May 16th, 2014

Friday’s lineups: Tigers at Red Sox (weather permitting)

Sprinkles have been coming down off and on at Fenway Park this afternoon, but the heavy stuff isn’t expected to arrive until later tonight. Once it does, it’s hard to see them playing through it. The key tonight is going to be getting five innings in before that.

Interesting decision by manager Brad Ausmus to start Alex Avila against the lefty Jon Lester. Since Avila hasn’t played since Tuesday, however, Ausmus said he wanted to get him in regardless of the opposing starter.

“It really didn’t matter who was going to pitch,” Ausmus said. “Alex had two days off. He was going to play.”

In Avila’s defense, he’s 4-for-10 with a double and three strikeouts off Lester for his career.

Torii Hunter, meanwhile, gets the start in right field. Don’t expect him to go tumbling over the bullpen fence again — not in a regular season game, and not with more than 120 games remaining.

TIGERS (career numbers off Lester)

  1. Rajai Davis, LF (11-for-36, 2 doubles, 2 triples, HR, 3 walks, 10 K’s)
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B (6-for-26, 2 HR, 3 walks, 4 K’s)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (12-for-23, 2 doubles, HR, 7 walks, 2 K’s)
  4. Victor Martinez, DH (7-for-19, triple, HR, 3 walks)
  5. Torii Hunter, RF (13-for-36, 3 doubles, HR, 2 walks, 5 K’s)
  6. Austin Jackson, CF (7-for-19, double, walk, 3 K’s)
  7. Alex Avila, C (4-for-10, double, 3 K’s)
  8. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  9. Danny Worth, SS (2-for-4, walk, K)

P: Max Scherzer

RED SOX (career numbers vs. Scherzer)

  1. Dustin Pedroia, 2B (6-for-22, double, 2 HR, walk, 4 K’s)
  2. Grady Sizemore, RF (1-for-8, walk, 2 K’s)
  3. David Ortiz, DH (7-for-19, double, 3 HR, 5 walks, 4 K’s)
  4. Mike Napoli, 1B (1-for-16, walk, 7 K’s)
  5. Mike Carp, LF (2-for-11, walk,  7 K’s)
  6. Xander Bogaerts, SS (1-for-3, double, 2 walks)
  7. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
  8. Will Middlebrooks, 3B (1-for-8, 6 K’s)
  9. David Ross, C (1-for-4, double, K)

P: Jon Lester

Putkonen to have elbow examined by Dr. Andrews

Luke Putkonen’s rehab assignment has been recalled, but he isn’t rejoining the Tigers. His next destination is the office of Dr. James Andrews to have his right elbow examined.

The exam, the Tigers announced, is scheduled for next Wednesday, a month to the day after his initial examination from team doctors. Whether Putkonen joins the long list of Major League pitchers to undergo Tommy John surgery to rebuild the ulnar colateral ligament in his right elbow should be clear immediately after that.

Putkonen underwent an MRI exam April 21 in Detroit. The results supposedly showed no structural damage, just inflammation. He spent the next couple weeks taking anti-inflammatories and rehabbing. He began his rehab assignment 10 days ago at Class A West Michigan before making two appearances for Triple-A Toledo.

It’s the last rehab appearance Wednesday against Syracuse that had people concerned. He pitched two innings, but gave up three singles and a grand slam in one of them, and Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish voiced some concern afterwards.

“I didn’t think he had the pop on his fastball, the movement,” Parrish told The Blade’s John Wagner. “There were also some things we don’t want to talk about, but that we might be able to help him with.”

That first part now sounds very concerning. The second part suggested he could stay with the Hens on rehab for at least another outing, a thought that Tigers manager Brad Ausmus seemed to hint was being discussed Wednesday.

As the article linked above notes, Putkonen’s velocity was down in his limited work this season before he went on the DL, from an average fastball of 95+ mph when he’s healthy to just under 93 this year. He said last month he’d been dealing with discomfort for a while but had hoped his limited work would’ve alleviated that.

If Putkonen has Tommy John surgery, it would be his second. He had it 10 years ago while at the University of North Carolina, forcing him to redshirt as a freshman in 2005.

With Putkonen presumably shelved for a while, the current bullpen mix looks like it’ll remain intact. That makes the improved slider Justin Miller showed Tuesday night in Baltimore all the more important.