McClelland umpires 4,000th MLB game
Crew chief's milestone comes with strange call in ninth inning
DETROIT -- Tim McClelland marked his 4,000th game as a Major League umpire in the Tigers' 9-3 victory over the Royals on Tuesday night at Comerica Park. The evening began pleasantly enough, but McClelland didn't get through his milestone game without some controversy.
McClelland was congratulated by the managers, Ned Yost of the Royals and Jim Leyland of the Tigers, during the pregame conference at the plate, and he posed for a photo with them and his three umpiring cohorts, Brian Runge, Marvin Hudson and Ted Barrett. McClelland, the crew chief, was stationed at second base.
All went well until the ninth inning, when Jeff Francoeur's bid for a home run bounced off the top of the left-field wall, then was speared by center fielder Austin Jackson. Though the ball was in play, McClelland made an out signal and confusion reigned for a few minutes. Francoeur, thinking he'd been called out, wandered past second base and was tagged by the Tigers.
In the end, McClelland admitted his mistake, restored order by ruling Francoeur had a double and the teams finished the ninth inning.
"You'd think a guy with 4,000 games would have a little more experience than to mess up a play like that," McClelland said good-naturedly.
Leyland argued the resolution for a time, claiming Francoeur should be out because he'd been tagged, but later joked that he was only trying to be a part of McClelland's No. 4,000. Yost merely said: "There was no real argument there. He made a mistake and he rectified it."
McClelland is remembered for being the home-plate umpire in the famous George Brett pine tar game of July 24, 1983, at Yankee Stadium. McClelland laid the bat across home plate and called out Brett, nullifying his home run and sending the enraged Royals star charging at him. The Royals protested, got the home run reinstated and won when the game was completed later.
At Saturday night's game against the Yankees at Kauffman Stadium, the first 20,000 fans will receive a mini pine tar bat to commemorate that historic incident.
Paulino on track to face Yanks on Saturday
DETROIT -- If things continue to progress for right-hander Felipe Paulino, he'll make his first start of the season for the Royals against the Yankees on Saturday night at Kauffman Stadium.
Paulino will throw a side session at Comerica Park on Wednesday, and if that goes well, he'll face the Bronx Bombers, matched against Hiroki Kuroda, according to Royals manager Ned Yost.
Experiencing no effects of the right forearm strain that put him on the disabled list in Spring Training, Paulino pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings on Monday in a rehab start for Double-A Northwest Arkansas.
"That's why I went to the Minor Leagues -- to show what I can do," Paulino said after rejoining the Royals. "It was pretty good yesterday -- 90 pitches, that's what I was looking for. I'm just waiting to get back to the Major Leagues and help this team."
His velocity was good, up in the 94-97 mph range, and he issued no walks. And he had no recurrence of the forearm problem.
"No problem at all, I feel strong and healthy now," he said. "I'm ready to go."
Mendoza likely to switch to long-man role
DETROIT -- If Felipe Paulino is cleared to start the third game of the Yankees series, he'll take Luis Mendoza's spot in the Royals' rotation.
And if Paulino is activated on Saturday, the Royals will be dropping one of the 13 current pitchers. One influencing factor will be manager Ned Yost's preference to have two relievers who can go long distance in innings.
A big reason is that going into Tuesday night's game, the Royals' starting pitchers had combined for the fewest total innings of any rotation in the Major Leagues with 106. Cleveland had the next fewest with 116 1/3.
"I've got to have two [long men] right now the way our pitching staff's going," Yost said.
For now, his long men are Mendoza and Nate Adcock, who threw 5 1/3 innings and 93 pitches on Sunday.
"We need to get more depth out of our starting rotation," Yost said.
Holland alters mechanics, making progress
DETROIT -- Reliever Greg Holland thinks he's finding relief from what's been causing that pain on the left side of his rear rib cage.
"We made a few slight mechanical fixes, and hopefully that's going to keep it from happening again," Holland said. "I was just kind of falling off [the mound] too much, and it was getting me in a bind. I was getting too arched, and it was causing me to land on the side of my foot and it was really pinching back here."
Holland, on the disabled list since April 21, was feeling good after throwing on Monday. He's scheduled to throw 25-30 pitches on Wednesday, throw in batting practice over the weekend, then possibly go on a Minor League rehab assignment on Tuesday for at least two outings. He hopes to be ready for bullpen duty during the Royals' series against the White Sox in Chicago from May 11-13.
Holland believes the slight alteration in his delivery is working.
"Basically, it's just getting me back to where I was," he said. "I think we've got it figured out now."
Getz, Holland taking part in Equipment Drive
DETROIT -- Second baseman Chris Getz and pitcher Greg Holland are leading the Royals' eighth annual Baseball Equipment Drive on Thursday and Friday at Kauffman Stadium. The drive, presented by the Baseball Tomorrow Fund and Rawlings, will benefit the Alta Vista Charter School baseball program.
Royals Wives will help collect new and gently used baseball and softball equipment outside the Diamond Club and the Majestic Team Store on the Field/Plaza Level from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. CT before and during the games against the Yankees.
Cash donations also will be accepted. Fans making a $40 contribution will receive a baseball and fans making a $10 donation will receive a photo card, each item autographed by a Royals player of choice while supplies last.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.