Bullpen need expedites Tim Collins’ return to Royals

Tim Collins knew something was up.

The lefty reliever was scheduled to throw the eighth and ninth innings Saturday night for Class AAA Omaha as he neared the completion of a rehab assignment for a strained flexor tendon in his left elbow.

The idea was for Collins to join the team in San Diego, where the Royals open a three-game series on Monday.

But with a phone call from Royals general manager Dayton Moore to Omaha, the game plan for Collins changed.

“In the seventh, they got the call to put somebody else in,” Collins said. “I figured something was up.”

Collins was restoring items in his clubhouse cubicle on Sunday morning. Aaron Brooks, who surrendered six runs in the ninth inning of Saturday’s 9-2 loss to the Tigers, was returned to Omaha.

Royals manager Ned Yost didn’t hesitate calling Collins’ number Sunday. Tigers’ bats stayed hot all weekend, and Royals starter Jason Vargas was knocked around, surrendering season highs of seven runs and 11 hits in five innings.

Collins was summoned to start the sixth and he retired six of the seven hitters he faced.

His scoreless streak was extended. In four innings at Omaha, Collins didn’t allow a run and struck out 10. He issued a walk and hit a batter.

“They were younger guys, and probably swinging at stuff they wouldn’t swing at here,” Collins said. “

But I went there to throw strikes and had pretty good success.”

Collins, who hadn’t thrown in three weeks before his first Omaha appearance, said he experienced some soreness after his first couple of outings, but he rebounded quickly.

“My arm reacted better than I thought it would,” he said.

Collins joins a bullpen that has been punching the clock with frequency lately. In the five games since the Royals last off day on April 28, the bullpen has logged 17 1/3 innings. More than one this week, Royals manager Ned Yost has talked about the team’s need for lengthy appearances —more than one inning —from his relievers.

Entering Sunday, Collins has made 208 career appearances in his three-plus major league seasons, all with the Royals. He struggled with his control in two early outings before being diagnosed with the flexor strain.

Perez back in lineup

Royals catcher Salvador Perez was back in the lineup after a day off to rest a sore shin. Perez fouled a ball off his shin in the seventh inning of Friday’s loss to the Tigers and was removed from the game in the eighth. Brett Hayes was behind the plate for Saturday’s 9-2 loss to the Tigers.

Perez started the Royals’ seventh with a double. He was removed for Hayes, who pinch ran and finished the game behind the plate.

Wrong glove

Perez was awarded his 2013 Gold Glove in a pregame ceremony on Saturday along with left-fielder Alex Gordon and first baseman Eric Hosmer. But there was a problem. The glove on Perez’s trophy was an outfielder’s glove not a catcher’s mitt. The award’s sponsor, Rawlings, will deliver the appropriate trophy.