September 1st, 2012

Saturday’s lineups: Tigers vs. White Sox

As explained earlier, the Tigers brought back another right-handed hitting outfielder in Ryan Raburn. However, while Francisco Liriano marks the first of back-to-back left-handers the Tigers will be facing, Brennan Boesch is 5-for-11 off of him. Thus, Boesch gets the start.

(Update: Raburn is dealing with a sore quadriceps he injured scoring from second base earlier this week.)

Here’s the catch, though: Boesch is the designated hitter, batting second. Delmon Young is in left field. Miguel Cabrera, who seemed like a strong candidate to DH tonight, is at third base. Avisail Garcia will make his first Major League start in right field, batting eighth.

On the White Sox side, Adam Dunn has been scratched, reportedly with a right oblique he injured earlier in the week. Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports Dunn hopes to return to the lineup Sunday night.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Brennan Boesch, DH
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B
  5. Delmon Young, LF
  6. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  7. Alex Avila, C
  8. Avisail Garcia, RF
  9. Omar Infante, 2B

P: Max Scherzer

WHITE SOX

  1. Dewayne Wise, CF
  2. Kevin Youkilis, 3B
  3. A.J. Pierzynski, C
  4. Paul Konerko, 1B
  5. Alex Rios, RF
  6. Dan Johnson, DH
  7. Dayan Viciedo, LF
  8. Alexei Ramirez, SS
  9. Gordon Beckham, 2B

P: Francisco Liriano

Worth, Raburn, Kelly, Holaday, Marte heading up

As first reported by John Wagner from the Toledo Blade and later announced by the team, the Tigers are adding utility players Danny Worth, Ryan Raburn and Don Kelly, reliever Luis Marte and catcher Bryan Holaday as September call-ups with rosters expanding.

Al Alburquerque will be called up on Sunday, the first day he’s eligible to be recalled from Toledo (he has to spend 10 days in the minors after being optioned last week). The Tigers announced that part on Friday.

Kelly, who was outrighted to Toledo last month, will take the 40-man roster spot of Jeff Baker, who was designated for assignment on Friday to create a 25-man roster spot for Avisail Garcia to be called up on Friday.

The 40-man roster spot is now full, and Nick Castellanos isn’t on it. So unless the Tigers designate somebody else, Castellanos, All-Star Futures Game MVP in July but a .193 hitter in August, is not getting called up.

Holaday and Worth were locks to come up, given manager Jim Leyland’s preference to add a third catcher and an extra infielder every September. Both were Tigers earlier this season, including five trips up and down for Worth.

Technically, Raburn isn’t a call-up. He’s being activated from the 15-day disabled list. He had been in Toledo on rehab assignment and batted 9-for-29 (.310) with three home runs and nine RBIs. The question now is whether he can translate that to the big leagues, something he hasn’t done in his previous stops this year other than a couple hot stretches.

Raburn said Wednesday that he hasn’t done anything different with his swing or his approach since going out on rehab; it’s more a matter of being healthy and seeing pitches better. His sprained right thumb also isn’t a problem.

By adding Raburn, Leyland gets the right-handed hitting outfielder he wanted to avoid having to hit a lefty against a left-handed pitcher. Whether that means Raburn will be hitting tonight against Francisco Liriano (he’s 5-for-20 with a home run and four strikeouts off him) or Chris Sale (2-for-8 with a homer) remains to be seen, but it wouldn’t be a surprise.

Kelly adds another versatile position player, though it remains to be seen how he’ll be used if Garcia is going to be a defensive replacement in the outfield. He batted .233 (17-for-73) in 20 games with the Hens.

Marte showed flashes of effectiveness at the deep end of the Tigers bullpen from the end of May through mid-July. The right-hander allowed seven runs on 16 hits over 17 1/3 innings, with seven walks and 14 strikeouts. Three rough outings — a bad setup appearance June 10 at Cincinnati, a two-homer 10th inning June 15 against the Rockies, and a four-walk performance July 2 against the Twins — accounted for the bulk of the damage.

If that’s the extent of the call-ups, then the Tigers will stick with three left-handers in their bullpen — Phil Coke, Darin Downs and Drew Smyly. Daniel Schlereth, who has spent the past four weeks on rehab assignment, the last week or two in Toledo, will not be back. While he’s pitching healthy, his velocity has not entirely returned after spending most of the summer working his way back from left shoulder tendinitis. Duane Below has been part of the rotation since joining Toledo in mid-August, but has nine walks in 11 innings over three starts.

Cabrera: “I take the heat. … What am I going to do?”

Jim Leyland was relatively quiet on the Miguel Cabrera situation before Friday’s game, other than to say he’s not totally healthy and that the right ankle that limited him to DH for a stretch last weekend is clearly still bothering him. He didn’t want to wade into the mire about Cabrera seemingly slowing up on his way to first base on Thursday’s game-ending double play.

After Friday’s game, the question came up again, and he jumped in. So did Cabrera.

“Exactly what happened was, that ball that he hit was real close to the bag,” Leyland said of the double play. “It was probably [looking like] a routine [play], because there were guys on first and second. That was his first reaction, when it was hit.  The foot’s hurting, then he realized what was going on and he tried to get after it.

“He wasn’t dogging it, contrary to what people want to make of it. I think it was so close to the bag, it looked like a simple boom-boom [play]. When you try to accelerate on something like that, it’s hard coming out of that box to accelerate. Watch him run right now. It’s hard. Even when he deked the guy, the center fielder [Friday], it wasn’t like he was burning up the basepaths. I defend him 100 percent in that situation.”

Cabrera didn’t offer a self-defense so much as he said it’s a criticism he’s going to have to take.

“Always, people are going to be saying negative things,” Cabrera said. “They say yesterday I’ve got to run hard to first, so that’s something I have to take to go out there and do what I can. I can’t control that. If people want to talk about that, say that, what am I going to do? You have to take it.”

He did, however, admit that his ankle is seriously bothering him.

“When you play hurt, people aren’t going to see that,” he said. “People are always going to talk negative things. If they say I’ve got to run hard to first base right there, I have to take it. Nobody tells me to go out there and play hurt.”

No, they don’t, but it’s going to be up to Leyland to take him out of the lineup, or off of the field, if he feels like Cabrera’s making the ankle worse by playing or if he’s becoming less and less productive. And after two errors on Friday, plus a few other instances where the ankle was clearly bothering him, Leyland said he was going to sleep on the idea whether he should put Cabrera in at DH on Saturday.

The Tigers face left-handed pitchers the next couple nights with Francisco Liriano and Chris Sale, so they could put Delmon Young in left field and only cost themselves a left-handed hitter. They’d still have to figure out what to do at third base, a spot that could go to Danny Worth if he’s a September call-up as expected.

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