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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.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Predicting the Detroit Tigers' September call-ups

Aside from predicting the roster in spring training, about the most fun you can have throwing darts at the board during the season is predicting the minor-league call-ups when the active rosters expand from 25 on Sept. 1.

As with most other recent seasons, the Detroit Tigers probably won’t add a ton of bodies, simply because they’re in the mode of trying to win now, not trying to see what’s down on the farm.

So far, from the hints he’s given off, first-year manager Brad Ausmus sounds like his philosophy on the process meshes pretty well with that of both general manager Dave Dombrowski, as well as his predecessor in the manager’s chair, Jim Leyland.

“Well, generally in a pennant race, you want to bring up guys that can help you win, but not turn your clubhouse into a sardine can,” Ausmus said last week. “General philosophy.”

There are some guys, though, who could help in pinch-hitting or pinch-running roles, as well as the reality that a bullen which has been overtaxed for much of the season could certainly use an influx of arms, so Ausmus never really has to worry about overusing anyone who doesn’t fall into the “back-end arm” category.

Here’s a look at some of the players who will probably be called up, when the calendar flips to September on Monday:

[UPDATED: Ausmus told reporters in Chicago that Moya, Collins, Perez will join the Tigers Monday; Ray, Lobstein and McCann Tuesday. Ryan will be recalled Tuesday, as well, but he really never left the team. Drew VerHagen — hurt after his spot start with the Tigers — will be recalled, and placed on the 60-day disabled list to make room for McCann on the 40-man roster.]

James McCann, C, Triple-A Toledo — Some are surprised he’s not up already, since his bat (.295 average, 34 doubles, 7 home runs) could provide an upgrade over current backup Bryan Holaday. The reality, though, is that McCann doesn’t know the pitching staff as well as Holaday, so he probably won’t get a ton of playing time, if he does come up, but he certainly will be useful as an emergency catcher who can also pinch hit against a tough lefty or two now and again.

Hernan Perez, IF, Triple-A Toledo — There were arguments that Perez, not Eugenio Suarez, should have been the Tigers’ pick when they were looking to figure out their shortstop position. Perez has been up each of the last two seasons, and certainly won’t be overawed, if he comes back again. He’s also quick enough to be used as a pinch runner here and there.

Kyle Lobstein, LHP, Triple-A Toledo — Pitched well in his big-league debut, and again in his big-league starting debut, and didn’t do anything to indicate that he won’t be the starter on Tuesday, the next time Anibal Sanchez’s spot in the rotation comes up.

Kyle Ryan, LHP, Triple-A Toledo — Matched Lobstein’s effort in his own MLB debut in Saturday’s doubleheader, tossing six scoreless innings to help the Tigers to a much-needed split. He’s done very well since his promotion to Toledo earlier this month, after an up-and-down start to the season in Double-A Erie, and has been told he’ll be back on Tuesday, after being “sent down” after Saturday’s game.

The later the Tigers go into September, the less likely they are to need one spot starter, let alone two, but it wouldn’t surprise me if both Lobstein and Ryan stick around for use in long relief.

Robbie Ray, LHP, Triple-A Toledo; Buck Farmer, RHP, Triple-A Toledo — If neither Lobstein nor Ryan fit in the long relief role, the Tigers might turn to two others who’ve spot started for them this season.

Steven Moya, OF, Double-A Erie — The MVP of the Eastern League, and Futures Game participant now holds the Seawolves’ single-season records for home runs (35) and RBI (104). He could conceivably give the Tigers some pop off the bench, but he’s not a defensive replacement by any stretch of the imagination, and his long swing might merely produce more strikeouts up two levels.


Melvin Mercedes, RHP, Triple-A Toledo
— Made a cameo appearance when the Tigers were waiting on Jim Johnson to be ready. Could come back, if they’re really stretching for relievers.

Tyler Collins, OF, Triple-A Toledo — He was on the Opening Day Tigers roster, and would give them another left-handed bat to use as a pinch-hitter. Can also run a bit, and play decent defense, but doesn’t really offer a huge improvement over the guys the Tigers already have in the outfield, and would be redundant if Moya comes up.

Jose Valdez, RHP, Double-A Erie — The Seawolves’ closer could come up to get a taste of big-league life, but probably wouldn’t be someone thrown into any significant role in the big leagues.


Mike Hessman, IF, Triple-A Toledo
— He’s not on the 40-man roster, but would be a sentimental add, rewarding a good organizational soldier who set the International League record for home runs midseason. The 36-year-old hasn’t been in the big leagues since 2010, and hasn’t been up with the Tigers since 2008.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Lineups for final game of Tigers-Yankees series

The Yankees and Tigers meet up for the final time in the regular season. The Tigers come in 2.5 games out in the American League Central, and a half-game out of the second AL Wild Card spot. New York is six games out in the AL East and two games behind the Tigers in the Wild Card standings.

Kyle Lobstein made his major league debut last weekend, but he'll get his first big-league start Thursday. The Tigers picked Lobstein in the Rule 5 draft two offseasons ago, and traded catcher Curt Casali to the Tampa Bay Rays so they could hold onto Lobstein's rights. He's 52-48 in 146 minor-league starts, and went 9-11 with a 4.07 ERA at Triple-A Toledo this season.

