Published January 13, 2015
Something sounded very, very strange to Milwaukee Brewers starter Wily Peralta.
When he threw pitches to Josh Hamilton in the first inning, Peralta heard the umpire calling them — from over his left shoulder.
In a throwback to Little League days, Tim McClelland did some plate umpiring from behind the mound Tuesday after another ump was injured in the Brewers' 6-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels.
"When he called 'ball' behind me, I just looked behind me," Peralta said.
In a game where Angels first baseman Albert Pujols played the field for the first time since offseason surgery on his right knee, the big slugger set off an unusual chain of events. With two outs in the top of the first, he was hit by a pitch from Peralta. The ball deflected and broke plate umpire Seth Buckminster's left hand.
Buckminster left the game along with umpire Anthony Johnson, who changed into home-plate gear. After a few minutes, with McClelland and Jim Joyce left as the only two umpires left on the field, play resumed for four batters with McClelland calling pitches from behind the mound.
"Just keep it moving," McClelland said. "We didn't want people to sit. Both managers agreed to it, and I knew it wasn't going to be long. This way we didn't have to sit and could keep the game going."
Hamilton grounded to end the top of the first. Norichika Aoki singled to start the bottom half and Rickie Weeks homered deep to left.
Ryan Braun was two pitches into his at-bat when Johnson emerged from the right-field corner to applause from the 5,566 at Maryvale Baseball Stadium.
"It's still baseball," Weeks said. "Guys still have to go out there and play hard. It's just unfortunate for the umpire who was out there. Only in spring training."
It was the second day in a row the Brewers watched the plate umpire leave the game early. On Monday, Cleveland's Mark Reynolds hit Patrick Mahoney on the head with the follow through of his swing, causing a 12-minute delay.
"That's what we tried to get them to do the other day and they wouldn't do it," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said of the two-man crew. "McClelland isn't worried about it, he just wants to keep the game moving. You get a great view from back there. You really do. It's almost better than behind the plate."
Pujols flied out and popped out in six innings.
"I'm too young to DH," Pujols said with a laugh. "I could have played nine innings, right now but playing nine innings now is being selfish."
Pujols has thrived in the DH role this spring to the tune of a .350 average (7 for 20) with two home runs and five RBIs.
"It's different," Pujols said. "I've taught my body to be on the field all the time and when you have to teach your body something different it's tough."
Rickie Weeks, Aramis Ramirez and Sean Halton homered for the Brewers.
Peralta scattered six hits over six innings and allowed one run. Angels starter Jason Vargas gave up five runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings.
NOTES: McClelland said a few years ago he briefly umpired solo when the plate umpire in a three-man crew was injured. . During the game, Milwaukee announced C Robinzon Diaz had been returned to minor league camp. . Brewers RHP Mark Rogers threw a live bullpen session. He has not pitched in a game since March 12 as he deals with problems with his command and velocity that derailed his quest for a spot in Milwaukee's rotation. . Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he expects RHP Ryan Madson to get back on the mound within the next couple of days. Madson, who missed all of last season following Tommy John surgery on April 11, hasn't thrown off a mound since Thursday because of tightness in his right elbow.