Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Royals' Wade Davis, Ben Zobrist among local connections in World Series

Ex-Rays' presence strong on Royals

Two of the more prominent faces on the Royals during the World Series will be familiar to Rays fans — RHP Wade Davis and 2B Ben Zobrist.

Davis, now the Royals' lights-out closer, came up with the Rays and was traded to the Royals in December 2012 along with RHP James Shields for a package headlined by OF Wil Myers (since traded) and RHP Jake Odorizzi.

Davis (left) was a middling starter for the Rays in 2009-11 before moving to the bullpen in 2012 with some success. After being used both ways by the Royals in 2013, he settled in as a late-inning reliever and has had a remarkable two-year run, posting a 0.97 ERA over 140 games, with 187 strikeouts in 1391/3 innings. Most impressive was his escape in the clinching Game 6 of the ALCS over Toronto.

Zobrist was a two-time All-Star and an immense fan favorite during a nine-year run in Tampa Bay. The Rays traded him last offseason to Oakland (for John Jaso and two prospects, SS Daniel Robertson and OF Boog Powell), and the A's at the July deadline shipped him to Kansas City, where he has played a key role, including hitting .326 in the postseason.

There are some other Tampa Bay ties to the Series as well:

. The expansion Mets were actually born in St. Petersburg, Don Zimmer serving as the model for the reveal of their 1962 debut uniforms before the first of their 26 spring trainings in the Sunshine City.

. Mets RHP Tyler Clippard: Grew up in northern Pinellas, graduated from Mitchell High in New Port Richey.

. Royals pitching coach Dave Eiland: Grew up in Zephyrhills, attended UF and USF, pitched for Rays in 1998-2000, worked as special assistant for Rays in 2011.

. Royals OF Jonny Gomes: Played for Rays 2003-08, though has been inactive in playoffs.

. Mets INF Kelly Johnson: Played for Rays in 2013.

. Royals bench coach Don Wakamatsu: Finalist for Rays managing job that went to Kevin Cash.

Marc Topkin, Times staff writer

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