Royals left-hander Kris Bubic was determined to watch and learn and use his first taste of the Major Leagues as a massive learning experience. In that way, last week’s debut served its purpose. That’s also how he’s approaching his second start, on Wednesday against the Cubs at Kauffman Stadium (7:05 p.m. CT, live on MLB.TV). One more step in what he hopes will be a long journey.
“The first time, I'd say, there's always maybe a sense of doubt,” Bubic said Tuesday. “Like, 'Oh, I'm finally here.’ I know now that I have the stuff and ability to compete at this level, and now it's just obviously fine-tuning that and getting the consistency up to par going forward.”
Bubic's debut lasted four innings and included a couple of hit batters in a 3-2 loss to the White Sox. Chicago right fielder Adam Engel tagged Bubic for a three-run home run in the second inning, and that was all the runs he allowed. One of those runs was unearned.
“I'm trying to soak it all in as much as I can,” said Bubic, ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Royals' No. 7 prospect. “The circumstances may be a little bit different this year, but at the end of the day, I’m just trying to soak in and absorb as much information from the veterans in the clubhouse and trying to gain some knowledge that they've experienced throughout their careers.”
Bubic, who will square off with starter Yu Darvish, is likely to see a familiar face in the Cubs' lineup in Nico Hoerner, who has known Bubic since high school and was a teammate at Stanford. When Bubic got word last week he was being called up, Hoerner was one of his first calls.
Bubic and Hoerner returned to the Bay Area and worked out together a few times during the time off.
“That's gonna be pretty cool,” Bubic said. “We were actually facing each other over the quarantine a little bit. We had a couple live at-bats against each other about a month and a half ago. He actually drilled a line drive right back at me -- in the thigh. Left me a nice bruise.
“It’ll be an amazing experience facing a guy like that at the highest level of the sport. I consider him one of my best friends, and we played with each other since the end of high school, and sharing this stage together is gonna be a special moment. He’s one of the best teammates I've ever been around and one of the most locked-in competitors. He’s a guy that makes everybody around him better."
Royals manager Mike Matheny was impressed with what he saw from Bubic, saying: “I think more than anything was his composure. You know, I don't care if there’s an empty stadium or 50,000 sitting out there, it's a big day, and he got into somewhat of a mess right from the top and kept making pitches. He trusted his defense. That's something he's always done. He's attacked the zone with multiple pitches. ... He just looked unfazed. So I’m excited to watch him again.”