed to work more on the inside part of the plate.
"You have to reduce the opposition's comfort level in the box and we've done that, for the most part, since the All-Star Game on," Yost said. "You can't get let them get in there and be totally comfortable and whack your ears off. You've got to stand up and say, 'Hey, enough's enough' somewhere."
The plan still has a few flaws. For example, the four hit batters in Sunday's 5-0 loss to Tampa Bay meant that Kansas City's pitchers had plunked 10 hitters over the six-game homestand compared to 28 hit batters in the previous 95 games.
"It just shows they're not too proficient at it yet," Yost said.
"The problem you run into is they want to go inside, but they don't want to hit anybody which results in leaving the ball middle-in which gets hammered. So you have to get past that point. You have to go through a period of time when that [hit batters] happens. We can't just keep getting spanked, just keep throwing the ball down the middle or on the outside part of the plate and let teams just kill us."
The Royals still have the second-worst ERA in the American League, giving up more runs than any club except the Orioles.
"To reverse that, we have to pitch more aggressively inside and you almost have to have the attitude that you're going in there and if you hit somebody, you hit somebody," Yost said. "There's no malice intended. We're not trying to hit guys, but you have to be able to get to that fine line where you can pitch in there effectively. We're not quite there yet, but I applaud the fact that the pitchers are trying to get it done."
Mike Aviles, a right-handed batter, was in Monday night's lineup at third base, giving left-handed Mike Moustakas a break against a tough left-hander, Jon Lester. A similar move is planned for Tuesday night with Aviles giving Chris Getz a break against Red Sox lefty Andrew Miller.
In a walk-off note, Elias Sports Bureau found that Eric Hosmer's game-ending hit on Saturday night was his second this year, and that's the most game-ending RBIs for a Royals rookie since Jon Nunnally's three in 1995. That also rated as Hosmer's ninth game-winning RBI, fourth-most by a rookie in team history behind Carlos Beltran's 14 in 1999, Ken Harvey's 10 in 2003 and Clint Hurdle's 10 in 1978.
Catcher Salvador Perez was the Texas League Player of the Week with a .348 (8-for-23) average, two homers and 10 RBIs for Northwest Arkansas. Overall, he's batting .273 with 14 doubles, eight homers and 37 RBIs in 77 games.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.