Rajai Davis, CF
Ian Kinsler, 2B
Miguel Cabrera, 1B
Victor Martinez, DH
JD Martinez, RF
Nick Castellanos, 3B
Don Kelly, LF
Alex Avila, C
Andrew Romine, SS

Pitcher: Kyle Lobstein, LHP (0-0, 4.76 ERA)

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Derek Jeter, SS
Martin Prado, 2B
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Carlos Beltran, DH
Brian McCann, C
Chase Headley, 3B
Brett Gardner, LF
Zelous Wheeler, RF

Pitcher: Hiroki Kuroda, RHP (9-8, 3.94 ERA)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

David Price knocked out of second-shortest start by nine straight Yankees hits

DETROIT — With the fifth starter role in limbo because of Anibal Sanchez’s injury, and Justin Verlander still a question mark, the Tigers can’t afford many poor starts from their top three of Max Scherzer, David Price and Rick Porcello.

So it was a sickening feeling, watching Price implode in the third inning vs. the Yankees on Wednesday, when he allowed nine straight hits without recording an out.

It was the second-shortest start of his career, behind a 1 1/3 inning appearance against the Texas Rangers on July 4, 2009.

Price allowed a leadoff single to Jacoby Ellsbury, followed by an RBI double by Derek Jeter, a single by Martin Prado, and an RBI double by Mark Teixeira.

Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann and Chase Headley all dropped in singles before Brett Gardner beat out an infield single to deep short. Francisco Cervelli’s single to left knocked Price out of the game.

The MLB record for consecutive hits by one team is 11. The most consecutive hits Price had ever given up was five in the bottom of the second inning on Sept. 5, 2013, against the LA Angels.

Manager Brad Ausmus replaced Price with Blaine Hardy, who got a pair of sacrifice flies, followed by a groundout, making the final damage eight runs in the third — the most Price has ever given up in any inning of his career, according to ESPN Stats and Info.

Lineups on Derek Jeter day at Comerica Park

The Tigers will honor retiring New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeteter with a pregame ceremony. Fans are asked to be in their seats by 6:40 p.m.

Ian Kinsler, 2B
Torii Hunter, RF
Miguel Cabrera, 3B
Victor Martinez, DH
J.D. Martinez, LF
Nick Castellanos, 3B
Alex Avila, C
Eugenio Suarez, SS
Rajai Davis, CF

Pitcher: David Price, LHP (12-9, 3.00 ERA)

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Derek Jeter, SS
Martin Prado, 2B
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Carlos Beltran, RF
Brian McCann, DH
Chase Headley, 3B
Brett Gardner, LF
Francisco Cervelli, C

Pitcher: Shane Greene, RHP (3-1, 3.17 ERA)

Moya, Fields, Travis highlight Tigers' big Arizona Fall League contingent

The Detroit Tigers don’t always send a large contingent of players to the Arizona Fall League, but they will this year, along with Double-A Erie manager Lance Parrish, who will skipper the Glendale Desert Dogs.

Parrish will have nearly a quarter of his pitching staff made up of Tigers minor leaguers, including Joe Mantiply, Zac Reininger, Chad Smith and Drew VerHagen.

Second base prospect Devon Travis will also be on the club, along with outfielders Steven Moya and Daniel Fields.

While both Travis and Fields were set back by injuries this year, Moya has been dissecting the Erie record book for most of the campaign.

The 6-foot-6 slugger came into Wednesday with 32 doubles, 34 home runs and 102 RBI, earning him mid-season and post-season All-Star status in the Eastern League (he was the top star in the EL All-Star Game), as well as a berth in the Futures Game.

Smith and VerHagen both had cups of coffee with the big-league club this season.

VIDEO: Kinsler's spectacular diving play helps out Porcello

Ian Kinsler made a spectacular diving grab to rob Ichiro Suzuki in Tuesday night's game. Rick Porcello talked about how Kinsler's defense has helped him in his own breakout season.

Here's a look at the play that had Porcello saying 'Wow':

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Lineups for series opener between Tigers and Yankees

NOTE: The start of the game was delayed more than an hour by rain.
The big pregame news was that starter Anibal Sanchez suffered a setback in Monday's throwing session, and may not be ready to pitch anytime soon.

Ian Kinsler, 2B
Torii Hunter, RF
Miguel Cabrera, 1B
Victor Martinez, DH
J.D. Martinez, LF
Nick Castellanos, 3B
Alex Avila, C
Eugenio Suarez, SS
Rajai Davis, CF

Pitcher: Rick Porcello, RHP (14-8, 3.10 ERA)

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Derek Jeter, DH
Brian McCann, C
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Carlos Beltran, RF
Martin Prado, 2B
J.D. Drew, SS
Chase Headley, 3B
Ichiro Suzuki, LF

Pitcher: Brandon McCarthy (8-12, 4.01 ERA)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Tigers to honor retiring Derek Jeter on Wednesday, Aug. 27

The Tigers will honor retiring New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter before the two teams play at Comerica Park on Wednesday, Aug. 27.

It's the middle contest of a three-game series. Technically, Jeter's last scheduled opportunity to play professionally in his home state will be the following day — barring, of course, another meeting between the two teams in the playoffs. The Tigers have asked that fans wishing to watch the ceremony be in their seats by 6:40 p.m.

Farmington Hills native Jena Irene, the runner-up on American Idol, will sing the national anthem.

There's been no indication what sort of gift the Tigers will give Jeter, who has been on a retirement tour this season.

