June 7th, 2013

Injury updates: Jackson still taking BP, Dotel still throwing

Not much new to report on the Tigers’ rehab front. Austin Jackson took batting practice with the team again on Friday, but there was no discussion about an impending rehab assignment. I’m sure that’s frustrating for Tigers fans, but the team medical staff wants to be sure when he gets going again that he’s at minimal risk of re-injuring his left hamstring.

The choices are about to get tougher for the Tigers as far as where to send him, because all three nearby minor-league teams are going to be on the road for a good chunk of next week. The Toledo Mud Hens begin a nine-day road trip Saturday, so Jackson would be in Rochester or Syracuse with the team if he went on assignment with them next week. The Erie SeaWolves are home for the weekend, then take off for Portland (Maine) and New Hampshire. West Michigan is home through Monday, then will be in Midland for three games against the Great Lakes Loons.

As for Octavio Dotel (remember him?), he still has to progress to the point where he can begin a rehab assignment. He hasn’t thrown a mound session in a couple days, but is still pain-free and working out in Lakeland according to head athletic trainer Kevin Rand. Dotel has missed a month and a half now with right elbow inflammation.

Friday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Indians

Looks like Jim Leyland played some of the matchups today against Ubaldo Jimenez, starting Brayan Pena (5-for-7 against Jimenez) and not starting Omar Infante (3-for-16, three strikeouts).

Gameday | TV: FS Detroit, MLB.TV | Radio: 97.1 FM, AM 1270, Gameday Audio

TIGERS (career numbers off Jimenez)

  1. Andy Dirks, LF (5-for-27, 5 K’s)
  2. Torii Hunter, RF (4-for-15, walk, 2 K’s)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B (14-for-40, HR, 7 walks, 7 K’s)
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B (11-for-37, 6 walks, 7 K’s)
  5. Victor Martinez, DH (6-for-19, 2 HR, walk, 3 K’s)
  6. Jhonny Peralta, SS (8-for-25, HR, 4 walks, 3 K’s)
  7. Brayan Pena, C (5-for-7)
  8. Ramon Santiago, 2B (5-for-18, walk, 3 K’s)
  9. Avisail Garcia, CF

P: Justin Verlander

INDIANS (career numbers off Verlander)

  1. Michael Bourn, CF (3-for-8, walk, 5 K’s)
  2. Jason Kipnis, 2B (2-for-15, 4 walks, 7 K’s)
  3. Nick Swisher, 1B (12-for-62, 3 HR, 9 walks, 23 K’s)
  4. Michael Brantley, LF (13-for-29, 3 walks, 3 K’s)
  5. Carlos Santana, C (6-for-23, 3 HR, 4 walks, 5 K’s)
  6. Mark Reynolds, 3B (4-for-18, HR, 9 K’s)
  7. Jason Giambi, DH (4-for-20, 2 HR, 2 walks, 10 K’s)
  8. Mike Aviles, SS (4-for-16, 2 K’s)
  9. Drew Stubbs, RF

P: Ubaldo Jimenez

Tigers see top three picks as starters

The Tigers’ turn towards college pitchers with their first three selections in the First-Year Player Draft Thursday evening led to speculation that Detroit was looking to build up bullpen help, potentially fast-tracking one or more of them. The pick of Corey Knebel, who spent most of the last three seasons closing at the University of Texas, at 39th overall especially led to that speculation.

They’ve done it before. In 2008, Detroit’s top four picks were all relievers, from first-rounder Ryan Perry to Cody Satterwhite, Scott Green and Brett Jacobson.

This is not the case this year, Tigers VP of amateur scouting David Chadd said on Friday morning’s conference call.

“My guess is that they all three will start in [short-season Class A] Connecticut,” Chadd said, “as starters.”

The Tigers definitely see Knebel as a starter. Yes, he closed at Texas, and finished four shy of Huston Street’s career saves mark, but he worked as a starter briefly at the end of his sophomore season, and he has the foundation of secondary pitches with an overhand curveball, another breaking pitch that’s more of a slurve, and a changeup that Knebel says he hasn’t thrown in games because he didn’t need it in relief.

“I’ll definitely have four pitches,” Knebel told MLB.com in a phone conversation last night.

Knebel said he has been working with University of Texas pitching coach Skip Johnson since season’s end on using all his pitches and improving his stamina.

“I do feed off all the adrenaline as a closer. That’s really what got me going,” Knebel said. “When I became a starter, it was a lot different for me. It was hard to handle at the beginning in college, and I was more relaxed surprisingly.”