Shields makes home debut vs Blue Jays

(AP) — Though his transition back to the AL hasn’t gone as planned, reigning NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey doesn’t appear too worried.

Greater concern surely surrounds the loss of Jose Reyes, who will begin a lengthy absence Saturday night as the visiting Toronto Blue Jays continue a three-game set against the Kansas City Royals.

Reyes drove in two runs before getting carted off with an ankle injury in the sixth inning of Friday’s 8-4 series-opening win. The four-time All-Star, who was hurt while stealing second base, will go on the disabled list and could be out as little as four weeks if his ankle is only sprained.

However, if the injury is any worse, general manager Alex Anthopoulos said “the other scenario could be three months, or if something comes up we’re not expecting, it could be more than that.”

Reyes, batting a team-leading .395 in his first season with Toronto, tweeted after the game that “Sunny days wouldn’t be special if it wasn’t for rain.”

“Jose is great. He’s a big part of this team. I can’t emphasize that enough,” Anthopoulos said. “Every team goes through these things. I don’t believe we’re a team built on one player, no matter how great a player it is. Just continue to move forward.”

The Blue Jays will try to do just that behind Dickey (0-2, 8.44 ERA).

The veteran knuckleballer put together a magnificent campaign with the New York Mets last year, going 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA and an NL-best 230 strikeouts. Dickey, though, hasn’t been able to get things together since landing in Toronto (4-6) this offseason.

After giving up four runs and four walks over six innings of a 4-1 loss to Cleveland on April 2, Dickey was tagged for eight runs and 10 hits before being pulled with two outs in the fifth inning Sunday in a 13-0 defeat to Boston.

“The first couple of times through the rotation, sometimes you’re trying to find your way and find your release point,” he told MLB’s official website. “I’m not panicked. But I know I’ve got some work to do. I’m anxious to get back on the hill.

“You have to have aptitude in this game, and there are some things I can get better at that I’ve identified on some video after the game, and we’ll see what happens.”

Dickey has lost three of four career starts against Kansas City (6-4) while compiling a 6.14 ERA, though his last one came back in 2004 while with Texas. Despite his early season struggles, the Royals know they could have their hands full Saturday.

“Obviously, the rule of thumb with a knuckleball – I’ve faced Tim Wakefield the last few years – is ‘If it’s high, let it fly; if it’s low, let it go,'” Royals designated hitter Billy Butler said. “It’s a little bit different – Dickey throws it harder. If the ball’s moving everywhere and he’s on, it’s going to be tough.”

Royals fans, meanwhile, get a chance to see the team’s own big-name pitching acquisition in person for the first time with James Shields slated to make his home debut. Brought in from Tampa Bay this offseason, Shields (1-1, 3.75 ERA) lasted six innings in each of his first two starts, striking out 14 and walking none.

The right-hander has been lights out over six matchups against the Blue Jays since the start of 2011, going 5-0 with a 0.94 ERA while striking out 50 in 47 2-3 innings. He’s had his way with Edwin Encarnacion (2 for 14), Adam Lind (1 for 14), J.P. Arencibia (1 for 12) and Jose Bautista (2 for 11) over that stretch, though Arencibia and Bautista both took him deep.