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Once a cornerstone, Shields returns to the Trop a visitor

A 16th-round Draft pick in 2000, James Shields spent 12 years in the Rays organization before being traded last offseason to the Royals. Thursday marked his first trip back to Tropicana Field since the trade, and though he was comfortable inside the Trop, he didn't quite feel at home in the visitors clubhouse.

"The Rays were my family," Shields said. "It's a little weird being on the other side."

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Though Shields won't pitch in the four-game series vs. the Rays, he still had quite a homecoming. David Price, his former teammate, was throwing a simulated game in the afternoon as part of his rehab process from a strained triceps, and Shields quickly showed how close he is with his old teammate by stepping into the batter's box against him. He did, however, decide against taking any hacks against the 2012 AL Cy Young winner, noting that he wanted to keep his .333 season average (1-for-3) intact.

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The Rays posted a video montage of Shields' many highlights during his Rays career on the jumbotron with a closing message that read, "Thanks for the memories, James." The Tropicana Field crowd rose for a standing ovation, and "Big Game James" stepped out of the dugout and tipped his cap in appreciation.

A nice moment for the pitcher who helped transform the Rays organization.

-- Jonathan Gantt / MLB.com Real-Time Correspondent