Feb 24, 2014; Surprise, AZ, USA; Kansas City Royals pitcher James Shields poses for a portrait during photo day at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

James Shields, Jason Vargas to start '14 for Royals

A familiar face and a new face will begin the season for the 2014 Kansas City Royals.

When the Royals open the season at Detroit on March 31st, it will be a big game. The club is coming off of its first winning season in a decade and look to start off the season on the right foot against the defending American League Central champions. It’s only appropriate that “Big Game” James Shields will toe the rubber for Kansas City.

The second game will be pitched by newcomer and free agent lefty Jason Vargas. After pitching for the Los Angeles Angels, Vargas signed a four-year, $32-million contract early in the off season with the Royals.

Last season, James Shields proved every bit the ace that the Royals gave up top prospect Wil Meyers for, as they traded him to the Tampa Bay Rays. Shields pitched 228.2 innings over 34 starts, posting a 13-9 record and a 3.15 ERA. He is one of baseball’s most durable pitchers, having pitched well over 200 innings in every season of his career, except for his rookie campaign. He will also be a free agent at the end of the season, and while he is open to an extension with the Royals, he has said he will not negotiate a contract with them during the season.

Vargas had an injury shortened season in Los Angeles, pitching in only 150 innings over 24 starts. He put up a 9-8 record with a 4.02 ERA. He had been a solid number two pitcher in the Seattle Mariners organization behind Felix Hernandez, and Kansas City is hoping that he will benefit from the change in division.

Tags: Kansas City Royals

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