MINNEAPOLIS -- Left-handed reliever Tommy Hottovy made team history on Saturday when he came up from Triple-A Omaha to become the first 26th player on the Royals' active roster under a new rule. Effective this year, teams are permitted to add an extra player on the day a doubleheader is played.
The Royals' day-night doubleheader at Target Field was caused by a rainout on April 28.
"It's kind of cool," Hottovy said. "It's new for everybody, so there are a lot of question marks -- like what can you do and who can you bring?"
Hottovy learned that the "26th man" provision bypasses the usual 10-day limit to bring a player back after he's sent to a Minor League team. For example, Hottovy was optioned back to Omaha just eight days ago, but could return even though he's inside the 10-day window. And the 10 days don't reset, so he could return again after Monday.
"It's important when a team is playing a day-night doubleheader inside a nine- or 10-game stretch. It's tough, especially on the pitching staff," Hottovy said.
Hottovy was thrown into action in the first game, pitching 1 1/3 innings and giving up one run in a 7-2 loss. He was optioned to Omaha immediately after the second game.
The Twins also added a pitcher, right-hander Cole De Vries, their starter and winner in their 5-1 night victory. He too was returned to the Minors after the game.
So Hottovy, a Kansas City native, makes team history.
"I'm going to need a T-shirt made," he said, smiling.
Sure, reading: "I'm the 26th Man."
Royals wear '51 Blues jerseys in Game 2 of twin bill
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Royals sported a different look for the night portion of Saturday's day-night doubleheader: replica uniforms of the 1951 Kansas City Blues, once the city's Minor League franchise and affiliate of the New York Yankees.
On the sleeve is an imposing patch noting "Golden Jubilee," in honor of the American Association's 50th anniversary that year.
It's in collaboration with the Twins, clad in the uniforms of the 1951 Minneapolis Millers for a salute to the city's longtime club that was once home to the likes of Willie Mays, Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski. In fact, Mays and fellow Hall of Famer Hoyt Wilhelm played on the '51 Millers team.
The '51 Blues included a young center fielder named Mickey Mantle, sent down in July by the Yankees after a disappointing start. He wore No. 20 and was so upset by the demotion, he considered quitting the game until his father, Mutt, gruffly challenged him. Mantle stayed, hit .361 in 40 games and got back with the Yankees permanently.
The road uniforms were gray with dark blue "Kansas City" on the front and numerals on the back and dark blue caps. Other notable members of the '51 Blues were Bob Cerv, Jackie Jensen and Clint Courtney.
Variety key in Mendoza's improvement
MINNEAPOLIS -- Right-hander Luis Mendoza's recent success stems from varying his pitches and pitch location early in the game, according to Royals manager Ned Yost.
Earlier in the season, Mendoza tended to regularly pitch right-handed batters inside with two-seam fastballs.
"Righties aren't used to seeing a bunch of pitches in, so he handles the lineup first time around. The second time around, they start fighting pitches off. The third time, they're killing him, they're looking for it," Yost said.
But, in Friday night's 4-3 victory, Mendoza got through eight innings and gave up one run -- plus he had the Twins completely shut down in the third time through the order. In fact, he retired the last 12 batters he faced.
Guided by catcher Salvador Perez, Mendoza got away from a predictable pattern.
"Yesterday, they didn't do that," Yost said. "They effectively pitched in, but they also effectively pitched away with the two-seamer, four-seamer and curveball. So the third time around, they still didn't have any idea what he was doing, they weren't sitting on one particular pitch."
On Friday night, Mendoza didn't issue a walk, as he aggressively attacked the strike zone. After fighting his control earlier in the year, he's issued just five walks in his last 24 1/3 innings.
"He's throwing strikes, he's not really hurting himself walking guys," Yost said.
Rotation mostly set heading into All-Star break
MINNEAPOLIS -- Minus two games, Royals manager Ned Yost has his starting rotation set up going into the All-Star break.
Bruce Chen will pitch Sunday's series finale against the Twins. At Toronto, it'll be Everett Teaford on Monday night, Luis Mendoza on Wednesday night and Luke Hochevar on Thursday night.
Tuesday night remains open, as does the Sunday, July 8, game at Detroit after Jonathan Sanchez pitches on Friday night and Chen next Saturday.
"It's got a chance to be [Vin] Mazzaro if I don't use him [in long relief]," Yost said. "But it might not."
Mazzaro was used in relief during Saturday's first game, a 7-2 loss to the Twins; he went 2 1/3 scoreless innings and threw 25 pitches. Yost said that would not knock him out of the picture for Tuesday night.
"No, that's just kind of like a little polishing for him. He hadn't thrown in about seven days and we wanted to give him 25 pitches or so. He's still OK," Yost said.
If Mazzaro doesn't start, the Royals might bring up a pitcher from the Minors.
Eiland leaves club with family emergency
MINNEAPOLIS -- Royals pitching coach Dave Eiland left the club between games of Saturday's doubleheader because of a family emergency.
It's not known when Eiland will return. Bullpen coach Steve Foster is taking over his duties.
• Center fielder Bubba Starling got his first pro hit, a single, on Friday night in Burlington's 6-0 win at Johnson City in the Appalachian League. It was the second game for Starling, the Royals' top Draft choice in 2011.
• The Royals signed University of Alabama first baseman Sam Bates, their 28th-round pick this year. Thirty of the club's 40 selections have signed. The signing deadline is July 13.
• Center fielder Wil Myers has 26 home runs -- 13 in his current assignment with Triple-A Omaha and 13 earlier for Double-A Northwest Arkansas. He's hitting .306 for Omaha after posting a .343 average in Double-A.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.