TEX@KC: Maxwell smashes a two-run homer to left field

HOUSTON -- No one on the Royals roster knows Astros newcomer George Springer better than outfielder Justin Maxwell.

Maxwell and Springer, who made his Houston debut Wednesday night, played together at times at Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Oklahoma City in the Houston organization the last two years when Maxwell was in the Minors on rehab assignments.

"He's a special talent," Maxwell said. "I got to hit behind him. I was pretty impressed. He's a hard worker. He's got a great approach at the plate. He's got great hand-eye coordination."

People in Houston have heard for three years how great Springer is. Maxwell said Springer lived up to the hype in the Minors.

"He's a great outfielder with a great arm," Maxwell said. "The best part about him is, despite his talent, he continues to work hard."

Maxwell recalled a game with Oklahoma City last year when Springer hit the first two balls he swung at for home runs at Round Rock.

"The first one was a curveball and the second one was a fastball," Maxwell said.

Springer started out as a center fielder in the Houston farm system and was moved to right field this season after the Astros acquired Dexter Fowler in the offseason from Colorado to play center.

"Dexter's a great center fielder," Maxwell said. "He has the history of playing in Coors Field, a big ballpark. He can always run them down. I think eventually George will take over there once they give him a chance to play there every day. He could play all three outfield positions."

Maxwell played mostly center field when he was with the Astros in 2012 and '13. He started Wednesday night's game in right field for the Royals.

He offered some advice to the Royals' pitchers who would face Springer Wednesday and Thursday.

"Just don't leave anything over the middle of the plate," Maxwell told the KC staff. "Anytime you do, he'll hammer it. Stay on the corners and try to keep him off balance and keep the ball down."

Maxwell remembered Tal's Hill in deep center field from his days in Houston.

"I went up on the hill and caught a few balls," Maxwell said. "Once I ran up the hill, caught a ball and ran into the wall and it popped out. I did catch it first, but the wall knocked it out. That wall hardly ever comes into play out there.

"It's a fun place to play," he said of Minute Maid Park. "You don't have to watch the Weather Channel. You know you're going to get your game in."

Rotation adjusted due to Chen's stiff back

CWS@KC: Chen fans seven over 6 1/3 to limit White Sox

HOUSTON -- Kansas City manager Ned Yost shuffled his pitching rotation for the rest of the week to accommodate a minor injury to left-hander Bruce Chen.

Right-hander James Shields will start for the Royals Thursday night at Houston instead of Chen. Left-hander Jason Vargas will move up a day to pitch Friday night at home against Minnesota with Chen starting Saturday's afternoon game against the Twins.

"Bruce has got some stiffness in his back," Yost said. "We've been on a six-man rotation the last two or three times through because of the off-days. We can get Bruce's back to calm down a little bit and move Shields up to a regular five and move Vargas up to a regular five and slide Bruce in after Vargas.

"He could have pitched [Thursday]," Yost said of Chen. "But we're going to give him a couple of extra days to get it out of there."

Chen said the injury was actually a tightness in his glute.

"I could have pitched [Thursday]," Chen said. "But we had an off -day [Monday]. We have a chance to put a couple of guys in their five-day [routine] and give me a couple of extra days.

"Right now, it's early in the season, everyone can do their thing and I can get this resolved. I've had it for over a week now. The preparation in between [starts] wasn't what I wanted it to be."

Chen lasted only 3 2/3 innings in Friday's loss at Minnesota, allowing seven hits and six earned runs.

He is happy to be getting another shot at the Twins. "I'm glad I can go out there and perform against a team in our division, especially one that swept us before," he said. He will miss a chance to pitch against Houston. He has a career 3-1 record and 2.72 ERA vs. the Astros.

Shields said he was told Tuesday that he had been moved up to Thursday in the rotation.

"I'm ready to go," he said, adding it didn't matter to him when he pitched. "You have to make adjustments in this game and roll with the punches."

Moustakas, high school teammate Dominguez reunite

KC@MIN: Moustakas crosses home on error

HOUSTON -- Kansas City third baseman Mike Moustakas was reunited with his high school teammate, Astros third baseman Matt Dominguez, Tuesday night.

The two infielders from Chatsworth High in Northridge, Calif., went out to a steakhouse for dinner after the Royals beat Houston 4-2 in the opener of a three-game series.

A friend of Moustakas' father-in-law runs the restaurant and kept it open late for the ballplayers.

It was the first time the two had seen each other since Moustakas' wedding Jan. 4. Dominguez was a groomsman in the wedding.

"We had some good arms and good glove men in that wedding," joked Moustakas. "It was a pretty good group of baseball players walking down the aisle.

Moustakas married his high school girlfriend, Stephanie.

"Matt knew her when we were growing in the Valley and we hung out a bunch together," Moustakas said. "It was cool to be able to have him there with us."

Both players have been struggling at bat this season. Moustakas went 0-for-4 in the game and is hitting just .100. Dominguez, who had one hit in four at-bats, raised his average to .195.

"We talk a little bit about baseball, but mainly from being friends back in the day," said the 25-year-old Moustakas.

They text each other occasionally.

"We're not too good with our phones, so we're not much on the communication," Moustakas said. "If I see he had a good game, I'll text him."

The two friends used to belong to a fantasy NBA league.

"He kicked me out of it," Moustakas said of Dominguez. "I wouldn't set my roster and he didn't like that too much. He wasn't even the commissioner, but he voted against me. I haven't been allowed back since. They keep it serious. I didn't even get invited to the play [in] their football league."