Jim Joyce to umpire Tiger pitcher's start

PITTSBURGH -- When Armando Galarraga steps onto the mound to face the Baltimore Orioles on Friday night, the Detroit Tigers pitcher will see a familiar face behind home plate in umpire Jim Joyce.

This time, it's Joyce who plans on being perfect.

Joyce, widely considered one of the majors' top umpires, cost the Tigers right-hander a perfect game on June 2 when he incorrectly called the Cleveland Indians' Jason Donald safe at first on what should have been a game-ending grounder.

Joyce acknowledged missing the call after watching a video replay. His heartfelt apology to Galarraga, and the pitcher's calm and graceful acceptance of it, drew praise as a model for sportsmanship during a time when athletes more often attract headlines for misbehavior.

About 12 hours after the missed call, Joyce wiped away tears at home plate as Galarraga brought out the Tigers' lineup card for the next day's game. The two had hugged the night before when Joyce sought out Galarraga to apologize.

Joyce wasn't aware Galarraga was pitching Friday until being told by The Associated Press, and he said he is looking forward to it.

"I've seen him since, I've talked to him; the only difference is I'm not going to be at first base, I'm going to be at home plate," Joyce said Wednesday night in Pittsburgh after the Atlanta Braves beat the Pirates 9-3. "Apprehensive, but also kind of excited about it, really, to be honest with you."

This will be the first series Joyce has umpired in Detroit since making a call that is likely to be remembered for as long as the sport is played -- and not necessarily for all the wrong reasons.

"It's just the apprehension of walking out on that field," Joyce said. "It'll be the first time I'm back. Even though I have talked to Armando and everything is very, very, very, very good, it's still always in the back of my mind. It's going to be a little apprehension; just walking onto the field is going to be something."

The missed call drew even the White House's attention, with presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs calling on baseball to award Galarraga a perfect game. It also renewed support for baseball to rely on instant replay to correct such mistakes.

Major League Baseball quickly ruled the call would stand -- changing it would have unprecedented -- and there are currently no plans to expand replay beyond deciding home run calls.