September 10th, 2013

Peralta to begin working out with Tigers

Jhonny Peralta is rejoining the Tigers to begin working out with the club, team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski announced Tuesday.

The move is the first step towards the Tigers deciding what to do with their former shortstop once he’s eligible to return from his 50-game suspension Sept. 26. No final decision has been made, Dombrowski cautioned, but the workouts will be part of the process in deciding whether he can fit in, on and off the field.

“There has been no decision made regarding Peralta’s return to the active roster,” the Tigers said in a statement. “It is an organizational decision to allow Jhonny to workout with the club in order to see if it will be in the best interest of the team to have him return at the end of his suspension.”

Peralta will join the Tigers at U.S. Cellular Field Wednesday afternoon prior to their series finale against the White Sox. He will address the team at his request, then take pregame batting practice.

By rule, Peralta is allowed to work out with the club on the field until the gates open at the ballpark. After that, he can remain in the clubhouse.

Peralta received a 50-game suspension Aug. 5 for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal. By electing not to appeal the suspension, Peralta allowed himself a chance to finish the discipline this season, before he hits the free agent market. He also allowed himself to be eligible for postseason play.

Peralta is eligible to rejoin the team for its final series of the regular season, a three-game set against the Marlins in Miami. Whether the Tigers welcome him back is a decision the club has to make.

In the statement, the Tigers said the decision to bring back Peralta for workouts was “in accordance with the protocols outlined by Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement.”

The one certainty about a potential Peralta return is that it will not be at his old spot. Dombrowski said he told Peralta he will not win back the everyday shortstop job, a role rookie Jose Iglesias took over after Peralta’s suspension.

If Peralta rejoins the roster, then, it will have to be in a utility role. With that in mind, Dombrowski said Peralta will work out at multiple infield positions.

At some point next week, Dombrowski said Peralta will begin playing Instructional League games at the Tigers’ Spring Training facility in Lakeland, Fla. With no minor-league affiliates still playing, it’s the closest the Tigers could come to sending out Peralta on a rehab assignment to get live game action.

Tigers 2014 schedule is out

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If you’re a Tigers fan living on the West Coast and missed out on seeing them back in April, then 2014 is the season for you.

If you’re a Tigers fan living in Michigan and have been looking for an excuse to take a vacation on the West Coast, 2014 is your year.

If you’re a student (or a teacher) with spring break in April and think California is a cool place to hang out, then you’re going to love next year’s schedule.

The 2014 schedule is out, and it pairs Detroit with the National League West for Interleague Play. On the home side, that means a World Series rematch with the Giants Sept. 5-7 at Comerica Park, and a two-game visit from the Dodgers July 8-9. On the road side, it means the Tigers will make three trips to the West Coast next season, compared to the one trip they made this season in April.

The Tigers open at home with three against the Royals, including Opening Day on March 31, and then three with the O’s. From there, they head west for two at Dodger Stadium April 8-9, followed by three in San Diego April 11-14.

Detroit has a 10-game homestand in April against the Indians, Angels and White Sox. By contrast, there are 11 home game scheduled for all of May. The Tigers will play 17 games on the road in a 20-game stretch, with four games against Texas on Memorial Day weekend as the only home games breaking up the stretch. They’ll hit the road from there for seven games out west — four in Oakland starting on Memorial Day, then three in Seattle.

The other trip west comes in late July with three games in Arizona July 21-23, followed by a four-game set against the Angels July 24-27.

The Tigers have a pair of two-game series with the Dodgers as mentioned. They’ll also renew their home-and-home set with the Pirates — August 11-12 in Pittsburgh, then August 13-14 in Detroit. Between the timing of the series, the meaning in the standings and the way this year’s matchups with the Buccos went (two 1-0 games in extra innings), it could be a very interesting series.

Detroit will play 16 of its final 22 at home, including the final 19 games against the AL Central. The schedule closes at Comerica Park with three against the White Sox Sept. 22-24, followed by four against the Twins Sept. 25-28.

Tigers recall Darin Downs from Toledo (or his house)

One of the mildly interesting decisions the Tigers made with their September call-ups was their choice to only recall one left-hander for their bullpen, that being Jose Alvarez. Though Detroit had Darin Downs on their 40-man roster after a strong closing stretch in Triple-A Toledo, plus Kenny Faulk finishing up a quietly impressive season as a do-everything lefty in the Hens pen, both were left to go home when the Mud Hens season ended a week ago.

