September 28th, 2012

Scherzer improving, not yet throwing

The good news for the Tigers on injured starter Max Scherzer was that he said his shoulder felt better on Friday than it did on Thursday.

“I do have more range than I did yesterday,” Scherzer said Friday afternoon from Target Field, “so it’s a step in the right direction.”

The bad news, or at least the non-news, for the Tigers is that it doesn’t make Scherzer’s return any clearer, either for the regular season or beyond. At this point, you could pretty much flip a coin on whether he’ll start Wednesday at Kansas City.

“If I had to handicap it, I’d say maybe 50-50 for Wednesday,” manager Jim Leyland said, “but I’m not counting on it.”

The deltoid soreness that scuttled any plans of starting him against the Twins Friday night, Scherzer said, “should subside fairly soon.” From there, however, there remains the process of getting his arm stretched out and pitching tested.

His final hurdle to pitching in a game will be a full bullpen session, in which he throws all of his pitches off a mound. Whether he can do that in the next three or four days is anything but clear.

“From a physical standpoint, I think I could be there,” Scherzer said, “but I have to be smart and not get caught up in that.”

Scherzer also said he can’t get caught up in the playoff race and try to push himself if he isn’t ready. Yet if the division title isn’t still in play, Scherzer probably isn’t going to be pitching Wednesday in Kansas City.

“If we’re in or out [of the postseason] by then, Scherzer will not pitch [Wednesday] under any circumstances,” Leyland said.

If Scherzer doesn’t start on Wednesday, Leyland said, Drew Smyly will get the assignment.

Friday’s lineup: Tigers at Twins

For what it’s worth, it’s the same lineup and batting order the Tigers used against Scott Diamond on Sunday.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, cf
  2. Omar Infante, 2b
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3b
  4. Prince Fielder, 1b
  5. Delmon Young, dh
  6. Jhonny Peralta, ss
  7. Andy Dirks, lf
  8. Avisail Garcia, rf
  9. Gerald Laird, c

P: Drew Smyly

TWINS

  1. Denard Span, cf
  2. Ben Revere, rf
  3. Joe Mauer, c
  4. Justin Morneau, 1b
  5. Ryan Doumit, dh
  6. Trevor Plouffe, 3b
  7. Matt Carson, lf
  8. Eduardo Escobar, 2b
  9. Pedro Florimon, ss

P: Scott Diamond

Cabrera’s Triple Crown chase at a glance — Sept. 27

If Miguel Cabrera’s going to pull off the first batting Triple Crown in 45 years, he’s going to have to do it with a tear on the road. His home schedule has ended with a .332 average, 28 home runs, 75 RBIs and a 1.094 OPS at Comerica Park, the home run total setting a single-season record.

Sounds like a tough task. The consolation for Cabrera, at least for this weekend, is that he’s statistically a better hitter at Target Field than he is at Comerica Park.

Cabrera, who sent out the Metrodome with a home run in the Tigers’ AL Central tiebreaker loss in 2009, has ruled the Twins’ new ballpark since it opened in 2010. He’s a .411 (37-for-90) hitter there with 10 doubles, five home runs, 23 RBIs and a 1.179 OPS. Two of those home runs have come this year.

He’s not half-bad at Kauffman Stadium, either, but nothing like here in Minnesota.

Here’s the latest look at where Cabrera stands in the Triple Crown categories:

Batting average: .326 (1st)

Cabrera’s 1-for-4 performance Thursday afternoon dropped his season average by a mere point. The Twins were off, so Joe Mauer’s average stayed at .323, making him Cabrera’s closest competitor at this point. He’ll open the weekend series against Tigers left-hander Drew Smyly, who has held him hitless in five at-bats this season. Mike Trout is down to .320.

Home runs: 42 (tied for 2nd) — Hamilton leads with 43

All of the top sluggers stayed the same on Thursday, leaving Cabrera tied with Toronto’s Edwin Encarnacion and one ahead of Adam Dunn. Cabrera has homered twice in six games at Target Field this season.

Runs batted in: 133 (1st)

No change here. The Royals held Cabrera without an RBI for the four-game series, but Hamilton has driven in two runs over his last seven games. Nobody else in the American League has driven in more than 110.

Up next: Cabrera had an RBI double in four at-bats against Scott Diamond last Sunday at Comerica Park. They get a rematch Friday night at Target Field.

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