He got a No. 2 made out of subway tiles from the Mets, a bench made out of bases and bats from the White Sox, specially-made cowboy boots from the Astros, a pinstriped Les Paul guitar from the Indians, the Metrodome's final second base from the Twins, Napa Valley wine from the A's, a Kingdome seat from the Mariners, a Wrigley scoreboard No. 2 from the Cubs, a surfboard from the Angels.

I asked on Twitter what kind of gift the Tigers are likely to give Jeter, and these are the responses I got:

Friday, August 22, 2014

REPORTS: Tigers miss out on Rusney Castillo, who signs with Red Sox

Having traded their center fielder of the present, the Detroit Tigers needed a center fielder of the near future.

By trying to outbid the rest of baseball for the services of Cuban defector Rusney Castillo, the Tigers had hoped that they could install him in center for the next few years.

That would have given them a way of replacing Austin Jackson, who was dealt to Seattle at the trade deadline, at least until first-round pick Derek Hill — an Austin Jackson clone picked out of high school in this summer's draft — is ready to go in a few years.

They’ll have to take another route to fill the gap, though, as multiple reports Friday had Castillo picking the Red Sox over the Tigers.

While most thought the Tigers were a finalist for the player's services, general manager Dave Dombrowski said in an MLB Network Radio interview the team was informed early Monday that they were out of the bidding, and hadn't had contact since then.

It's not surprising, given how high the bidding actually went.

Jesse Sanchez of reported it was a six-year, $72-million deal, a record first contract for a Cuban player.

Castillo is represented by Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, which negotiated Robinson Cano’s monster deal in the offseason. Since he’s older than 23, and played five professional seasons in Cuba, he is not subject to baseball’s international signing limitations.

The 27-year old Cuban star is a speed merchant who would be a natural fit in almost any team’s outfield, but could also play infield.

And, at a solid 5-foot-9 and 205 pounds, he’s got more tools than just one, flashing power at his July 26 showcase at the University of Miami. Baseball America’s Ben Badler compared him to a young Rajai Davis, the Tigers’ current primary center fielder, and the man he would have most likely supplanted in Detroit.

Since Castillo hasn’t played an organized baseball game in more than a year, and has yet to obtain a work visa to play baseball in the U.S., it could have been a rush for the Tigers to get him ready for the postseason.

Dombrowski said in the MLB Network Radio interview that all of their plans for Castillo were aiming toward 2015, and he was never in the team's plans for this year.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

No run support sticks David Price with rare complete-game, one-hit loss

David Price’s first trip back to Tampa Bay as a member of the Tigers was historic, all right.

Just not sure how memorable it’ll be for him, since his new teammates couldn’t muster any offense to support him. 

Despite no walks, and not even going to a three-ball count on a hitter — “I want a guy on or out in 3 pitches or less,” he’s said — and retiring 23 straight after the first-inning triple, Price earned his first loss in a Tigers uniform.

According to research on, Price is the 17th pitcher in baseball’s modern era (and first since Charlie Hough in 1986) to toss a complete-game one-hitter, without allowing an earned run, and still lose.

He’s the first to ever do it without walking a batter, and just the second to have the one hit be a triple.

It's the seventh time this season the Tigers have been shut out, and the second time this month they lost 1-0.

Upcoming rotation for the Tigers, as Justin Verlander rejoins the mix

With Justin Verlander coming through Thursday's light bullpen session fine, he'll slot back in to the Tigers rotation for the doubleheader on Saturday, allowing us to project the sequence out another turn through at least the following weekend.

Here's a look at how the rotation is likely to stack up going forward:

Friday, Aug. 22 — Robbie Ray, LHP
Saturday, Aug. 23 — Buck Farmer, RHP and Justin Verlander, RHP
Sunday, Aug. 24 — Max Scherzer, RHP
——off day——
Tuesday, Aug. 26 — Rick Porcello, RHP
Wednesday, Aug. 27 — David Price, LHP
Thursday, Aug. 28 — Robbie Ray, LHP (or Justin Verlander, RHP)
Friday, Aug. 29 — Justin Verlander, RHP (or Max Scherzer, RHP)
Saturday, Aug. 30 — Max Scherzer, RHP and Buck Farmer, RHP
Sunday, Aug. 31 — Rick Porcello, RHP

The next big question mark will be where to slot Ray back into the rotation, after Friday's start.

With the off day Monday, the Tigers could give Porcello and Price an extra day, then skip Ray on Thursday, and go with Verlander on five days' rest. The problem with that plan is that Scherzer would likely go Friday on normal rest, leaving the Tigers with the probability of starting two rookies, Ray and Farmer (or another minor leaguer), in the doubleheader at Chicago on Saturday, Aug. 30.

More likely, the Tigers will give an extra day to everyone in the rotation, allowing them to pitch Scherzer and Farmer in the twinbill.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

REPORT: Tigers' Justin Verlander expects to pitch in Saturday's doubleheader

Justin Verlander hasn’t had the season he’s wanted — but at least he’ll not have to go on the disabled list, since he considers it likely he will be back for Saturday’s doubleheader, having dealt with the inflammation that’s sidelined him for nine days.

Verlander told reporters in Tampa that he’ll throw a light bullpen Thursday and he’s definitely penciled in for one of the two Saturday games in Minnesota, according to MLive’s James Schmehl.