That decision has now changed. The Tigers announced Tuesday they’re recalling Downs from Triple-A Toledo, bringing a fourth left-hander into their bullpen.

While it’s not unprecedented for the Tigers to add call-ups well after the minor-league season is over, it’s pretty rare, and it usually only happens when depth becomes an issue. The 2002 Tigers recalled Craig Monroe (who was at home and relaxing by then) and Andres Torres from Toledo on Sept. 19 that year, but they were replacing Bobby Higginson and Hiram Bocachica after they suffered season-ending injuries.

Downs put up a finishing stretch to warrant consideration as a September call-up, allowing one earned run on seven hits over 13 1/3 innings from Aug. 1 on. He had a weird split in Toledo, proving far stingier against right-handed hitters (.121 average) than lefties (.238), but the at-bat totals were limited. He didn’t allow a home run from either side.

Cabrera’s ejection and the warning rule

This is what home-plate umpire Chad Fairchild said after ejecting Miguel Cabrera on strike two with the bases loaded in the third inning on July 28:

“I warned him to stop, but after the second pitch, he began to argue balls and strikes again, and was removed from the game.”

This is what plate umpire and crew chief Brian Gorman said Monday after ejecting Cabrera with two strikes in the first inning:

“He kept arguing about the swing part of it. He was warned and he continued to argue. He was told to stop arguing and continued to argue and he was ejected for continuing the argument.”

The common thread is the warning, and the trigger to give the hook after the warning is issued. What exactly Cabrera said is up for debate.

When asked if Cabrera said anything in particular that escalated the situation, Gorman indicated he did not.

“He just continued to argue the call,” Gorman said, “and after being warned, you’re subject to ejection after doing that.”

Leyland seemed to indicate that Gorman told him Cabrera said a magic.

“The calls were correct,” Leyland said. “But Brian basically [said], Miguel said about three or four times, ‘That’s bull[crap].’ That really doesn’t, in my opinion, warrant an ejection. He wasn’t in his face. He wasn’t throwing his hands up. He wasn’t putting on a big show. I just felt it was a very unnecessary ejection.”

Cabrera seemed to indicate he didn’t say anything to draw an ejection. He definitely seemed to believe he hadn’t been given a warning.

“He don’t say anything to me,” Cabrera said. “I said something else and he threw me out. I think I didn’t say anything to [get him to] throw me out.”

White Sox catcher Josh Phegley didn’t seem to indicate he heard any magic words from Cabrera.

“No, not really,” he said. “I think there were some things said after the pitch was fouled off, the next pitch. But initially he was trying to explain that he didn’t think he went around. He was trying to get out of the way and that was it. It surprised me. …

“I didn’t know he said get out of here and threw him out. I thought he said that’s enough. But it probably helped us win the game.”

And that’s the tricky part about the warning situation: The move to eject Cabrera ended up playing a defining role in a game with playoff implications. To some, that’s on Cabrera. To some, that’s on Gorman.

When asked if that’s a difficult situation given the inning, or whether the rule is pretty clear, Gorman seemed to indicate this situation was no different than others.

“I think all situations are difficult,” Gorman said. “You just have to handle them as an umpire. It’s part of our job.”

Gorman applied the same rule to his ensuing argument with Leyland, who clearly believed that discretion should have been applied given the situation.

“Sometimes they’ll say they’ve had enough,” Leyland said. “But … in this case what I wish he would have done is, even if he takes off his mask and gets adamant, in my opinion, when you do something like that, you say, ‘Look, Miguel, I’m trying to keep you in this game. I don’t want to throw you out of this game, OK? I don’t want to throw you out. But that’s enough.’ And be emphatic about it. And then if he says something, throw him out. He said, ‘That’s enough.'”

Cabrera seemingly is wondering where that line is.

“To me, it’s like I’m shocked now,” Cabrera said. “I don’t know what to expect next time. I don’t know what I have to do next time. To me, to get thrown out two times this year, almost in the same position, in the middle of an at-bat, to me, I don’t know what happened. I don’t know what to expect.”

The result clearly wasn’t something Chris Sale expected.

“I even [said], ‘Thank you,'” Sale said, looking upward. “Not taking anything away from [Ramon] Santiago. He’s a heck of a player, too. The best hitter to ever walk the planet leaving after the first. It doesn’t get any easier after that. You still have to make pitches and stuff because they have a heck of a lineup up and down. Just try to stay on the gameplan and get through it.

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