August 2011

Kelly to paternity list, Worth recalled

Another day, another Tiger about to become a dad. This time it’s Don Kelly, who was placed on the paternity leave list Friday while he returns to Detroit to be with his wife. Danny Worth was called up from Triple-A Toledo to take his spot.

No word on how long Kelly will be on the list. Players can be on there for 1-3 days. Miguel Cabrera was on for one day for the birth of his son, Christopher Alexander. He’s scheduled to rejoin the team today from Miami.

Penny takes issue with Maddon’s comments

A day after Rays manager Joe Maddon said he would’ve had no problem with Sean Rodriguez charging the mound on Brad Penny Tuesday, Penny said Maddon had the wrong idea what happened during his exchange with Rodriguez in that game.

Maddon suggested Penny yelled at Rodriguez for hustling on a fly ball to left that led off the seventh inning.

“For anybody to bark at another player for … hustling is absolutely insane, ludicrous,” Maddon told reporters after Wednesday’s game, according to the St. Petersburg Times. “And if Sean had just charged the mound, I’d have been fine with that at that particular moment.”

Penny said Thursday morning that was totally false. His problem with Rodriguez, he said, was with his yelling in frustration while he rounded first base.

“He’s just screaming and cussing because he got out,” Penny said. “I guess he should’ve hit the ball out of the park like he does every at-bat.”

Rodriguez entered Thursday batting .213 with five home runs this season.

“He’s screaming [curse words],” Penny continued. “Well, what are you supposed to do, hit every ball out of the park? Come on. To me, that’s a sign of disrespect if you scream it that loud. I mean, you don’t have to go out of your way. All these kids can hear you. It’s not too loud in here. So to me, that’s not being professional.

“Why would I get on somebody for not hustling? That’s the stupidest thing I ever heard. I love when guys hustle. I may get on them for not hustling, maybe — not their guy, our guys. I have no problem with hustle.”

Rodriguez’s hustle, ironically, won the game Wednesday, beating out a throw to second base as the winning run scored.

As for Maddon’s suggestion of charging the mound, Penny had similar sentiments.

“For the manager to say I’m fine with him charging the mound, that’s stupid,” Penny said. “First of all, fine, charge the mound. I don’t care. I mean, they don’t build fences around the mound. But for him to say that over something he obviously has no knowledge of what happened, it’s amazing.”

Thursday: Tigers at Rays

Brennan Boesch is out of the lineup today, and judging by Jim Leyland’s remarks, he’s a little worse than day-to-day with the sprained right thumb.

“I don’t want to paint a bleak picture,” Leyland said Thursday morning, “but I don’t think it’s too good.”

With Boesch out and Miguel Cabrera on paternity leave, Leyland looked for ways to keep Alex Avila in the starting lineup. He debated using him at DH, but the team medical staff said Victor Martinez wasn’t ready for first base. He debated using Avila at first base, but worried about him getting injured on a freak play at a position he hasn’t played since college.

Eventually, Leyland decided to bite the bullet and give Avila a total day off.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Ramon Santiago, 2B
  3. Delmon Young, LF
  4. Victor Martinez, DH
  5. Wilson Betemit, 3B
  6. Don Kelly, 1B
  7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  8. Ryan Raburn, RF
  9. Omir Santos, C

P: Doug Fister

RAYS

  1. Desmond Jennings, CF
  2. Johnny Damon, DH
  3. Evan Longoria, 3B
  4. Ben Zobrist, 2B
  5. Casey Kotchman, 1B
  6. Matt Joyce, RF
  7. Sam Fuld, LF
  8. Sean Rodriguez, SS
  9. Kelly Shoppach, C

P: Jeremy Hellickson

Breaking down the fielder’s choice

To Brandon Inge, second base was the only option on Elliot Johnson’s ground ball, as you might have heard already.

“It’s very cut-and-dry: A ball hit to the left of you, you go to second base,” Inge said. “A ball hit dead at you, if you have the time, you go step on third, or go across the infield. But a ball to your left, you go to second base. That’s a fact.”

To manager Jim Leyland, Inge had other options.

“I thought there was an out probably at first, or probably at third,” Leyland said. “But that’s part of the game.”

To Ramon Santiago, he had to cover the bag.

“No doubt about it, I have to cover,” Santiago said. “Bases loaded and nobody covering, [Rodriguez] got a big lead off first. I got there as quickly as I can. It was close, but I think he was out.”

Somewhere in that mix, a potential inning-ending ground ball ended up being a walkoff fielder’s choice. Where that happened is up for debate.

Inge made a quick decision based on where he was positioned and what he saw. Whether he saw where Santiago was positioned when making his throw wasn’t clear. He threw it to the base, but Santiago was behind it and trying to catch up. I didn’t see a replay where Santiago was positioned and when he broke for the bag, but he said it was his immediate thought.

Sean Rodriguez, who beat Santiago to the bag, seemed to lean towards the covering the base part of the play.

“Inge got rid of it pretty good,” Rodriguez said, “but Santiago didn’t get there early enough, because the ball beat me there but he didn’t. His foot didn’t beat me there. … When I went to slide, I knew he wasn’t there yet.”

Regardless, it looks bad for everybody, of course. Inge and Santiago are the defensive options in the platoons at their respective positions. It doesn’t mean either of them are bad defenders, but it didn’t look like good execution. If it was, the game probably continues.

