April 7th, 2010

Wednesday: Tigers at Royals

It took until Game 2 this season for manager Jim Leyland to want to ward off questions about his day-to-day lineups, probably because he didn’t want to answer a bunch of questions about his changes for the second game. His past history shows that he usually tries to get in all of his position players within the first few games.

In the case of Alex Avila, that means he’s catching today. He’ll have Gerald Laird catching Dontrelle tomorrow and Rick Porcello for the home opener on Friday, so if he was going to get Avila a game within the first four days, now was the time.

“If I’m not going to catch him, I shouldn’t have brought him,” Leyland said. “I’m going to play everybody. That’s what a team’s all about, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Likewise, Leyland said Ryan Raburn will start at second base on Thursday, but said it doesn’t mean anything about Scott Sizemore’s status. He’s going to watch Sizemore and third baseman Brandon Inge and try to get them rest.

“We’re going to need them all,” Leyland said, “and I’m going to play them all.”

TIGERS

  1. Jackson, CF
  2. Damon, LF
  3. Ordonez, RF
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Guillen, DH
  6. Inge, 3B
  7. Avila, C
  8. Sizemore, 2B
  9. Santiago, SS

P: Max Scherzer

ROYALS

  1. David DeJesus, RF
  2. Scott Podsednik, LF
  3. Alberto Callaspo, 3B
  4. Billy Butler, 1B
  5. Rick Ankiel, CF
  6. Jose Guillen, DH
  7. Yuniesky Betancourt, SS
  8. Jason Kendall, C
  9. Chris Getz, 2B

P: Luke Hochevar

Minor-league tidbits: Crosby update, Jensen retires

Talked today with Tigers minor league operations director Dan Lunetta, who sounded pretty optimistic that Casey Crosby’s elbow injury isn’t going to require surgery. The highly-regarded pitching prospect will open the season on the disabled list, but the elbow is supposedly fine. The hope is to get him throwing again in about two weeks.

“There’s some inflammation and we need to get it quieted,” Lunetta said.

Any elbow injury with Crosby is obviously a big deal after he underwent Tommy John surgery following the 2007 draft. He’s slated to start out the season at Class A Lakeland.

Meanwhile, at Double-A Erie, the SeaWolves will open the season without either of the relievers who tied for the team lead in saves last year. While Cody Satterwhite is on the disabled list with his shoulder injury, Brett Jensen unexpectedly retired. He’s just 26 years old, and he’s healthy, but by all accounts, he’s ready to do something else.

“He just decided it was time for him to take his life in a different direction,” Lunetta said.

Jensen wasn’t a highly-regarded prospect by any means; he was left off the 40-man roster over the winter. But as a 6-foot-7 right-hander with a sidearming delivery, he had some ingredients to maybe develop into a big-league reliever down the road. Jensen went 5-5 with a 3.19 ERA and 12 saves at Erie last year, striking out 59 batters over 53 2/3 innings.

On the minor-league wire, Kory Casto and Ryan Roberson have joined Jason Stokes among the veteran hitters to be released by the Tigers this spring.

Something to track with Cabrera tonight

While Max Scherzer’s Tigers debut is a pretty big deal tonight for those following the game, there’s a little bit of history on the line whenever Miguel Cabrera steps to the plate against Royals starter Luke Hochevar. Cabrera has hits in his last eight plate appearances against Hochevar dating back to May 14, 2008. Hochevar struck out Cabrera his first time up in that game, and Cabrera has been perfect against him ever since — two hits in that game, 3-for-3 on July 21, 2008, then 3-for-3 last August 15.

Trent McCotter at SABR went through the work of looking through Tigers games on Retrosheet since 1954, as far as the necessary records go back. According to his research, Cabrera’s 8-for-8 streak is tied for the longest run of consecutive hits a Tigers hitter has had against an individual pitcher in that time. The list …

HITS – BATTER VS. PITCHER, YEARS
8 – Harvey Kuenn vs. Dick Donovan, all in 1958
8 – Al Kaline vs. Bill Monbouquette, 1961-63
8 – Lou Whitaker vs. Charles Nagy, 1994-95
8 – Miguel Cabrera vs. Luke Hochevar, 2008-09

Much thanks to Mr. McCotter for the information. He also passes along that the Major League record for consecutive hits is held by Don Hoak, who went 13-for-13 with two walks against Joe Nuxhall from 1956-60.

What also stands out about Cabrera’s streak is the type of hits. Cabrera doesn’t have a home run against Hochevar. His only extra-base hit off him is a double. The other seven hits were singles, including an infield grounder last August.

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