August 3rd, 2012

Friday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Indians

How will the Tigers find playing time for both Andy Dirks, who was activated from the disabled list today, and Quintin Berry, you ask? This lineup shows how.

Jim Leyland cautioned he won’t be going strictly by the matchups when he fills out his lineup every day, but said it’s going to play a role. In tonight’s case, he said, he went with as many left-handed hitters as he could against Indians sidearming right-hander Justin Masterson.

On the Tribe side, Jason Kipnis is batting leadoff, with Shin-Shoo Choo moving back to the third spot. No Johnny Damon, who was designated for assignment today.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Quintin Berry, LF
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B
  5. Brennan Boesch, DH
  6. Andy Dirks, RF
  7. Alex Avila, C
  8. Ramon Santiago, SS
  9. Omar Infante, 2B

P: Anibal Sanchez

INDIANS

  1. Jason Kipnis, 2B
  2. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
  3. Shin-Soo Choo, RF
  4. Carlos Santana, C
  5. Michael Brantley, CF
  6. Jose Lopez, DH
  7. Casey Kotchman, 1B
  8. Jack Hannahan, 3B
  9. Ezequiel Carrera, LF

P: Justin Masterson

Dirks activated, Kelly designated

The question from a couple weeks ago on what the Tigers would do to make room for Andy Dirks on the 25-man roster has now been answered. Detroit activated Dirks from the disabled list this afternoon and designated utilityman Don Kelly’s contract for assignment.

The Tigers now have 10 days to either trade Kelly, release him or outright him to the minors. He would have to clear waivers in order to go back to the minors.

Kelly is one of the most versatile players in baseball today, having played literally every position at some point during his big league career. However, he wasn’t being used that way this season. His starts, for the most part, had been limited to the outfield, and even those starts had dwindled with Quintin Berry’s emergence. He had started exactly one game since July 1, and had basically become a late-inning defensive substitute for Brennan Boesch in right field.

That explains in part his .175 batting average on the year. With maybe one at-bat a game, he wasn’t getting many chances to see live pitching.

Add Dirks, a similarly strong defensive outfielder, into the mix, and Kelly’s role was in serious question.

Many will make the argument that Ryan Raburn should’ve gone instead, given his season-long struggles. The saving grace for Raburn was that he bats right-handed, and the Tigers don’t have many right-handed bats on the bench. This certainly doesn’t leave his spot safe if his struggles continue, but it at least salvages a role for him.

Friday’s lineup might well reflect how Dirks’ return affects the rest of the outfield. Dirks will start in right field, batting sixth behind Boesch, who is starting at designated hitter. Delmon Young is out of the lineup. Doubtful that Young will be benched against all right-handed pitchers, but given manager Jim Leyland’s comments about looking to change around the lineup a bit, Young’s everyday status looks to be in serious question.

Alburquerque headed to Hens

Not exactly breaking news, but it’s a mile post on the road back for Al Alburquerque to the Tigers bullpen. His minor-league rehab assignment has been moved from Class A Lakeland to Triple-A Toledo.

Alburquerque, working his way back from elbow surgery last December, gave up two runs on three hits in his first rehab appearance for the Flying Tigers, then tossed 2 2/3 scoreless innings on two hits in three outings after that. Nine of the 10 outs he recorded in Lakeland were strikeouts. Five of the six balls put in play against him went for base hits. He walked one batter.

Alburquerque has about 19 days left of possible rehab time before the Tigers have to make a decision on whether to activate him. Whether Detroit uses all of those days isn’t clear.

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