Boesch pulled with sore thumb

The Tigers already knew they were going to be without Miguel Cabrera on Thursday due to paternity leave. They’ll now have to get through the series finale against the Rays without Brennan Boesch, who left Wednesday’s game with soreness in his previously injured right thumb.

Boesch had played through the injury for a week and a half after injuring it on the last road trip, but it had been an increasing concern in recent days. After three strikeouts in as many at-bats Wednesday, manager Jim Leyland made the decision to replace him in right field with Don Kelly once Alex Avila’s home run tied the game.

“His thumb’s sore,” Leyland said after the game. “It’s been bothering him. He’s not going to play tomorrow.”

Boesch has been struggling statistically in recent days. Though he’s 6-for-24 since returning from the injury, he has eight strikeouts in his last 18 at-bats. He only has one extra-base hit since his return, a double last week.

His absence likely means Magglio Ordonez will get his second start of the series.

If the thumb injury lingers, it’s a concern for the Tigers heading into the stretch. They’ve found offensive production batting Boesch second between speedy Austin Jackson and recent acquisition Delmon Young.

Cabrera to miss Thursday, Santos headed up

Miguel Cabrera will miss the series finale against the Rays on Thursday to be with his wife in Miami for the birth of their third child.

Cabrera is only expected to be out for a day, rejoining the team in Minnesota. Thanks to MLB’s paternity leave list, they can have someone replace him on the roster for that day. And thanks to that, the Tigers can take care of a depth issue at another spot.

Though the Tigers didn’t announce who would be called up once Cabrera left, manager Jim Leyland said Wednesday afternoon they would have a move. Minutes later, Toledo Blade reporter John Wagner spotted Omir Santos packing his bags and heading out of the Mud Hens clubhouse prior to Wednesday night’s game at Fifth Third Field. He’s headed up, which would allow him to start here Thursday and give Alex Avila his first game out of the starting lineup in three weeks. Considering the Tigers don’t have another off day until Sept. 8, the game off could be huge.

Wednesday: Tigers at Rays

Pretty standard lineup going against Wade Davis. That now includes Ramon Santiago at second base.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Brennan Boesch, RF
  3. Delmon Young, LF
  4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  5. Victor Martinez, DH
  6. Alex Avila, C
  7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  8. Wilson Betemit, 3B
  9. Ramon Santiago, 2B

P: Max Scherzer

RAYS

  1. Desmond Jennings, CF
  2. Johnny Damon, DH
  3. Evan Longoria, 3B
  4. Ben Zobrist, 2B
  5. Matt Joyce, RF
  6. Casey Kotchman, 1B
  7. Sam Fuld, LF
  8. John Jaso, C
  9. Reid Brignac, SS

P: Wade Davis

Tuesday: Tigers at Rays

Remember when Jim Leyland said last weekend that one reason for calling up Inge now rather than Sept. 1 was that they have a lot of left-handed starters ahead? Well, this is one of those days. And David Price is probably the best of the lefties they’re going to face.

Thus, Magglio Ordonez, Ryan Raburn and Brandon Inge are in. Brennan Boesch, Ramon Santiago and Wilson Betemit are off. Jhonny Peralta is 0-for-9 off Price, as is Miguel Cabrera. Victor Martinez is back at DH after missing last night’s game with back spasms.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Magglio Ordonez, RF
  3. Delmon Young, LF
  4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  5. Victor Martinez, DH
  6. Alex Avila, C
  7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  8. Ryan Raburn, 2B
  9. Brandon Inge, 3B

P: Brad Penny

RAYS

  1. Desmond Jennings, CF
  2. Johnny Damon, DH
  3. Evan Longoria, 3B
  4. Ben Zobrist, RF
  5. Matt Joyce, LF
  6. Casey Kotchman, 1B
  7. Sean Rodriguez, 2B
  8. Kelly Shoppach, C
  9. Reid Brignac, SS

P: David Price

Martinez scratched with lower back spasms

Victor Martinez had managed to stay in the Tigers lineup for two weeks after spraining his left knee in Kansas City. But on Monday, it was a bout of lower back spasms that knocked him out. He was a late scratch from Detroit’s batting order.

Martinez was slated to bat in his usual spot behind Miguel Cabrera. Without him, Alex Avila moved up to the fifth spot in the order for just the second time this season. Cabrera took the DH spot, while Don Kelly was inserted into the lineup at first base, batting eighth.

Martinez is batting .326 (15-for-46) with two home runs and six RBIs over the last two weeks. His absence tests the depth of a Tigers lineup that has spread out its damage in recent weeks up and down the order.

Monday: Tigers at Rays

Justin Verlander and Jeff Niemann went two picks apart in the 2004 draft. Now they get a matchup against each other.

Not many numbers for the Tigers against Rays starter Jeff Niemann, though Delmon Young is 4-for-10 off him. The bigger difference is the splits: Left-handed batters hit .257 with a .712 OPS off Niemann through his 16 starts so far this season, compared with .226  and .646 from the right side. Thus, you see Ramon Santiago and Wilson Betemit starting tonight.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Brennan Boesch, RF
  3. Delmon Young, LF
  4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  5. Victor Martinez, DH
  6. Alex Avila, C
  7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  8. Wilson Betemit, 3B
  9. Ramon Santiago, 2B

P: Justin Verlander

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