"I would say it's strong to quite strong," Verlander said of the possibility, as the Detroit Free Press' George Sipple reported.

That’s a huge news for Verlander, who hadn’t ever missed a start due to injury until this week, and has still never been on the DL.

“It means a lot to me. I’m very prideful of that, and I’ve put in a lot of work for that. I’ve actually never missed a start before, so it’s going to be tough. I guess now I’ll just hang my hat on not going on the DL, and stay off that,” he said last week, admitting that he didn’t know of he could get back to 100 percent that quickly.

“We’ll see. I’m excited to get back out there. Whether it’s 100 percent or not, I’ll be ready to pitch.”

After leaving his Aug. 11 start after just one inning, and getting an MRI the next day, Verlander had not touched a baseball until Tuesday, as the team’s medical staff worked to clear up the inflammation in his throwing shoulder.

Tuesday’s side session was to determine whether he could take the next step, and return to throwing or not. If he couldn't go by Saturday, it was possible he'd have to be put on the disabled list, anyway, to allow the team to bring up another arm.

In the interim, Verlander had sought second opinions on the diagnosis from various doctors, which came back with the same conclusion.

Robbie Ray will start Friday, Schmehl reported, while Buck Farmer will be recalled to start the other of the two Saturday games.

Tigers get the last laugh when Miguel Cabrera takes an intentional walk

It’s supposed to be a “pick your poison” proposition, when you set up a lineup.

Which guy do you want to be beaten by? This one, or this one?

For the Tigers, it’s worked out well any time an opposing manager has decided that they don’t want to be beaten by two-time defending American League Most Valuable Player Miguel Cabrera, and hand him an intentional walk.

And if there were questions about how Victor Martinez would protect Cabrera in the absence of the traded Prince Fielder, there should be none now.

In seven situations where Cabrera has been walked intentionally in front of him, Victor Martinez has gone 3-for-5 with a pair of home runs, adding two bases-loaded walks, and driving in 10 runs. The Tigers have won all eight games in which Cabrera has drawn an intentional walk.

In Tuesday’s game, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon tried the strategy twice, with a 50 percent success rate.

In the ninth inning, Jake McGee got Victor Martinez to pop out in foul territory, ending a budding threat, and keeping the game tied at 5-5.

In the 11th, though, it didn’t work so well, as Maddon had Grant Balfour load the bases to face Martinez, and Balfour — who’d infamously gotten into it with Victor Martinez in last year’s playoffs — issued a five-pitch walk to force in the go-ahead run. It was the first time since 2010 (Ramon Santiago, May 15 vs. Boston) that a Tigers player drew a bases-loaded walk in extra innings.

Cabrera has been walked twice this season with players other than Victor Martinez hitting behind him. Austin Jackson hit a two-run ground-rule double against the Padres in April, while J.D. Martinez had a fly out against the A’s in July.

Date  Inn. Opp. Result
4/12......9th.....SDP....Austin Jackson 2-run ground-rule double
5/23......5th.....TEX.....VMart lineout deep RF (productive out)
5/30......5th.....SEA.....VMart 3-run HR
6/24......7th.....TEX.....VMart bases-loaded walk, RBI
7/2........3rd.....OAK.....JD Martinez fly ball
8/2........5th......COL.....VMart 3-run HR
8/13......7th......PIT.......VMart bases-loaded single (2 RBI)
8/19......9th......TBR.....VMart foul pop-out
8/19.....11th.....TBR....VMart bases-loaded walk, RBI

Victor Martinez: 3-for-5, 2 bases-loaded walks, 10 RBI
Tigers as a team: 4-for-7, 2 walks, 12 RBI

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Talking Tigers on ChicagoLand Sports Radio on Monday

I went on ChicagoLand Sports Radio Monday afternoon, and talked a little Tigers and American League Central race with host Clinton Cole.

Here's the audio from that radio segment:

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Lineups for series finale between Mariners and Tigers

The two playoff contenders meet for the final game of the season series, with the Tigers a half game behind Kansas City for the AL Central lead, and a half game ahead of the Mariners for the second Wild Card slot.

Ian Kinsler, 2B
Ezequiel Carrera, CF
Miguel Cabrera, DH
Victor Martinez, 1B
JD Martinez, RF
Nick Castellanos, 3B
Alex Avila, C
Andrew Romine, SS
Rajai Davis, LF

Pitcher: Robbie Ray, LHP (1-2, 5.31 ERA)

Seattle is 26-16 in games against a left-handed starter, third-best record in the AL behind Oakland (20-13) and Detroit (25-17).

Austin Jackson, CF
Dustin Ackley, LF
Robinson Cano, 2B
Kendrys Morales, DH
Kyle Seager, 3B
Chris Denorfia, RF
Logan Morrison, 1B
Chris Taylor, SS
Jesus Sucre, C

Pitcher: Chris Young (11-6, 3.20 ERA)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

'The National Anthem Girl' makes Comerica Park state No. 48 on anthem bicentennial tour

DETROIT — Long Island native Janine Stange, known as “The National Anthem Girl,” has almost completed her mission to perform the “Star Spangled Banner” in all 50 states before the song’s bicentennial next month.

Her stop at Comerica Park on Saturday, to perform the anthem before the Detroit Tigers played the Seattle Mariners, crossed off state No. 48 on her list.

