KANSAS CITY -- The Royals' pitching plans for the rest of the week were scrambled on Tuesday when right-hander Luis Mendoza came down with a throat ailment.
Mendoza was scratched from his scheduled start on Wednesday night against the White Sox. The Royals didn't play on Monday so left-hander Bruce Chen can move up a day and take Mendoza's spot, with right-hander Jeremy Guthrie opposing Chicago on Thursday night.
"[Mendoza] came in today and was feeling horrible," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "His throat was all infected. We think it's strep throat. We sent him to the doctor."
The rotation for the weekend series against Cleveland at Kauffman Stadium remained uncertain, pending Mendoza's health and ability to pitch.
Mendoza, left-hander Will Smith and just-arrived Jake Odorizzi are in the mix. It's possible that Odorizzi, promoted from Triple-A Omaha, will make his Major League debut on Saturday night or Sunday against the Indians.
It all depends on Mendoza's availability.
"We may just skip his whole turn, I don't know. We've got to wait and see," Yost said.
Mendoza's illness will prevent him from going head to head against White Sox ace Chris Sale for the fourth time this season. Sale topped Mendoza twice on July 15 and Aug. 6, with Mendoza beating Sale on Aug. 17.
It sets up a Sale-Chen rematch of Sept. 8 in Chicago. Sale beat Chen in that game.
Gordon honored as Clemente Award nominee
KANSAS CITY -- Left fielder Alex Gordon is the Royals' nominee for the 2012 Roberto Clemente Award.
Gordon is one of 30 club finalists for the Award, which recognizes a Major Leaguer who best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement.
He was recognized before the Royals' game against the White Sox on Tuesday, established as Roberto Clemente Day by MLB. The Hall of Fame outfielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates died on New Year's Eve, 1972, in a plane crash while trying to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.
Gordon said he shares the Award with his wife, Jamie.
"It's really a wife-and-husband deal. She doesn't get most of the credit but she does a lot of the work, so it's a family award. She does more than I do," Gordon said. "We're happy to receive it, glad that people notice it and very honored to accept it."
Since his rookie season in 2007, Gordon has supported the Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation to raise funds to fight childhood cancer. The foundation is named for Alexandra "Alex" Scott, a Connecticut girl who not only battled childhood cancer until her death at age 8 but raised money for "her hospital" by operating a lemonade stand.
Gordon has attended the foundation's events, invited children diagnosed with cancer to the ballpark and visited children in hospitals. The Royals and stadium concessionaire Aramark are donating a portion of the proceeds from lemonade sales to the effort.
"It made sense because of the name, I did a couple of promotions with it and as the years went by, I got more involved. I hope to stay with it and continue to do more for them," Gordon said.
Award sponsor Chevrolet will make a donation to Alex's Lemonade Stand in Gordon's name.
Gordon and his wife also got behind the Diamond Dawgs, a 12-and-under baseball team that wore pink jerseys to raise awareness for breast cancer after two team members lost their mothers to cancer. They held a Playing for Pink Casino Night in Lincoln, Neb., last November that raised more than $120,000, half of which went to the American Cancer Society, the other half to the team for a tournament at Cooperstown, N.Y., a trip one of the deceased mothers told doctors she wanted to live long enough to see her son take.
Fans can help select the national award winner by voting for one of the 30 nominees at MLB.com/ClementeAward. Participating fans will be automatically registered for a chance to win a trip to the 2012 World Series. Voting ends at 10:59 p.m. CT on Sunday, Oct. 14. The winner of the fan poll will receive one vote among those cast by a selection panel.
Yost won't play newcomers against contenders
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals added five players to their roster last weekend from Triple-A Omaha, but they probably won't see much playing time in games that could affect the American League Central Division title.
Entering Tuesday, of the Royals' remaining 16 games, 10 were against either first-place Chicago or second-place Detroit.
That means that if pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi is to make his Major League debut as a starter, it'll be against Cleveland, the Royals' opponent for the other six games.
"If you were a team that was contending, would you want a rookie pitcher that was making his first Major League start pitching against you? Yeah," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "But to the team they're contending with, it's not fair. So when we play Chicago, when we play Detroit, we'll put our best team and our best pitchers on the field every game against them. We won't put any rookies in there unless it's just absolutely out of necessity. That's just the way I've always done it and that's the way it should be."
Cleveland, of course, is a different story. The Indians are well behind even the third-place Royals and have been officially eliminated.
"In my mind, when you're playing a contending team, you have a responsibility to play your best team out of fairness to both clubs. In this case, it's Detroit and Chicago," Yost said. "We'll put our best lineup on the field and do everything we can do to play our best baseball."
Omaha pitching coach Doug Henry has arrived to take over as the Royals' interim bullpen coach from Northwest Arkansas pitching coach Larry Carter. In addition, Omaha manager Mike Jirschele takes over for Surprise manager Darryl Kennedy as the extra coach permitted on the bench during September. Center fielder Jason Bourgeois' two assists on Sunday against the Angels and Alex Gordon's 13th on Tuesday night against the White Sox upped the Royals' Major League-leading total of outfield assists to 44, 10 more than Oakland. Right fielder Jeff Francoeur continues to top the Majors individually with 18 assists. Albert Pujols' magic against the Royals dimmed this year. Last weekend for the Angels, he was 1-for-11 and for the year, he was 5-for-28 (.179). According to Stats Pass, that lowers his career average against the Royals to .354, ranking him fifth among active players behind Dustin Pedroia (.376), Ichiro Suzuki (.365), his teammate Erick Aybar (.363) and Joe Mauer (.355).
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.