Lorenzo Cain, one of the most popular players in Kansas City Royals history, made his first trip back to Kauffman Stadium Tuesday afternoon, leading off and playing center field for his new team, the Milwaukee Brewers.
He arrived at Kauffman Stadium and spent more than two hours in the same clubhouse he called home for seven seasons, visiting with his former teammates about a career that included two World Series appearances, an American League Championship Series MVP Award and a memorable 2015 championship season.
“I got here about 1 (p.m.) today, and spent, gosh, two hours in the clubhouse talking with the boys,” said Cain, whose personality and stellar defensive play in center made him an immediate fan favorite. “We talked about so many things – family, the 2014 and 2015 seasons, me scoring from first (on Eric Hosmer’s single in the deciding playoff game against Toronto), Hoz (Hosmer) scoring from third (in the deciding fifth game of the 2015 World Series), all those things. I looked at the clock and it was like two hours. It didn’t seem, that long, but it was. And it was great.”
Cain held an impromptu news conference late in the afternoon where Royals manager Ned Yost conducts his postgame interviews, and as if it was on cue, Cain’s best buddy from his playing days in Kansas City – All-Star catcher Salvador Perez, who returned from the disabled list Tuesday to play his first game of 2018 – interrupted to take a selfie.
“That guy,” said Cain, flashing that million dollar smile, “we had some good times. You know, he called me from FanFest this year (when he was on stage doing an interview). He doesn’t call me as much as a lot of you might think, but we keep in touch.”
When asked if he might steal a base off Perez, Cain quipped, “It would be nice to get a steal. We’ll see what happens.”
Cain, who now bats leadoff for the 15-9 Brewers, said he was anticipating his first at-bat against the Royals.
“When I got here today, I had chills,” admitted Cain, who signed autographs, posed for photos and took selfies with fans for more than a half hour after batting practice. “And I’m a little nervous. And I don’t get nervous. But I’m excited and nervous and can’t wait to see what my first at-bat is like tonight.
“I know Salvy is going to find some way to get a selfie.”
There was no selfie – just a thunderous ovation from the fans.
As Cain emerged from the Brewers dugout, the applause started behind the visitor’s dugout and soon swept through the entire stadium.
Cain embraced Perez, and the Royals catcher patted his friend on the head.
Sporting that smile, Cain removed his batting helmet and waved to the fans. He then noticed everyone in the Royals dugout was also standing and applauding, and that seemed to catch him a bit off guard.
“I grew up here,” said Cain, who arrived in Kansas City in 2011 as part of the deal that sent Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke to the Brewers. “I got married here, raised a family here, appeared in two World Series and won one and made so many friends – so, so many friends.
“I’m excited about the new chapter in my life, but I will never forget my time in Kansas City.”
And from the reception he received on, and off the field, neither will we.
– Bill Althaus is a sports writer and columnist for The Examiner. Reach him at email@example.com or 816-350-6333. Follow him on Twitter: @AlthausEJC