“For 90 seconds, no matter who we voted for, or what team we want to win — we are as one. When we stand with our hands over our hearts, we are singing 'our song.’ That is always to be regarded as a privilege, not a formality,” she said in a press release. “I hope this mission brings a renewed awareness, honor and respect for those who have fought and sacrificed their time, well being, families...and lives for our freedom.”

The only stops left are at the U.S.S. Missouri memorial in Pearl Harbor next Friday, followed by her final stop in Nashville, Tenn., for the Tennesee Titans and Minnesota Vikings game.

On Sept. 14, she’ll open the festivities for the bicentennial celebration, somewhere near the ramparts of Ft. McHenry in Baltimore, Md.

Her journey started in her home state on July 3, 2012, performing before a game between the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays.

For more on her tour, go to

Lineups for Mariners-Tigers, as King Felix and David Price square off

David Price and Felix Hernandez have never faced each other on the mound — at least not until Saturday night's game at Comerica Park.

The Mariners enter the contest a half-game up on the Tigers for the second Wild Card slot in the American League. Detroit is a game and a half out of first in the American League Central, matching their largest deficit of the season.

Price's first pitch at home, ironically, will be to one of the players he was traded for, Austin Jackson.

On Friday, Jackson was welcomed back to Comerica Park for the first time since the trade.

Ian Kinsler, 2B
Ezequiel Carrera, CF
Miguel Cabrera, 1B
Victor Martinez, DH
Torii Hunter, RF
JD Martinez, LF
Nick Castellanos, 3B
Alex Avila, C
Eugenio Suarez, SS

Pitcher: David Price, LHP (11-8, 3.21 ERA)

Austin Jackson, CF
Dustin Ackley, LF
Robinson Cano, 2B
Kendrys Morales, DH
Denorfia, RF
Kyle Seager, 3B
Mike Zunino, C
Logan Morrison, 1B
Chris Taylor SS

Pitcher: Felix Hernandez, RHP (13-3, 1.95 ERA)

Price talked Friday about what he had to do in the matchup. Watch the VIDEO below:

Friday, August 15, 2014

Miguel Cabrera bobblehead dolls mistakenly identify him as MVP of the National League

Photo courtesy of

Miguel Cabrera has had an amazing couple of seasons for the Detroit Tigers.

He won a Triple Crown for the first time since 1967. He's won back-to-back Most Valuable Player awards.

Certainly worth enshrining him with a bobblehead doll, right?

Except there was one little issue with the ones given out to the first 10,000 guests at Comerica Park Friday night: The dolls — which had two little replica Kennesaw Mountain Landis trophies in its clasp — had "Most Valuable Player of the National League" printed on the plaques.


The company that manufactured the bobbleheads released the following statement:

"Forever Collectibles takes full responsibility for this error and we apologize to the fans. We are certainly disappointed this happened."

Since the dolls were prepackaged, the Tigers said they had no knowledge of the error before the giveaway.

The upside? It'll probably be a collector's item.

Lineups for Wild Card showdown between Mariners and Tigers

The series brings Austin Jackson back to town, after last month's three-team trade. In his first dozen games in Seattle, Jackson is hitting .250 (12-for-48) with just one extra-base hit and an OPS of .579.

Rajai Davis, CF
Ian Kinsler, 2B
Miguel Cabrera, 1B
Victor Martinez, DH
Torii Hunter, RF
JD Martinez, LF
Nick Castellanos, 3B
Bryan Holaday, C
Eugenio Suarez, SS

Pitcher: Rick Porcello, RHP (13-7, 3.11 ERA)

Austin Jackson, CF
Dustin Ackley, LF
Robinson Cano, 2B
Kendrys Morales, DH
Kyle Seager, 1B
Mike Zunino, C
Logan Morrison, 1B
Endy Chavez, RF
Chris Taylor, SS

Pitcher: James Paxton, LHP (2-0, 2.38 ERA)

Paxton has won his first five decision to start his big-league career, and his 1.93 ERA is the lowest in Mariners history through eight starts, better than Felix Hernandez (2.33) and Michael Pineda (2.45). As a group, the Mariners starters lead MLB with a 2.95 ERA.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Not sure what the signal is, exactly, but it doesn't look good, Joe

Protecting a four-run lead in the ninth, Joe Nathan walked the two batters he faced Wednesday night at Comerica Park. At one point, he'd thrown eight balls and five strikes.

Needless to say, the sellout crowd at Comerica Park wasn't happy, as boos rained down.

Apparently, neither was Nathan, who got a flyout and a double play to end the game.

This was recorded off the ROOT Sports feed by Malinda Mosholder.

You be the judge.

[UPDATED: Nathan apologized for his actions Thursday morning.]

Tigers lineup as home-and-home series with Pirates continue

The Tigers attempt to snap a four-game losing skid, sending rookie call-up Buck Farmer to the mound for his MLB debut.

In order to get Farmer on the active roster, the Tigers optioned Kevin Whelan to Toledo. To open a spot on the 40-man roster for Farmer, the Tigers designated Ramon Cabrera for assignment. He was claimed off waivers by the Pittsburgh Pirates, his old organization. The Tigers acquired Cabrera in a minor league swap for Andy Oliver.

