ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. James Shields transition was never difficult, just a little weird. He is clear to make the distinction. The Tampa Bay Rays were his home, his professional family, for seven major league seasons. Something was formed in that time.
Comfort, yes. A workhorse reputation, sure. But also a bond to a place and its people. Those ties never disappear, even if his uniform has become a deeper shade of blue.
On Thursday evening, Shields was back in the bowels of Tropicana Field, speaking about his former life with the Rays and a new one with the Kansas City Royals. The visit was his first to his former stadium since he was part of a blockbuster trade in December that sent him to a franchise searching to contend in the American League Central. He was among friends.
The setting provided intrigue, but his sensation was not completely unfamiliar. The odd pangs of facing his former team were felt the first time at Kauffman Stadium, where he allowed two runs and five hits ...