3/8/2014 8:21 P.M. ET
Up to Shields to reverse Opening Day skid
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Royals have lost their last five season openers and have not even scored in the last two, so they could use a change of fortune on March 31 in Detroit.
Perhaps James Shields, tapped as the Opening Day pitcher on Saturday, can do something about it. He tried last year in Chicago.
"Last year I faced Chris Sale, and he was pretty much on his game and it was a 1-0 loss. We're definitely going to try to start off on the right foot, but we're not going to put too much emphasis on the first game," Shields said.
Sure, it is just the first of 162 games, but winning the first one is always nice.
This will be Shields' sixth Opening Day assignment; he made four for the Rays. At any opener, there is a tremendous amount of pregame hoopla that a starting pitcher must try to tune out.
"I'm going to have to treat it as any other start and go out there and try to get us a win," Shields said. "It's the start of the season; it's a special day. It's an exciting day for everybody in baseball, and any time you start on Opening Day you still have those first-game jitters."
Or maybe the shivers, considering what the weather might be like in Detroit.
"Hopefully it's not going to be 18 degrees and I have to tune out the cold," Shields said. "But I guess I'm lucky that I'm throwing the ball. I'm going to be a lot hotter than most of the guys out there. I think our outfielders are probably going to be the coldest."
The Tigers have not announced their Opening Day starter, but it will be either Justin Verlander or Max Scherzer. Their lineup features the dangerous Miguel Cabrera, who has hit .425 (17-for-40) against Shields.
"They've got a good lineup over there. They're always a threat," Shields said.
Butler getting results in spring, and ignoring them
PHOENIX -- Designated hitter Billy Butler, who picked up two hits, both singles, in Saturday's 7-6 loss to the Brewers, is far from satisfied despite a .348 (8-for-23) average this spring.
"Spring Training numbers don't matter; it's how you feel at the plate," Butler said. "If anybody's telling you they're feeling great right now, they'd be lying to you. It's early. We've only played like six, seven, eight games, and you're just trying to get your timing back and everything like that. That's the biggest thing I'm struggling with -- getting timing and seeing pitches. That's why you have so many games in spring to do that."
Butler has just one extra-base hit, a triple that came after his liner skipped past the right fielder. He barely missed a double Saturday on a drive that fell foul. Then he struck out for the seventh time.
"The results are the results," he said. "I'm getting my hits here and there. I'd like to drive the ball more, but I think that'll come."
Coleman has perfect frame in return to hill
PHOENIX -- Right-handed reliever Louis Coleman finally got his campaign for a Royals bullpen berth underway on Saturday with one perfect inning.
Coleman's Cactus League launch was delayed by a jammed middle finger on his pitching hand.
"It was good, much better," Coleman said. "It was good to get back on the mound. The adrenaline makes it a little different. So far, so good."
The finger was no problem as Coleman got a tap back to the mound, a strikeout and a fly-out.
"I thought Coleman was excellent, and that's good for us," manager Ned Yost said. "He threw the ball well, had a good slider, no ill effects off of it."
The finger is still slightly swollen.
"It'll probably be sore tomorrow, but we'll see," Coleman said.
Davis no stranger to coming role as reliever
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- How important was the decision to assign Wade Davis to the Royals' bullpen? Important enough that it was being discussed in the predawn hours of Saturday by manager Ned Yost and general manager Dayton Moore.
"I thought about it all night last night and talked to Dayton at 5 o'clock in the morning today about it -- and he agreed -- and I just went ahead and did it," Yost said Saturday. "Now's the time to do it."
Davis, normally a starter, was in competition for the fifth starting job, but he spent all of 2012 in the Tampa Bay bullpen and the last month of 2013 in the Royals' bullpen. So he knew it was a definite possibility.
"I had an understanding for the last four months about decisions that needed to be made," Davis said. "I feel good about the way I'm throwing right now, and I know no matter what happened I feel like I'm going to be successful and this is what they want to do."
Davis, a 6-foot-5 right-hander, has good numbers as a reliever. In 61 games, he has a 5-1 record, a 2.24 ERA and 94 strikeouts in 80 1/3 innings. But most of his career has been spent as a starter.
"For me to argue about it would be stupid, so I'll happily take the job and go out there and do some real damage with the rest of this bullpen," he said.
Yost said Davis would be primarily a late-inning reliever with even a save situation possible if closer Greg Holland needed a break. Davis has no saves in his career.
"Holly's pretty good; I don't think that'll be the case," Davis said. "He's a pretty healthy guy, too, so I don't think we have to worry about that."
• Right-hander Jeremy Guthrie on Saturday pitched in a Minor League intrasquad game at the Surprise complex, throwing 45 pitches over three innings. He gave up two runs (one earned), two hits and one walk.
• Although starter John Lamb gave up four runs in the first inning to the Brewers on Saturday, Yost said: "I think there were probably some nerves there -- his first start in the big leagues and there were a lot of people here today. For young pitchers, it's an experience factor for them."
• The Royals still have 57 players in camp, but, with the Minor League side in full swing now, there will most likely be some cuts soon.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.