Ezequiel Carrera, CF
Ian Kinsler, 2B
Miguel Cabrera, 1B
Victor Martinez, DH
Torii Hunter, RF
Don Kelly, LF
Nick Castellanos, 3B
Alex Avila, C
Eugenio Suarez, SS

Pitcher: Buck Farmer, RHP

Josh Harrison, 3B
Gregory Polanco, RF
Russell Martin, C
Ike Davis, 1B
Starling Marte, CF
Pedro Alvarez, DH
Jordy Mercer, SS
Travis Snider, LF
Jayson Nix, 2B

Pitcher: Vance Worley

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

MRI shows no major structural damage for Verlander, who may avoid trip to dL

Best-case scenario, really.

The MRI done on Justin Verlander’s shoulder Tuesday found inflammation in multiple spots but no major structural damage, manager Brad Ausmus told reporters in Pittsburgh.

“The initial news is very good,” Ausmus said, as reported by MLive’s Chris Iott.

He may avoid the disabled list and, while he’s unlikely to make his next start Sunday, is hopeful for next week.

Verlander left Monday’s start after throwing 40 pitches in just one inning, saying he felt soreness in his shoulder, something that “had been lingering for a little while.”

The main issue will be reducing the inflammation in his shoulder.

In other moves, the Tigers officially placed Anibal Sanchez on the 15-day disabled list with a strain of the right pectoralis major. Called up Monday and used for two innings after Verlander’s exit, Justin Miller has been sent back to Toledo, and Blaine Hardy recalled.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Buck Farmer gets call from Double-A, will start Wednesday for Tigers

Congratulations from a former teammate can now break news.

When West Michigan starter Kevin Ziomek posted a congratulatory note to Buck Farmer on Twitter Monday night, it broke the news that Buck Farmer would be heading to the big leagues.

A fifth round pick of the Tigers in last year’s draft, Farmer started as Ziomek’s rotation-mate with the Class A Whitecaps this season, before moving up to Double-A Erie late last month. He’s made two starts for the SeaWolves, but will now join the big-league club, and start Wednesday’s series opener in Detroit.

With Justin Verlander leaving Monday’s game after just one inning with shoulder soreness, the Tigers had to deplete a bullpen that had just been reinforced with three additions earlier in the day. Verlander is headed back to Detroit, and will be further evaluated.

That leaves Monday call-up Robbie Ray to start Tuesday’s game, followed by Farmer Wednesday, Max Scherzer on Thursday, Rick Porcello — who threw two innings in Sunday’s 19-inning marathon — pushed back to Friday, and David Price on Saturday.

After that, it depends on health and the success of the two spot starters.

Here is Ziomek's tweet:

Justin Verlander pulled after shortest outing of his career

Justin Verlander left after just one inning of Monday’s start in Pittsburgh, the shortest outing of his career.

Verlander threw 40 pitches in the first inning, as the Pirates batted around, posting five runs. After a brief, confused scramble in the Tigers dugout — where it appeared they were determining whether or not to pinch hit for Verlander — the starter hit for himself in the top of the second, laying down a sacrifice bunt.

[UPDATE: Verlander left the game with right shoulder soreness, and will be further evaluated Tuesday.]

The previous shortest was 1 2/3 innings on Sept. 1, 2008, against the New York Yankees.

Just called up from Triple-A Toledo on Monday, Justin Miller took over on the mound for Verlander in the bottom of the second inning.

Verlander has not had a good season to date, coming in 10-10, with an ERA of 4.57, on the heels of offseason core muscle repair surgery.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

REPORT: Tigers to call up Kevin Whelan, one of three players once traded for Sheffield

Kevin Whelan has finally earned a spot on the Detroit Tigers, the team that originally drafted him nine years ago.

Traded to the Yankees in 2006, along with Anthony Claggett and Humberto Sanchez, in return for Gary Sheffield, Whelan got the call to report to the big-league Tigers’ big-league club after Sunday’s game.

The Toledo Blade’s John Wagner broke the news of the move.

The Tigers’ fourth-round pick in the 2005 MLB draft, Whelan made his big-league debut with the Yankees in 2011, appearing in two games in mid-June for the Yankees.

He’s been stuck in Triple-A ever since, spending the 2012 season in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, then moving to the Reds’ Louisville affiliate last year before signing with the Tigers organization in February.

He’s posted a 1.85 ERA in 35 games as the Mud Hens’ closer, racking up 20 saves, and striking out 48 in 39 innings of work.

Whelan takes the spot on the active roster vacated when Joakim Soria was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Sunday.

The Tigers will have to make move to put Whelan on the 40-man roster, which is at capacity at the moment.

If the Tigers were to call up recent addition Jim Johnson (who threw again on Sunday), they'd have to make a second deletion from the 40-man roster.

That probably makes it more likely that if the Tigers need to replenish a bullpen exhausted after Sunday's 19-inning game, they may go to a list of relievers already on the 40-man roster, which includes: Ian Krol, Melvin Mercedes, Justin Miller, Jose Ortega  and Chad Smith at Triple-A Toledo, and Jose Valdez at Double-A Erie.

[UPDATED: Wagner later reported that the Tigers would call up Miller and Krol, as well. Robbie Ray is set to start either Tuesday or Wednesday in Anibal Sanchez's spot in the rotation. Miller, Krol and Ray are all on the 40-man roster, so only one move (for Whelan) need be made there. Likely either Patrick McCoy or Blaine Hardy (both threw three innings Sunday) will go down, leaving three open spots on the active roster (Soria, Sanchez, McCoy/Hardy). One of the three relievers called up will be sent down before Ray joins the team to start.]

