The first start at first base with Miguel Cabrera goes to former University of Alabama first baseman Alex Avila, who has played two games at first this year but has never started there in his Major League career. From there, Brad Ausmus said they’re going to play it by ear for now. Avila isn’t an everyday option regardless, especially with his own injury concerns coming off his left knee injury. Jefry Marte can play at first base, but has primarily been a third baseman in his pro career. Andrew Romine can play there, of course.
One player who is not an option there is Victor Martinez.
“I would be concerned about putting Victor at first and then losing him for an extended period of time,” Brad Ausmus said. “So Victor, in my mind, is not an option.”
For now, Ausmus is sticking with the intent of his reshuffled batting order, stacking his most proven hitters at the top. Victor and J.D. Martinez move up a spot with Cabrera out, with Avila batting fifth.
The Jays lineup includes former Twins third baseman turned journeyman utility player Danny Valencia, who’s 12-for-17 lifetime off David Price.
- Ian Kinsler, 2B (4-for-13, 2 HR, walk)
- Yoenis Cespedes, LF (4-for-19, double, triple, HR, 6 K’s)
- Victor Martinez, DH (3-for-13, double, 3 walks, 3 K’s)
- J.D. Martinez, RF (2-for-6, double, K)
- Alex Avila, 1B (4-for-12, double, walk, 3 K’s)
- Nick Castellanos, 3B (1-for-4, 2 walks, K)
- James McCann, C
- Josh Wilson, SS
- Anthony Gose, CF
P: David Price
- Jose Reyes, SS (2-for-12, 3 K’s)
- Josh Donaldson, 3B (2-for-6, 2 doubles, K)
- Jose Bautista, RF (15-for-47, 2 doubles, 5 HR, 6 walks, 10 K’s)
- Edwin Encarnacion, DH (8-for-36, 3 HR, 3 walks, 8 K’s)
- Danny Valencia, LF (12-for-17, 3 doubles, 4 walks, K)
- Russell Martin, C (4-for-19, 4 walks, 6 K’s)
- Chris Colabello, 1B (1-for-7, HR, 2 K’s)
- Kevin Pillar, CF
- Devon Travis, 2B
P: R.A. Dickey
For the first time in his career, Miguel Cabrera is headed to the disabled list. The American League’s hitting leader and two-time MVP went on the 15-day DL on Saturday morning with a left calf strain suffered on the basepaths in Friday night’s 8-6 victory over the Blue Jays.
An MRI taken on the calf revealed a Grade 3 calf strain, including tearing of muscle fibers, that is expected to keep Cabrera out for around six weeks. The Tigers were expecting to get additional opinion later Saturday, including from Dr. Robert Anderson, who performed the surgery on Cabrera’s left ankle and foot last fall.
“There’s some fibers tearing,” manager Brad Ausmus said, “but not to the point where he’ll need surgery or anything like that.”
In a career with plenty of accomplishments, it’s a first Cabrera would’ve rather avoided. But for a slugger who played through a torn groin in 2013 and a stress fracture in his left foot last year, the calf injury immediately looked like something he wouldn’t be able to play through.
Still, the diagnosis was close to a worst-case scenario for a team battling to stay in the American League Central and Wild Card races.
“Sometimes you find out more about a team when a player like Miggy goes down,” Ausmus said. “We’ll see what type of fight we have.”
A six-week absence would keep Cabrera out until mid-August. It also places the Tigers into a quandary leading into the July 31 Trade Deadline, deciding whether it would be worth acquiring help at first base, and deciding whether Cabrera’s situation affects their status as buyers or sellers.
For now, Ausmus said, the Tigers will play it by ear deciding on who plays at first base. Alex Avila started at first on Saturday.
For now, the Tigers have filled Cabrera’s roster spot with Triple-A Toledo third baseman Jefry Marte, having purchased his contract Saturday morning. The 24-year-old won International League Player of the Month honors for the Mud Hens after batting .317 (33-for-104) with eight doubles, eight homers and 25 RBIs in June.
For the season, Marte is batting .271 with 20 doubles, 13 homers, 55 RBIs and seven stolen bases. He has played almost exclusively at third base, but has 10 career games at first over his eight-year Minor League career.
So yeah, this is a little bit different.
“I’ve bounced different ideas around in my head and off our coaches,” Brad Ausmus said Friday afternoon. “I wouldn’t say it’s been weeks or anything. It’s been a few days. Ideally you want people on base in front of your run producers.
“When you set your lineup in Spring Training, you want people on base when your run producers come up. For whatever reason — even though when you look at it historically, the guys that we have there should have worked, but it’s not. So I’m not going to bury my head in the sand and wait. At some point, you have to do something to change the way the offense has been clicking. If you look at each guy’s numbers individually, they’re not bad. But for whatever reason they’re not translating. Is this is the answer? I don’t know. But to me, it’s worth a try to see if it’s the answer.”
