Detroit – New Tigers right-hander Guido Knudson had never gotten a call from his Triple-A manager Larry Parrish before, so when the phone rang after midnight Thursday morning, he wasn’t quite sure what to think.
Could be really bad news. Could be really good news.
It was the best news – Knudson, a 28th round pick in 2011 – had been called up to the big leagues.
“It’s kind of unreal in a way,” said Knudson, who had been the closer in Toledo. “I kind of sat there and took it in for a second. The first thing I wanted to do was call my fiancé and my parents. They’ve supported me for so many years. It’s just awesome. My mom was screaming and my dad was excited. Just awesome to be able to give them good news like that.”
In addition to having two starting pitchers go on the DL Thursday – Daniel Norris (oblique) and Anibal Sanchez (rotator cuff strain) – the Tigers also have an arm-weary bullpen which has thrown 15 innings over the last three days.
So, the Tigers reached down to Toledo and brought up relievers Knudson and Jose Valdez, who had been up earlier this month.
“I don’t know a lot about Knudson,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “But Larry Parrish and (pitching coaches) A.J. Sager and Mike Maroth said he was the one guy they’d recommend above all others.”
Knudson, who started the season in Double-A Erie, made 10 saves in 12 opportunities at Toledo, with a 2.52 ERA and a 1.220 WHIP in 30 appearances. He struck out 40 in 39.1 innings. He also had 21 walks. Opponents were hitting .196 against him.
He has a firm, low-to-mid 90s fastball and a vastly improved slider and changeup.
“I’ve been really working it,” he said of the slider. “I used to throw a cutter, but I got rid of it. I wanted something with more depth and more speed difference. The changeup has come a long ways, as well. It’s just a matter being more comfortable and more able to command it.”
Knudson said he got some good advice from Parrish before he hung up the phone.
“Just be ready to pitch,” he said. “It’s the same game. Command your pitches, keep the hitters off balance and keep doing what you’ve done to get here. Don’t deviate and don’t try to do too much. Just stay within yourself.”
Because he used rookie Matt Boyd for a 16-pitch relief stint Wednesday night, Ausmus wanted to push his next scheduled start back a day – from Saturday to Sunday.
But for the record, Boyd was ready to go Saturday.
“(Wednesday) was my normal side day,” he said. “I would have thrown anyway, I just happened to throw in the game. Plus, it would have been six-days rest. I would be OK.”
It’s not going to happen. The Tigers acquired veteran lefty Randy Wolf from Toronto and he will pitch Saturday.
The Tigers will soon be keeping a close eye on Boyd’s work load. He’s pitched a career-high 139.1 innings thus far. But Boyd said he still feels strong.
“I’ve trained for this,” he said. “I feel great right now. I struggled my last start, but that wasn’t fatigue. That was execution. I need to execute my pitches.”
He said, too, that the year he was drafted, he pitched 175 innings, counting 132 he pitched in college ball.
Catcher James McCann is errorless once again. He was originally charged with a passed ball error in the ninth inning Tuesday in Chicago. That ruling was changed to a wild pitch against Bruce Rondon. So, McCann’s fielding percentage is still perfect.
... Former Tiger Prince Fielder seems to be a different kind of hitter these days. He leads the American League with 146 hits and he came in sporting a .324 batting average. But his home run numbers are down (17). He has hit just three homers since the All-Star break.