Kansas City Royals

Greg Holland returns to KC to collect World Series ring, still waiting to sign with a team

Former Royals closer Greg Holland shakes hands with manager Ned Yost during Tuesday’s ring ceremony.
Former Royals closer Greg Holland shakes hands with manager Ned Yost during Tuesday’s ring ceremony. jtoyoshiba@kcstar.com

For the moment, Greg Holland is a reliever without a home.

Holland, a former All-Star closer, returned to Kansas City on Tuesday afternoon to participate in the World Series ring ceremony before the Royals’ 2-0 loss to the New York Mets at Kauffman Stadium.

It could be his last time in a big-league stadium for a while.

Holland, who underwent Tommy John surgery in October, is currently rehabbing at the Fischer Institute in Tempe, Ariz. He remains hopeful he will sign a free-agent contract in the near future.

For now, the timeline is fluid.

“I’d rather be in uniform watching baseball games than sitting in a suit,” Holland said Tuesday. “But it’s something you got to be patient with it. It’s my first time being a free agent. Unfortunately, I’m not completely healthy. But it’s one of those things, you want to be out there on the field, but the main thing is getting healthy and realizing that it’s going to be a long time building back up.”

The Royals have expressed interest in a reunion with Holland, which would likely come in the form of a two-year deal. Holland will likely spend the entire 2016 season rehabbing before returning for 2017. But for now, he said he is letting his agent, Scott Boras, handle the negotiations with prospective teams.

“My main focus is getting as healthy as I can, as quickly as I can,” Holland said. “That’s going really well. That’s where my priorities are.”

Holland, 30, recorded a 2.42 ERA and 145 saves while spending the last six seasons in Kansas City. He made the American League All-Star team in 2013 and 2014 while racking up 93 saves. He gutted through injury in 2015, posting a 3.83 ERA with 32 saves before requiring surgery to repair a damaged ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

When healthy, he is among the most effective relievers in the game.

On Tuesday, Holland returned to Kauffman Stadium, celebrating with the only franchise he has ever known. He wore a Royals jersey over a suit while accepting his World Series ring.

“It’s kind of awkward, but I’m ready to see that ring,” Holland said before the game. “It was a good gesture on their part. You don’t get this opportunity very much. Even as just a baseball fan, people waited 30 years. You never know when the chance is going to come back around.

“After we lost two years ago in Game 7, you kind of are like: ‘I know we got a good team, but it’s still a five-game series or something.’ There’s no guarantee that the better team is going to come out on top. We thought we were the better team the first time around. So to get back and to win it, it’s special.”