04/01/2013 5:10 PM ET
Cold conditions don't dampen Opening Day excitement
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Billy Butler ambled through the Royals' clubhouse before Monday's opener with a baseball undershirt in his hand.
"Do you have any sweatshirts that are thicker than this?" he asked a clubhouse attendant.
That seemed to be the Opening Day theme for the cold mid-afternoon inaugural contest at U.S. Cellular Field. Ski caps, hoodies and long johns were the order of the day. Ah, good ol' batting gloves.
"The cold weather's good -- I ain't kiddin' ya, man" manager Ned Yost said. "Back in the days when we were competing for championships every year in Atlanta and in Milwaukee, when it started to get cold it just signaled something inside of you: 'Hey, it's getting that time.'
W: Sale L: Shields SV: Reed
"We're out of the hot weather, into the cold weather where it's that change in your body that says, 'Hey, it's for real now.' That's what it does -- it changes your approach, subconsciously."
The sun was out and the game-time temperature was 44 degrees. Is such weather harder on the hitters or the pitchers?
"I think it's tough for both guys. Pitchers, it's tough to get a good grip and hitters, it's tough to keep those hands warm," first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "So it's probably about the same for each."
And, yes, the bat might sting the hands a bit.
"If you hit a certain spot, maybe get jammed or something, it'll sting a little longer than a normal summer day, but most of us have played in the Midwest, in the Minor Leagues and opened up there, so we have a pretty good idea of what it's like," Hosmer said.
"I think the pitchers do have the advantage," pitcher Bruce Chen said, "because once we get warmed up, we stay warm. It doesn't bother us or affect us as much. But the hitters are out there in the cold, they come back in and they have to hit and the hands are cold and they're not moving as good. Now, if you make bad pitches, everyone will get you but everything being equal and everyone being ready, I think pitchers have the advantage."
Right fielder Jeff Francoeur says players largely disregard the elements.
"We've all played in it. Last year, we were lucky and got to play in L.A. and it was 72 and this year we're playing in cold weather," Francoeur said. "But when you get out there and the juices get flowing, sure it's a little cold, your hands are cold but we've got the heaters in the dugout and you're going to be so amped up, who cares?"
And, as all quickly pointed out, the White Sox were playing in the same conditions.
"It's always fun, Opening Day is a blast," Francoeur said. "I always tell people: If you win or lose on Opening Day, it's not the end of the year. It doesn't mean the Rangers aren't going to make the playoffs because they lost [Sunday] night, but it's always fun just to get the regular season going and get some regular season at-bats."
Royals add experience to the 2013 mix
CHICAGO -- The Royals added six players who have played in the postseason to their 2013 roster.
The only other such player on the roster previously was right fielder Jeff Francoeur, with postseason teams at Atlanta and Texas. Shortstop Alcides Escobar was on a postseason roster with Milwaukee but did not play.
The Royals added pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis and infielder-outfielder Elliot Johnson from Tampa Bay postseason teams in their big trade. They also dealt for pitcher Ervin Santana, a playoff vet with the Los Angeles Angels, and signed infielder Miguel Tejada (Oakland) and catcher George Kottaras (Milwaukee and Oakland).
Tejada, Francoeur, Santana and Shields have the most postseason exposure.
Manager Ned Yost sees having players with meaningful October games on their resume as a big plus.
"It's very, very important. We have such a good young core group of players. This year we focused on getting not only guys that are talented but have winning experience and leadership abilities," he said.
Even veteran players without playoff experience can have a positive effect.
"If you noticed last year, even though he came from a new team and was still kind of feeling his way around, Jeremy Guthrie changed the whole complexion of our starting staff. We were really struggling until he got on a roll," Yost said.
"Now with Shields, Wade Davis, Santana, Elliot, Miguel Tejada -- they've got everything they need inside that locker room to go with [Francoeur], [Luke Hochevar] and Alex Gordon. The leadership that we have in our locker room now is phenomenal. You need quality leadership to keep everybody grounded. You need it when you're going good and you especially need it when you're not going good. The manager does it but the less you have to do, the better off it's going to be for everybody involved. That's where having veteran leadership in the locker room is so valuable."
Perez in lineup for first Opening Day start
CHICAGO -- Catcher Salvador Perez was the only player on the Royals' roster experiencing his first Opening Day.
Last year, the promising young catcher was on crutches back at the training complex in Surprise, Ariz., after undergoing knee surgery. That kept him out for most of the season's first half.
"I stayed in Arizona for a few days, then went to Kansas City for the opener there," Perez said.
However, on Monday, he was behind the plate for James Shields' first start for the Royals. Perez went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts in the club's 1-0 loss.
For teammate Miguel Tejada, though, it was his 14th Opening Day.
Chen reaches 10-year milestone on Opening Day
CHICAGO -- Royals pitcher Bruce Chen officially became a 10-year man on Opening Day.
It takes 172 days on a Major League roster to record one year of service time and Chen entered Monday's game with nine years, 171 days accumulated in 14 difference Major League seasons.
To mark the occasion, pitcher Kelvin Herrera made up a placard reading "Ten Years of Service" with the obligatory smiley face and taped it to the front of Chen's shirt.
How long did it take Chen to do it?
"Ohhhhh, I started playing when I was 16," he said.
Chen, 35, signed out of Panama with the Braves in 1993.
Jackson throws first pitch in front of former teams
CHICAGO -- Bo Jackson played for both the Royals and the White Sox, so it was appropriate that the flamboyant slugger and football star threw out the ceremonial first pitch on Monday.
"I can bet anybody in here that my team is going to win this afternoon," Jackson kiddingly told reporters during the game. "My team is out on the field right now. I guarantee you my team is going to win."
It was 20 years ago, on April 9, 1993, that Jackson returned to the White Sox after undergoing surgery to receive an artificial hip and belted a home run in his first appearance, as a pinch-hitter against the Yankees' Neal Heaton.
"The only way that it feels like it's been 20 years is that out of both teams, I bet I don't know but about five players and I played for both teams," he said.
Although Jackson tossed the pitch at the White Sox invitation, he was outwardly neutral, wearing a plain black cap with no team emblem.
Jackson played outfield for the Royals and running back for the Raiders as he combined careers before sustaining a hip injury in football in 1991. He's remembered for his "Bo Knows" Nike ad campaign and his extraordinary feats are still shown on stadium video boards.
He's a candidate for the Royals Hall of Fame currently being voted on by an election committee.
"We need 25 captains to get to where we want to go." -- manager Ned Yost, asked if he might appoint a team captain.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.