ST. PETERSBURG — Disappointed.
More than anything, James Shields said, he was disappointed to read Evan Longoria's comments that the Rays clubhouse was better without Shields and B.J. Upton.
"I'm a little disappointed Evan would say that," Shields said Wednesday from Chicago. "I think my time over there was great. I think I was a pretty decent leader over there."
Longoria said Monday that he felt the two longtime Rays were still somewhat scarred by the team's rough past and, at times, couldn't get beyond it, and that without them the current team is in "a better mental state" and has better camaraderie.
Shields, who was traded to Kansas City in December, said he didn't know what Longoria was talking about or why the Rays third baseman was talking about him and Upton, who signed with Atlanta.
"I feel like he ought to be worried about his own team," said Shields, a 16th-round pick of the Rays in 2000. "I think Evan is trying to take the (Rays) team on and lead in his own way. It is what it is."
The pitcher said he and Longoria had a solid relationship, adding to his surprise at the comments.
"Evan and I have known each other a long time, we've gone through a lot of good experiences together," Shields said. "Evan's a great player. … I'm sure he'll be a good leader."
Shields said he was "not concerned" about the comments but reiterated several times how disappointed he was and suggested that most people around the Rays would say he was a good influence when there.
"I'm not real worried about what's going on with the Rays right now," he said. "My focus is on the Royals and being a good leader in this clubhouse."
Upton is aware of the comments but — through a spokesman — the centerfielder has declined to comment.
Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]