Tigers put Sanchez, Soria on the DL

The Detroit Tigers placed a pair of ailing pitchers — starter Anibal Sanchez and reliever Joakim Soria — on the disabled list Sunday.

Sanchez is expected to miss three to four weeks with a strain of his right pectoralis major that took him out of his last start Friday, and will be replaced in the starting rotation, at least initially by Robbie Ray.

Soria injured his left oblique in Saturday’s game.

The Tigers have not yet announced who will fill Soria’s roster spot, with the options including Ian Krol, Kevin Whelan and recent acquisition Jim Johnson, according to general manager Dave Dombrowski.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Tigers get first look at Jim Johnson in action; Parrish: 'I thought he was fine'

TOLEDO, Ohio — It’s hard to properly assess a performance, if you have no baseline by which to judge.

Even though Jim Johnson’s numbers in his first outing with the Tigers’ Triple-A affiliate were not stellar — two hits, two runs, one throwing error — it’s hard to put that in perspective, given that it’s the first time he’d thrown in front of the Mud Hens staff.

“I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know what kind of stuff I was going to see, command. He was fine. I thought he was fine,” said manager Larry Parrish, after Johnson threw 22 pitches (15 for strikes) in two-thirds of an inning Friday night against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at Fifth Third Field in Toledo.

“I don’t know how he normally pitches, if he normally throws a lot of off-speed.”

As an organization, the Tigers are just getting to know Johnson, who they signed to a minor-league deal Tuesday after he was designated for assignment after his last outing on July 23, then released on Aug. 1.

They got their first look Friday.

Trying to put the past four months behind him, Johnson got a clean inning to work with, starting the eighth, despite starter Kyle Ryan having “some pitches left,” according to Parrish. He was clocked between 91 and 94 mph on the fastball, sitting most frequently at 93.

• Cameron Rupp, hitting .138, lined Johnson’s first pitch into the right-field corner for a single.

• Clete Thomas attempted a bunt, and after one foul, got it down. It went right to Johnson, who whirled and threw toward second base, attempting to get the lead runner, Rupp. It sailed wide of shortstop Hernan Perez, and into center field.

“He didn’t throw bad tonight. First guy got a hit. Then he has the bunt. We didn’t handle throw. The ball tailed and he (Perez) was flat-footed,” Parrish said. “That set it up first and third. Next play, you get the ground ball, and inning over.”

• Instead, the next play was a grounder to short — a likely double play ball, had it not been a scoreless tie — by Cesar Hernandez, and Perez went home to get the lead runner, keeping it tied. Six pitches in, and Johnson had two runners on and one out.

• Freddy Galvis got ahead 3-1, took a strike, fouled off a 3-2 pitch, then lined a shot into right-center field to double home two runs.

• After getting ahead of Maikel Franco with two ugly swings-and-misses on the breaking ball, Johnson had to throw seven more pitches before putting Franco away, getting him to ground out to short.

That’s when Parrish went and got Johnson, replacing him with Melvin Mercedes.

“He was supposed to throw 20-25. Pitch count was right in between there,” Parrish said. “He wanted to throw to the next hitter. Understandable. But I told him ‘I got my orders.’”

Johnson is slated to pitch again on Sunday, then again on Wednesday, possibly two innings, but Parrish has no timetable after that.

“The thing up there, who knows? He could throw Sunday and be gone. I don’t know. I don’t have any idea what they’re thinking,” the manager said. “We just do what they say.”

Expect his first couple of outings, at least, to be the coaching staff at Toledo gathering information and getting a feel for Johnson as a pitcher, before they can truly delve into any 'fixes' he might need.

And before they can assess whether or not he can help the big-league club. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Post-trade deadline live chat, set for Wednesday at 3 p.m.

The Tigers made a huge addition at last week's non-waiver trade deadline, picking up David Price. We'll talk about that and other things Tigers related at 3 p.m. today (Wednesday, Aug. 6).

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Torii Hunter leaves game after being hit on left hand

Tigers right fielder Torii Hunter left Tuesday's game after being hit on the left hand by New York reliever Dellin Betances in the top of the ninth inning.

Hunter was checked out on the field by head trainer Kevin Rand, and left immediately thereafter, looking like he was in a lot of pain.

[UPDATE: The Tigers announced that X-rays on Hunter's hand were negative; it's being listed as a contusion. He will be reevaluated on Wednesday.]

The Tigers already lost starting shortstop Eugenio Suarez to a knee injury in the series.

REPORT: Tigers have signed A's castoff Jim Johnson to minor league deal

When former Orioles and A’s closer Jim Johnson worked out Monday in Florida, there were reports that he did not sign with his old team, the O’s, but rather with a mystery team.

Mystery solved, as Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported that the Detroit Tigers were the mystery team, signing him to a minor-league deal, according to a source.

[UPDATED: The Tigers think Johnson is a risk worth taking.]

Johnson saved 101 games for Baltimore in 2012-13, earning an All-Star bid the first of those two seasons, as well as Cy Young and MVP votes.

