Notes: Mac back as closer

Notes: Mac back as closer

KANSAS CITY -- Mike MacDougal, closer.

That name and that job description haven't been linked very often lately. Now, under new Royals manager Buddy Bell, that's happening again.

MacDougal notched back-to-back saves in the first two games of the series against the New York Yankees and that was impressive enough for Bell.

When Bell took over on Tuesday, he met with pitching coach Guy Hansen.

"I don't know how long they've been going with the [bullpen by] committee, but I would prefer that these guys know what their roles are," Bell said.

"I don't know if we can do that at this point but, in that conversation, Guy suggested that MacDougal get a shot at it and he's done a pretty darn good job of it."

MacDougal got a brief shot at closing in April between the injury to left-hander Jeremy Affeldt and the arrival of rookie right-hander Ambiorix Burgos. Eventually the committee approach evolved, notably under interim manager Bob Schaefer.

MacDougal was an All-Star as a rookie closer in 2003 when he had 27 saves, but 23 of them came before the break. Last season he spent most of the season in the Minor Leagues, working through an elbow ailment and rectifying a control problem.

"I just kept at it and kept going until you get back to where you want to be," MacDougal said.

At his best, MacDougal throws a hard sinker that drops sharply. And when he's not at his best?

"It's almost sideways," he said.

Nobody wants to be known for his sidewayer.

He might be in some competition for the role, though, when Affeldt returns to the roster, which should be soon. Affeldt threw a scoreless inning Wednesday night and another Thursday for Triple-A Omaha.

"His velocity was up last night to probably 94 to 96 [mph]. Today they had a day game and his velocity was a little bit down but he was good again," Bell said.

Royals trivia: Who was the only manager to win his first four games with the Royals? (Answer below.)

Soft spot for Sweeney: Asked what he knew about any efforts to trade first baseman Mike Sweeney, Bell said he had not discussed the matter with general manager Allard Baird. Or Sweeney, either.

"I would like to see him stay...," Bell said. "I've only been here two nights but to have this guy in the dugout and to see his passion not only for his teammates but for this organization is pretty special."

Baird said Sunday that the Royals were not pursuing a trade for Sweeney but rather wanted to add a strong bat to back him up in the lineup.

Numbers up: When Bell took over as Royals manager, bullpen coach Brian Poldberg gave his No. 25 to the new skipper.

What did Bell give him for it?

"A locker," Poldberg said, grinning.

Now Poldberg wears No. 49.

Farm report: It wasn't quite June 6, but Double-A Wichita experienced "The Longest Day" with a 20-inning, 7-2 victory at Corpus Christi on Wednesday night. A bases-loaded single by Mike Aviles broke a 2-2 in the 20th. Cory Aldridge was 3-for-9 with his 13th homer and three RBIs for the Wranglers. Top hitter Justin Huber went 0-for-8 and his average fell to .330. Starter J.P. Howell struck out 11 in six innings.

Aaron Guiel had three hits and three RBIs in Triple-A Omaha's 10-9 loss to New Orleans. Denny Hocking has seven hits in his last 14 at-bats. Pitcher Shawn Camp cleared waivers and remained with Omaha.

Mitch Maier has hits in 11 of his last 12 games, raising his average from .312 to .340 for Class A High Desert. The Mavericks lost, 9-3, to Lancaster. ... Mario Lisson had a homer and three RBIs to lead Class A Burlington over Beloit, 9-4.

Trivia answer: Whitey Herzog won his first four games as Royals manager in 1975.

Players of month: Sweeney, who hit .337 with seven homers and 18 RBIs in May, was voted Royals player of the month by the Kansas City media. Mike Wood, who had two victories and two saves, was named pitcher of the month.

Tryout camp: The Royals will hold a tryout camp at 9 a.m. CT on Thursday, June 9, at the Rockhurst University baseball fields at 55th and Troost in Kansas City.

There is no cost and players must bring their own equipment. Players under 21 need a waiver signed by a parent or guardian. American Legion players must bring written permission from their coach or post commander. The complete schedule is available on the Royals' Web site.

On deck: The Royals will open a three-game series against the Texas Rangers at 7:10 p.m. CT on Friday. There will be fireworks after the game.

After Saturday afternoon's game, gospel singer Chris Tomlin will perform in concert. Faith testimonies will be offered by Sweeney, Affeldt and Tony Graffanino of the Royals, Rangers pitching coach Orel Hershiser and Chiefs wide receiver Eddie Kennison.

At Sunday's game, the first 10,000 kids 14 and under will receive a "KayCee" bear from the Build-A-Bear Workshop.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.