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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to return to the top of the American League Central.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tigers' walking wounded back in lineup for Game 4

You could make an argument for several players as the most valuable player for the Detroit Tigers during the regular season.

In the postseason, there’s no doubt of who’s been the most valuable employee of the organization: trainer Kevin Rand.

With starters for the Tigers dropping like flies, it’s fallen to Rand to keep the squad wired together with duct tape, ace bandages and tongue depressors.

The latest two to get dinged up are Delmon Young and Victor Martinez, both of whom have strained muscles in their sides. Young strained an oblique muscle in Game 5 of the ALDS last Thursday, and has played just once.

Martinez strained an intercostal muscle in his side after his home-run swing in Tuesday’s Game 3 win. He joked after the game, “The only way I don’t play tomorrow is if I wake up, and I’m dead.”

Sure enough, both were back in the lineup for Wednesday’s Game 4, hitting fourth (Martinez) and fifth (Young).

“Victor Martinez is one of the toughest guys I’ve ever been around. I’m talking about tough. I take my hat off – and Delmon Young the same. I don’t mean to downplay that,” Leyland said. “And Adrian Beltre, the same way. Players on both teams are tough, and I think they’re showing that. And I think they’re showing why they’re who they are. Big-time players expect to be in a lineup. They know the fans want to see them in the lineup. They know it helps their team.

“Actually, for a manager, it’s a little bit different, because you really hae to sit down and think about if the guy wants to play. I appreciate that, but if his effectiveness is not good because of this, just to put him in there, maybe you’re not always doing the right thing.”

While the major injuries are easily quantified — add the season-ending injuries to Magglio Ordonez and Brennan Boesch to those, along with the off-and-on injury status of Carlos Guillen — there are always nicks and bumps and bruises for those who’ve toughed out a full season.
Count catcher Alex Avila among those. Aside from the constant wear and tear of foul tips and blocking balls in the dirt, Avila’s also dealing with a strained knee.

“Pretty well banged up. You know, we’ve had our share of all that stuff, obviously with Magglio and Boesch and you can go on and on. And Alex is banged up pretty good,” Leyland said.
“You talk about tough, what you’re seeing earlier is what these guys are all about. It’s hard for the average person to understand what these guys are going through. His knee was swelling up pretty good not to long ago. The trainers are doing the best they can to take care of that.

“Everybody is banged up.”

But nobody is going to use it as an excuse.

“Not this team. Everybody’s battled all year,” utility man Don Kelly said. “And we’re not going to stop playing hard.”

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