At this point on the calendar, most pitchers making their season debuts are typical September callups, unproven rookies hoping to make an impression with teammates, coaches, and the front office in a limited amount of innings.
Derek Holland isn't a rookie, and he isn't unproven. But after missing the first five months of the season recovering from knee surgery in January, the newly-activated Rangers lefty still cherishes every inning he throws and every small impression he makes in his 2014 debut Tuesday against the Royals
"I'm going to treat this as if it's Opening Day for me," Holland said. "Maybe the first pitch I'll be a little nervous, because it's my first time out there. After that, I'll be back to normal."
The left-hander made six starts in the Minors from July 30 to Aug. 28 before his activation from the 60-day disabled list on Saturday. He posted a 4.43 ERA in 20 1/3 innings at Double-A Frisco (two starts) and Triple-A Round Rock (four starts).
"I just want to play. I want to feel like a part of this team. This whole year has been brutal for me, and I didn't feel like I was a part of anything," Holland said of his team, saddled with the worst record in baseball. "Whether we lose the whole season, I want to be there, I want to be in it."
Facing Holland, and a team with "nothing to lose," so to speak, might be a scary proposition for the Royals, whose September is a meaningful one this year.
After their 4-3 victory Monday, they stand a narrow half-game ahead of the Tigers for first place in American League Central, knowing they'll need to take advantage of facing their weaker opponent.
Jeremy Guthrie will help be responsible for that Tuesday night after being roughed up in six innings against the Twins on Thursday.
"It wasn't one of [Guthrie's] best starts, but he got us through six innings and kept us in the game," manager Ned Yost said. "When he left, we had a chance to win the game and that's what's important."
The righty allowed nine hits and five runs in the Royals' 11-5 extra-inning loss and has allowed four or more runs in three of his last four starts.
Royals: Hosmer rejoins KC with four September callups
The Royals recalled Eric Hosmer, their regular first baseman, from his injury rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Omaha on Monday after just two games with the Storm Chasers. He went 3-for-10 with a home run and three RBIs.
Hosmer last played with the Royals on July 31.
The Royals also brought up outfielder Carlos Peguero, infielder Johnny Giavotella, catcher Francisco Pena and pitcher Casey Coleman from Omaha.
On Sunday, the Royals announced that pitcher Brandon Finnegan and outfielders Lane Adams and Terrance Gore were being promoted from Double-A Northwest Arkansas.
Rangers: Bevy of roster moves
The Rangers made a bevy of roster moves prior to Monday's series opener with the Royals.
Texas recalled right-handed pitchers Nick Tepesch and Lisalverto Bonilla and infielder Luis Sardinas from Triple-A Round Rock.
The team also purchased the contract of Express pitcher Michael Kirkman. A corresponding roster move has not been made yet, but either Tanner Scheppers or Shin-Soo Choo will be transferred to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Kirkman on the newly expanded 40-man roster.
The moves become official on Tuesday.
• After Monday's opener, the Royals' trio of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland has combined to allow just three earned runs in 67 2/3 innings in team's 27-9 span.
• The Rangers have tied the Major League record for players used in a season at 59, matching the 2002 Indians, 2002 Padres, and 2008 Padres. Texas also leads MLB with 36 pitchers used (one shy of ML mark, 37 by 2002 Padres) and team-record 20 rookies used. The Rangers will break and tie those records when Holland starts Tuesday.
Jake Kring-Schreifels is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.