In the offseason, he was traded to Oakland for Jemile Weeks and David Freitas, then struggled to a 7.14 ERA and just two saves before being released on Aug. 1. (His other stats: 2.058 WHIP, 5.30 FIP, 13.4 hits/9, 5.1 walks/9, 6.2 K/9)

The 31-year-old was due $10 million from the A’s this year, but couldn’t hold the closing job, losing it to Sean Doolittle early in the season. He would be owed only the pro-rated portion of the veteran’s minimum from the Tigers, making it a low-risk, potential high-reward move, if he could figure it out.

Avila named AL's second-best defensive catcher in Baseball America's tools survey

Baseball America did its annual survey of big-league managers to find teh best tools in the majors, and several Tigers were ranked among the best in specific categories. [You can read the full results here.]

There are some obvious results. And a surprise or two. 

Ian Kinsler was ranked as the third-best defensive second baseman, behind Dustin Pedroia and Robinson Cano.

Alex Avila was ranked second in the best defensive catcher category, behind Salvador Perez.

Miguel Cabrera ranks No. 1 in the best hitter category, No. 2 in best power, best strike-zone judgement (behind teammate Victor Martinez) and No. 2 in most exciting player (behind Mike Trout).

Rajai Davis is No. 2 in the fastest baserunner category (displaying the ‘rockets in his behind’ that Torii Hunter talked about) behind Jarrod Dyson.

Each of the Tigers’ three former Cy Young winners — Justin Verlander (3rd, best curveball), Max Scherzer (T2nd, best slider and best change-up) and David Price (T2nd, best change-up) ranked among the top three with one or more of their pitches, while Price was ranked as having the best control in the American League, and the second-best pickoff move.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Ezequiel Carrera makes sensational catch in first start for Tigers

I wrote before that the Tigers were taking a risk — albeit calculated — in center field, going with a platoon of Rajai Davis and Ezequiel Carrera in center field. [You can read it here.]

In his first start with the Tigers on Monday, Carrera may have assuaged some of those doubts, with a spectacular diving catch with the bases loaded in the bottom of the third inning. Derek Jeter, who was on first at the time, mouthed "Wow" after the catch, which saved at least two runs. It still went in the books as a sacrifice fly for Jacoby Ellsbury.

You can watch the video of the play here:

Scherzer's wife, Erica, was impressed, too.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Tigers lineup for series finale vs. Rockies

The lineups for Sunday's get-away day series finale at Comerica Park (1:08 p.m.).

Rajai Davis, CF
Ian Kinsler, 2B
Miguel Cabrera, 1B
Victor Martinez, DH
Torii Hunter, RF
J.D. Martinez, LF
Nick Castellanos, 3B
Alex Avila, C
Eugenio Suarez, SS

Pitcher: Anibal Sanchez, RHP (7-5, 3.57 ERA)

Corey Dickerson, DH
Josh Rutledge, SS
Nolan Arenado, 3B
Justin Morneau, 1B
Drew Stubbs, CF
Jason Pridie, LF
Wilin Rosario, C
Brandon Barnes, RF
D.J. LeMahieu, 2B

Pitcher: Jorge De La Rosa (11-6, 4.20 ERA)

Friday, August 1, 2014

Lineups for opener of Tigers-Rockies series

Rajai Davis, CF
Ian Kinsler, 2B
Miguel Cabrera, 1B
Victor Martinez, DH
Torii Hunter, RF
J.D. Martinez, LF
Nick Castellanos, 3B
Bryan Holaday, C
Eugenio Suarez, SS

Pitcher: Justin Verlander, RHP (9-9, 4.79 ERA)

Charlie Blackmon, LF
Corey Dickerson, DH
Nolan Arenado, 3B
Justin Morneau, 1B
Carlos Gonzalez, RF
Drew Stubbs, CF
Wilin Rosario, C
Josh Rutledge, SS
D.J. LeMahieu, 2B

Pitcher: Franklin Morales, LHP (5-5, 5.18 ERA)

Tigers send Ian Krol down to 'get him back to the pitcher we know he can be'

DETROIT — The afternoon started with rumors that the Detroit Tigers were going to bolster their bullpen with the addition of a left-handed reliever.

They eventually did, recalling the injury assignment of Pat McCoy from Triple-A Toledo.

Not really what you envisioned? That feeling is probably universal.

While the Tigers did not pull of a trade deadline deal to reinforce the bullpen, they did make a minor move in the aftermath of the afternoon’s blockbuster deal, bringing McCoy off the disabled list, and sending fellow lefty Ian Krol to Triple-A Toledo to work on his issues.

“We want to send Krol out and get him some additional work that we talked about, and try to get him back to the pitcher we know he can be,” general manager Dave Dombrowski said.

Krol started the season pretty well, before hurting his shoulder in late June. Even once he got the inflammation cleared out, and returned to the Tigers in early July, he hasn’t been quite the same.

“I don’t know if there’s necessarily a particular thing he has to do to get back on track. His velocity’s been down a tick. Even after coming off the DL, we thought that rest might help but his velocity’s been down a tick. I think as a result, he’s a little bit more trepidatious around the strike zone with his pitches. I think when he was throwing a little bit harder, he attacked the hitters a little more. He probably should get back to that,” manager Brad Ausmus said.

“I think pitchers sometimes, when they feel their velocity is down, they try to be more careful with their pitches. If you feel like you don’t have quite the finish on your pitches, you feel like you have to locate a little bit better.”

Krol has an ERA of 9.00 since returning from the disabled list, allowing opponents a .400 batting average against, and an OPS of .955, hitting a line drive nearly half the time they put the ball in play.