02/14/2013 6:36 PM ET
Johnson willing to embrace utility role
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Utility player Elliot Johnson, obtained by the Royals after 11 years in the Tampa Bay organization, arrived on Thursday and admitted it felt different.
"It's like the first day of kindergarten because I don't know anybody and the few guys I do know, I guess you could say I know from daycare," Johnson said. "A lot of new faces but everybody's been real nice, everything's been squared away."
Johnson turned out to be the player to be named by the Rays, joining pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis in the trade to the Royals. He's listed as an infielder-outfielder.
"I like short, I like second, but I like my name in the lineup card more than anything," he said.
Johnson says he can play anywhere in the field even though he's played just seven games in the outfield during his 200-game Major League career.
"I played out there plenty, even when I was younger and in the Minor Leagues when they started making me a super-U guy," he said. "I'm comfortable out there and I've got plenty of arm for any of the positions out there and plenty of legs for any of them, too."
Johnson also brought a first baseman's mitt.
"If you need me to play anywhere, I'm not going to tell them no," he said.
Guthrie known by a series of numbers
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Wonder how new Royals pitcher James Shields managed to pry uniform No. 33 from Jeremy Guthrie, who wore it last year? Let's check with Guthrie.
"It's a family policy, we're not commenting on any of the negotiations that occurred. Just rest assured, he has No. 33 and I have No. 11," Guthrie said slyly.
Hmmm. Research shows that Guthrie is a real number-jumper. He's had at least six in his Major League career, sometimes switching to accommodate another player. Only once did he request a number -- 15 with the Rockies.
"I was given 53 when I was called up [by Cleveland] in '04, then they signed Arthur Rhodes and I was given 36 in the spring. The next year they signed Paul Byrd and I was given 57," Guthrie recalled. "I was released, claimed off waivers by the Orioles and was given 46 and wore that for five years. Traded to Colorado, I asked for 15; traded here, I was given 33. They got James Shields, he wanted 33, I was given 11."
Eleven is a rather unusual double digit for a pitcher.
"There are few of 'em -- Clay Buchholz, [Jarrod] Parker and [Yu] Darvish. You could make a nice rotation of 11s," Guthrie said.
We're beginning to suspect Guthrie is a numbers geek. When the rare single digit for a pitcher was mentioned, he rattled off three -- Josh Towers (7), Kyle Drabek (4) and Alex White (6).
Anyway, Shields explained that he'd worn No. 33 since his Hart High School days in California. "It's important to me," he said. And he knew that Guthrie had no strong attachment to it.
"If he cared about it and it was his favorite number, I wouldn't even have asked him," Shields said.
OK, so what was the price that Shields had to pay for the coveted number?
"I've got to take him out to McDonald's and get him a Big Mac and french fries," Shields said. "He's not a guy you have to please too much."
Davis retires from Royals' broadcast team
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Bob Davis is retiring as a Royals broadcaster after 16 years with the team.
Davis had planned all along to make 2012 his last season and retire quietly, but the news leaked out this week. He wanted to spend more time with his wife, Linda, and family.
"I'm going to miss it a lot. Now they'll probably start winning, which I hope they do," he said. "I'm still going to do football and basketball. The timing's good and we've got plenty of announcers. The lineup's loaded and they've got guys in the farm system."
One of the announcers in the farm system is his son, Steven Davis, who has handled play-by-play for the Royals' Double-A Northwest Arkansas club for the last five years.
Bob Davis will continue to call football and basketball games for the University of Kansas and next year will be his 30th. He's a 13-time winner of the Kansas Sportscaster of the Year Award.
Davis was on the Royals' radio network for the last five years after teaming with the late Paul Splittorff for many years on TV.
His time on radio broadcasts will be taken by Steve Stewart. Denny Matthews will return for his 45th season behind the mike, although he's cut back on his schedule in recent seasons. Ryan Lefebvre and Steve Physioc again will split time between radio and TV play-by-play.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.