Thursday might be the most hyped up 20 pitch performance that the Kansas City Royals organization has had in some time. I don’t mean to oversell James Shields one inning start against the San Diego Padres but every Royals fan will be keeping an eye on the performance.
What can be expected for one inning? How many strikes are thrown? Batters faced? How quick the outing is? I think they all can be focused on Thursday but I think a scoreless inning with a strikeout will be fine for most.
We obviously won’t know more about Shields until later in the spring when he gets more work in, however pitching in Arizona will be different than his previous camps in Florida. The scenery is different but the game is the same. Shields is a veteran and he’s going to go at a pace he’s comfortable with.
The interesting thing about the Shields start is that he asked for one inning and manager Ned Yost allowed it. Based on reading articles from Jerry Cransick of ESPN.com article it doesn’t seem like the clubhouse will have a problem with this request.
Again if he struggles in Thursday’s start you won’t see the billboards around town get taken down. Most fans won’t pan it if he struggles in a spring training start. “It’s still inevitable that Shields’s first Royals inning will be talked about and analyzed as people are always more anxious to pick apart spring performances.
Other newcomers to Surprise are Jeremy Guthrie who came to KC last July and Ervin Santana who are in their first camps with the Royals. Both have experience with pitching in Arizona during the spring but how they do with the Royals coaches watching their preparation will be interesting.
Wade Davis made his first start against the Cleveland Indians in Goodyear and even with it being two innings it went well. The goal will be be to stretch him out and he’ll get longer outings as spring continues but in some ways Davis going two innings allowing just one will allow peace of mind.
Silencing the Indians in February isn’t the same as doing so in April, May and so forth or just seeing a handful of hitters. Interested observers will need to see more in the coming starts.
When Shields takes the mound on Thursday, Royals fans will stop and pay attention. And considering what the Royals gave up, many might go check out the Rays and see what Wil Myers is up to. As of Wednesday Myers has three hits in seven at-bats for a .429 average.