Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Royal Rundown

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Royal Rundown

Article excerpt

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Royals haven't been home for opening day since 2011. But Monday's 3:10 p.m. game against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium has all the makings of a memorable one.

For starters, the Royals will celebrate last year's improbable American League championship and run to the World Series with a special pregame celebration. But after that, it's back to work in hopes of defending their AL crown while also getting a glimpse into the future.

On the mound for the Royals will be right-hander Yordano Ventura, the team's ace now that James Shields is in San Diego. Ventura will face Chicago right-hander Jeff Samardzija in his first opening day start, which comes just two days after signing a five-year contract worth $23 million.

"I just feel good," Ventura said through translator Jeremy Guthrie. "I'm excited about it and am grateful that (manager) Ned (Yost) and the team has confidence in me to go out there. I'm going to go out there and I'll enjoy it and do my best."

Last year as a rookie, Ventura went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA. He also pitched five times in the postseason, including four starts, and was the winning pitcher in Game 6 of the World Series.

He showed he had the ability to be an ace all last season. Now the Royals are counting on him to be that this year and in the future, which is why Royals general manager Dayton Moore essentially gave himself a deadline to get a deal done with his flame-throwing right-hander.

The deadline, of course, was opening day as neither side wanted any distractions during the season.

"It was somewhat of urgency," Moore said. "We needed to try to get something done before opening day or just table the discussions. Both sides were very willing to try to get something done. He's a terrific talent, unbelievable. Really, he's a once in a 10-year type talent that comes along, and we have to move forward and try to get those types of players signed long term, and fortunately it worked."

The Royals return largely intact from last year's team that fell one win short of a world championship. …

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