June 29th, 2012

Friday’s lineups: Tigers at Rays

Jim Leyland had a decision to make on whether to play Quintin Berry against David Price — not only a lefty,  but a stingy one (25 strikeouts in 90 plate appearances from left-handed batters). In the end, Leyland opted to start Berry over Brennan Boesch (1-for-3, 2 strikeouts off Price) and Danny Worth (0-for-2 off Price). However, he moved down Berry to the ninth spot, putting Ramon Santiago (3-for-7 off Price) in the two spot.

Former Tiger Will Rhymes gets the start against ex-teammate Justin Verlander.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Ramon Santiago, 2B
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B
  5. Delmon Young, DH
  6. Ryan Raburn, RF
  7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  8. Gerald Laird, C
  9. Quintin Berry, LF

P: Justin Verlander

RAYS

  1. Desmond Jennings, LF
  2. Carlos Pena, 1B
  3. B.J. Upton, CF
  4. Luke Scott, DH
  5. Ben Zobrist, RF
  6. Brooks Conrad, 3B
  7. Jose Molina, C
  8. Elliot Johnson, SS
  9. Will Rhymes, 2B

P: David Price

Dirks not cleared for baseball activity yet

Andy Dirks will spend at least another week in a walking boot while receiving shock wave therapy on his strained right achilles. The Tigers outfielder, who hasn’t played since May 30, was examined by Tigers foot/ankle specialist Dr. Chris Zingas on Friday in Detroit.

“He’s not right. He’s not ready to start any baseball activities,” manager Jim Leyland said. “We were hoping for that. We didn’t get it.”

The examination, Tigers head athletic trainer Kevin Rand, showed improvement, but still some discomfort.

“He’s much improved,” Rand said, “but still has point tenderness there. So he’s going to continue to be in teh boot for another week and he’ll also receive shock wave therapy.”

The delay seemingly would push any timetable for a Dirks return past the All-Star break. While he was cleared to start running on a special treadmill, that’s about the extent of his physical activity. He’ll begin a more full-fledged running program once he’s cleared.

Is Miguel Cabrera motivated by hitting slumps?

Miguel Cabrera’s batting average stood at .316 on June 19, before he went hitless in three straight games against the Cardinals and Pirates. He has gone 8-for-16 over his last four games to bring his average back up to .312, including his four-hit, two-RBI game Thursday night at Tampa Bay.

Asked about the performance, Jim Leyland had an interesting reaction.

“I like it when he’s about 2-for-12 and somebody starts writing about it,” Leyland said after the game, “because that usually wakes him up a little bit.”

I’m sorry, what?

“I don’t know if it did or not,” Leyland said when asked further, “but it seems to work.”

For what it’s worth, Cabrera’s skid was 0-for-15 before he homered off Brad Lincoln on Saturday in Pittsburgh. It was the second time this season that Cabrera had that long of a hitless stretch.

When Cabrera went five straight games hitless in an 0-for-22 skid, he bounced out of it with a 12-for-28 stretch with two homers and four RBIs. That was the second-longest hitless stretch of his career.

Is that what’s driving him? Hard to tell. While he has talked a little bit about the team, his comments about his own hitting have been limited lately. He responded in spring training when it was suggested by many that he couldn’t play third base. Nobody has been suggesting he can’t hit, even during his deepest of funks.

It’s also worth mentioning that Cabrera hits well at Texas. He’s a .369 (75-for-203) career hitter in Texas with a 1.014 OPS. However, he’s just a .264 career hitter at Tampa Bay (55-for-208). Yet his ninth-inning homer Thursday was his 11th lifetime at Tropicana Field, two more than he has at The Ballpark at Arlington.

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