KANSAS CITY -- Royals right-hander James Shields and University of Kansas basketball coach Bill Self teamed up on Wednesday afternoon to film a public service announcement and raise awareness for KVC Health Systems, which supports foster families in the community.
"It's a tremendous honor to have coach Self out here helping the foster kids," Shields said. "To be able to have him come over and do a PSA to help out foster care and KVC, it's a great cause. It's the least that we can do as people who people look up to and it's awesome that he got to come out and do this with me."
Shields and his wife, Ryane, started working with foster kids and their families when he was with Tampa Bay through his Big Game James Club, which promoted normalcy and stability for foster children and provided a specially decorated suite for participants to watch Rays games. Ryane started her own photography business and the couple also works with the Heart Gallery, a traveling photo and audio exhibit created to find families for children in foster care. When Shields was traded to the Royals in the offseason, he chose to continue his work, and through Royals Charities he started the Big Game James section which hosts different groups of foster families at Royals games. One of those is KVC.
Self has served as a board member at KVC, giving talks and trying to promote the importance of strong families in the development of young people.
"I don't know if you really grasp it until you actually see how lives are impacted when kids are just given a chance," Self said. "In my profession, I get a chance to see that all the time. You take certain kids out of certain situations and everyone wonders are they a good kid, can they do the work, are they responsible, are they smart enough? You get them in the right situation and they are 10s in all those areas. Just to have kids being around a loving home, there is no limit on what these kids can accomplish, but they just need support and love."
A group of kids joined Shields and Self to film the PSA before batting practice on Wednesday. After their work was finished, the kids got autographs and pictures with the local celebrities.
"Those are two of the powerhouse players in Kansas City sports and the fact that they've taken an interest in KVC and what we do and the kids we work for, it's a pretty cool opportunity for us," said KVC corporate communications coordinator Emily Gairns. "A lot of them have overcome a lot of significant challenges and to have the opportunity to meet two people that I know a lot of them consider personal heroes is just a fun, really exciting day for them."
Royals' offense focus as Trade Deadline nears
KANSAS CITY -- It's non-waiver Trade Deadline month and Royals general manager Dayton Moore is, as always, on point.
"You're always looking to acquire talent that impacts your team for today and tomorrow," he said.
The area of most concern as the Royals' season hit the midway point with the 81st game on Wednesday night has been the inconsistent offense. For the most part, the upgraded pitching rotation has been very strong, the bullpen solid and the defense superb.
"We believe in our offense," Moore said. "We believe it's going to continue to trend upward and we really like the aggressiveness and the way we've swung the bats the last couple weeks of the season. We've got to believe in who we are and the answer for our team getting better lies within -- that the young players that we have, we've got to expect them to get better."
First baseman Eric Hosmer and third baseman Mike Moustakas, the young cornerstones of the attack, are on an upward track. Right fielder David Lough has infused new life and now Johnny Giavotella is getting a shot at uplifting the production at second base.
"Johnny's been one of our better hitters in the Minor Leagues and he's earned the opportunity, and we're pleased to have him out there," Moore said. "He's going to bring energy and toughness to our team and I like the fact that he's getting the chance."
As the Trade Deadline approaches on July 31 at 3 p.m. CT, the names of players coming up on free agency always surface in speculation and that group will include pitcher Ervin Santana, who's been very good in his first year with Kansas City.
"I mean, we need him, too. We're trying to win games," Moore said. "We expect to win games, we believe in our team. We need to make sure we're running out a quality starting pitcher every single night and Erv's done as well as anybody we've run out there."
The Royals are entering a crucial time in their schedule. Over the next four weeks, they're playing strong clubs in Cleveland, Oakland, the Yankees, Cleveland again and, after the All-Star break, Detroit and Baltimore. So when the end of the month approaches, the Royals will have a much better feel for how their chances shape up and that could affect any Deadline deals. For right now, Moore sounds like a man interested in only one thing.
"We're going to do what we've done all year and that's just keep battling every single night to win games," he said.
Power outage causes second delay in KC
KANSAS CITY -- A rain delay of two hours, 37 minutes wasn't the only hold-up for the Royals and Indians on Wednesday night.
At midnight CT, a computer glitch caused some banks of the Kauffman Stadium lights to go out. There was a 12-minute delay while the lights recycled and became bright enough for the game to continue.
During the pause, the Royals gave the fans a brief preview of the fireworks scheduled to follow the game.
FOX Sports to honor Okla. tornado victims
KANSAS CITY -- FOX Sports Kansas City will pay tribute to the Moore, Okla., tornado victims during pregame coverage of the Royals-Indians game on Thursday starting at 12:30 p.m. CT.
FOX will air a special feature titled: "The American Way," which will showcase the ways that baseball and softball teams across the nation aided in relief efforts with a focus on the Tupin family from Blue Springs, Mo.
The Tupins lived in Moore for five years and their 7-year-old, Zach, was close friends with Sydney Angle, a 9-year-old girl who lost her life in Plaza Towers Elementary School. Zach raised money for equipment for Sydney's softball team.
The Tupins are scheduled to appear live during the Royals pregame show and game.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. Kathleen Gier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.