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Royals notebook: Rare decision to tape ankle saves Guillen

DETROIT | Credit Royals trainer Nick Swartz with a decision that possibly kept outfielder José Guillen from suffering a broken right ankle in Saturday’s 13-3 rout of the Detroit Tigers.

Guillen’s cleats caught in the infield dirt at Comerica Park as he decelerated while going into second base after leading off the eighth inning with a double into the left-center gap.

The result was the Guillen rolled his ankle. He remained in the game long enough to score the first run of a five-run burst before leaving the game when the Royals took the field in the Detroit eighth.

“I never tape my ankles,” Guillen said, “but I taped the left one today because it was a little sore. Nick said, `Let me tape the right one.’ He taped it so hard, and look at what happened.

“If I don’t have that ankle taped, I think I would have broken my ankle. That tape just held me up. How weird is that? Someone is looking out for me upstairs.”

About time, perhaps.

Mahay set to return

Reliever Ron Mahay will subject his sore left foot to another bullpen workout today and, if all goes well, should return Tuesday to active duty.

“I’m feeling good,” he said. “I’m doing all of the precautions: Icing, stretching. With that, I think I’ll be able to get by until the end of the season. I’ll take the next step after that if I still have it.”

The injury — plantar fasciitis — causes pain to the heel and bottom of the foot. It is caused, typically, by a pitcher exerting pressure on his toes and arching his foot as he pushes off the rubber.

Mahay has pitched only once since Aug. 6, an 18-pitch outing Aug. 15 against the Yankees in New York. He wasn’t placed on the disabled list until Aug. 22, but the move was retroactive to Aug. 16.

That timing makes his eligible to return today, but the Royals will delay the move until Tuesday to avoid making a space-clearing roster move. The rules permit rosters to expand to 40 players in September.

September call-ups

Hillman said he expects the Royals to add four-to-six players when the rosters expand. The list, at this point, doesn’t appear to include first baseman Kila Kaaihue despite his breakthrough season in the minors.

The Royals do plan to recall Ryan Shealy, who could even see regular duty over the closing weeks as club officials seek to determine whether he merits a spot in future plans.

“The question is, `Do we have room for both?’” asked J.J. Picollo, the assistant general manager for scouting and player development.

“With Ryan, the fact that he’s on the roster, our lack of right-handed power, and the fact he’s having a pretty good year in Triple-A, I think it would be good for us to get a look at him.”

That leaves Kaaihue, who isn’t on the 40-man roster, as the odd-man out _ despite leading the organization with 36 homers and 98 RBIs while batting .314 in splitting time at Class AAA Omaha and Class AA Northwest Arkansas.

Shealy, 29, is batting .279 at Omaha with 21 homers and 61 RBIs in 108 games. He is out of options after this season.

“That’s kind of a separate issue from Kila’s situation,” Picollo said, “but it does affect the number of at-bats available. It’s tough to get them both up here at the same time. We’re still working through all of that to see how we can possibly do it.”

Kaaihue, 24, was a 15th-round pick in the 2002 draft and has never had more than 20 homers or 90 RBIs in six previous professional seasons. He brought a .252 career average into this season.

The Royals must place Kaaihue on their 40-man roster by Nov. 20 or risk losing him in the Rule 5 draft.

Minor details

Class AA Northwest Arkansas powered its way to the Texas League North Division title by hitting three homers Saturday in a 7-3 victory over Tulsa in front of 6,558 fans at Arvest Ballpark in Springdale, Ark.

Mario Lisson, Brian McFall and Cory Aldridge hit homers for the Naturals, who have won a franchise-record eight straight games.

Northwest Arkansas clinched a tie for the title Friday when right-hander Dan Cortes pitched six no-hit innings in an 8-2 victory at Arkansas.

Cortes walked two and hit a batter in his six innings. He is 10-4 with a 3.78 ERA. The Naturals entered Saturday with a three-game lead over Springfield with three games to play.

•Class A Burlington clinched the second-half crown in the Midwest League West Division despite a 6-4 loss at Beloit. The Bees hold a 3½-game lead over second-place Cedar Rapids with three games remaining.



Looking back

It was 27 years ago today — Aug. 31, 1981 — that Dick Howser replaced Jim Frey as the Royals’ manager. The Royals were 30-40 at the time in the strike-shortened season. They lost 5-1 to Milwaukee in their first game under Howser but won 20 of their next 32 and reached the playoffs.

Etc.

•Billy Butler is the first player to hit two homers in a game against Detroit starter Kenny Rogers since Royals second baseman Mark Grudzielanek on May 23, 2006 at Kauffman Stadium.



•Butler is 11 for 24 in his last six games and has raised his average from .261 to .273.



•Ross Gload snapped a zero-for-12 drought with a single in the third inning. He finished three for five.



•The Royals enter today with a 13-8 record on Sunday. It is, by far, their best record on any day of the week.



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