As Wil Myers tore through the Minor Leagues last season, the Royals could easily imagine seeing him in Kauffman Stadium someday, crushing homers and driving in runs the way he's done this season for the Rays.
Kansas City will get a look at what could have been Monday afternoon, when Myers and Tampa Bay come to town to make up a May 2 game that was snowed out with a rare one-game trip in between series at Tropicana Field. Right-handers Jeremy Hellickson and Jeremy Guthrie will get the start, but all eyes likely will be on Myers.
The 22-year-old outfielder's last appearance at Kauffman Stadium came before a packed house at the 2012 Futures Game, and he remembers playing there in a Double-A vs. Triple-A game, but his days as a top prospect are now behind him.
"Now, I'll have a big league game there," said Myers, dealt from the Royals to the Rays in December as part of the trade headlined by James Shields. "I'm excited to play in Kansas City. I really want to win. That's the biggest thing."
Royals manager Ned Yost, who saw Myers in spring camp, called him a "great kid, fun to watch, enjoys playing the game," but also noted that the offseason trade "absolutely" worked out for Kansas City as well.
Shields certainly has given the Royals a boost, posting a 3.22 ERA over 181 2/3 innings and leading a pitching staff with the second-best ERA in the American League. But Myers has hit .302/.356/.472 with nine homers and 39 RBIs since being called up, and the Rays should have him in the middle of their order for years to come.
Shields beat the Rays back on April 30, and fellow former Ray Wade Davis beat his former club on June 16. Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon is hoping that Myers can hold up his end of the bargain.
"I love it. Every time we play somebody that's played against us, they beat us up. Maybe he can do something in return," Maddon said. "I know he's excited about it, and I'm excited for him. I know he'll be a little more jacked up than normal. It's good to get that out of the way."
Maddon noted that he'd be able to tell if Myers is more excited than usual on this trip -- "He's a bad liar," Maddon said -- but the low-key rookie slugger hasn't put too much thought into his first Major League trip to what could have been his home field.
"I'm really excited about it," Myers said. "That's all I got."
Rays: Hellickson seeking consistency
Hellickson, like Myers, doesn't show too much emotion. But Maddon said it's been easy to tell the right-hander is not happy with how he's pitched lately. After going 8-1 with a 3.17 ERA from June 2-July 26, Hellickson is 0-4 with an 8.06 ERA over his last five starts.
The difference, Hellickson said, is as simple as fastball command. When he's able to consistently locate his fastball, everything else falls into place. When he can't find the zone, everything else suffers as a result.
"I think that's the main thing with all three of my pitches right now. They're just too inconsistent to be effective," Hellickson said. "I've got to get back to getting ahead and throwing strikes with all three of them, getting quickers outs and going deeper into the game."
• Left-hander Matt Moore (left elbow soreness) felt only "normal soreness" on Sunday, a day after throwing a simulated game. Moore hasn't pitched in a game since July 28 but said he's "not going to try and be the hero when I don't need to" regarding his return to the Rays' rotation.
Royals: Smith called up again
With Luke Hochevar placed on paternity leave Sunday, the Royals recalled left-handed reliever Will Smith from Triple-A Omaha. In seven stints with Kansas City this year, Smith has made eight appearances, including one start, going 1-1 with a 3.27 ERA in 22 innings. In between those outings, he's grown quite familiar with the road between Omaha and Kansas City.
"You're just excited to be back," Smith said. "You can't complain about coming back to the big leagues, it doesn't matter how many times it is. You're ready to get in the car and go."
• Guthrie held the White Sox scoreless through three innings Wednesday before giving up five runs on five hits in the fourth. He left after six innings, suffering his third straight loss. With a win Monday, he can become Kansas City's first 13-game winner since Zack Greinke won 16 in 2009.
• Hellickson will have about 10-15 friends and family in Kansas City for his start, but he won't have four of his biggest supporters. The Rays' other starters stayed in Tampa Bay between Sunday's series finale against the Yankees and Tuesday's game against the Angels at Tropicana Field.
"It'll be pretty weird. I'm used to giving them high-fives every inning at the top step," Hellickson said. "I don't know who'll be there. It'll be different."
• At first pitch on May 2, the temperature at Kauffman Stadium was 41 degrees. The forecast for Monday's first pitch? Just a bit higher: 91 degrees.