The main idea, Ausmus said, was to get his five historically best hitters at the top. That led Ian Kinsler up to the leadoff spot for the second time this season (he also hit there April 27 at Minnesota against lefty Tommy Milone, a game Anthony Gose started in center over Rajai Davis).
It also led to Yoenis Cespedes moving up to the second spot.
“One upside to Cespy is he can really well,” Ausmus said. “Generally you want guys who can score from first on a double when you have Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez coming up. Cespy is a rare power hitter who can really run, not as rare now as it was 20 years ago.”
It also puts Cespedes in a position where he should see more strikes in front of Cabrera, though he wasn’t really hurting for strikes in front of J.D. Martinez either. J.D. Martinez, meanwhile, returns to the fifth spot.
The Blue Jays, meanwhile, put former Tiger Ezequiel Carrera and ex-Tigers prospect Devon Travis in the lineup at the bottom.
TIGERS (career numbers vs. Drew Hutchison)
- Ian Kinsler, 2B (1-for-7, double, 2 K’s)
- Yoenis Cespedes, LF (3-for-6, double, 2 K’s)
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B (0-for-3, 2 K’s)
- Victor Martinez, DH (2-for-3)
- J.D. Martinez, RF (0-for-3, 2 K’s)
- Alex Avila, C
- Nick Castellanos, 3B
- Anthony Gose, CF
- Jose Iglesias, SS
P: Anibal Sanchez
BLUE JAYS (career numbers off Sanchez)
- Jose Reyes, SS (9-for-34, double, 5 walks, 5 K’s)
- Josh Donaldson, 3B (6-for-19, 2 walks, 3 K’s)
- Jose Bautista, RF (2-for-10, 2 walks, 2 K’s)
- Edwin Encarnacion, DH (4-for-13, double, HR, walk, K)
- Dioner Navarro, C (2-for-5, K)
- Justin Smoak, 1B (0-for-9, 4 K’s)
- Kevin Pillar, CF
- Ezequiel Carrera, LF (3-for-8, 2 K’s)
- Devon Travis, 2B
P: Drew Hutchison
The Tigers are about to get a bullpen shakeup, beginning with converted starter Jeff Ferrell and continuing with Drew VerHagen. Whether it’s a matter of fresh arms for a taxed bullpen, or something longer-term, remains to be seen.
The Tigers are giving Ferrell his first shot at the big leagues, purchasing his contract from Triple-A Toledo. Credit John Wagner of the Toledo Blade with the first report. The Tigers have not officially announced the move, but multiple sources have confirmed, as did Ferrell to The Blade.
“I don’t know what to expect. I was pretty shocked. It hasn’t hit me yet [that I’m going up to #Tigers].” ~Ferrell (1 of 2)
— JWagnerBlade (@jwagnerblade) July 3, 2015
Also coming up is Drew VerHagen, the former starting prospect who converted to full-time relief pitcher a month ago. He got the call from Double-A Erie.
The corresponding moves aren’t yet known. Detroit has an open spot on the 40-man roster with Joe Nathan on the 60-day disabled list, and VerHagen is already on there from his spot start last summer. Still, somebody has to go off the 25-man roster, and the report that Melvin Mercedes is being promoted from Double-A Erie to take Ferrell’s spot in Toledo suggests it’s not simply a matter of optioning somebody else down.
The Tigers could decide to make a larger change with a veteran reliever such as Joba Chamberlain or Tom Gorzelanny. That should become clear by Friday afternoon. What’s clear now is that the Tigers are dipping deeper into their farm system for help, now including two guys who were starters on their way up the system before converting to relief this season.
From the time Ferrell became a full-time reliever, he became a very good one. Add in the fact that the Tigers desperately needed bullpen options, and he moved quickly. After missing most of April, he took over closer duties at Erie and dominated for a month and a half, saving 12 games while allowing five runs on 21 hits over 27 innings with four walks and 35 strikeouts.
Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski saw Ferrell convert a two-out save at Akron on June 20 during a tour of the farm system. A week later, Ferrell was in Toledo, earning the save in his Triple-A debut June 29. That ended up being his only appearance.
VerHagen’s conversion came a month ago after he opened the season on the disabled list. He had three struggling performances at Toledo before finding some success in Erie, allowing two runs on six hits over 6 2/3 innings with two walks and five strikeouts.
Rajai Davis gets a second consecutive start in center field with lefty Francisco Liriano on the mound. Bryan Holaday starts the day game after the night game behind the plate. The Pirates juggle their lineup, including a day for Andrew McCutchen at DH and a test for Starling Marte in center field at Comerica Park. Josh Harrison shifts to left, while Jordy Mercer moves up in the order.
Like a lot of Tigers Thursday matinees, this one is on MLB Network for viewers outside of Michigan and Northwest Ohio.
- Rajai Davis, CF (7-for-23, 3 doubles, HR, walk, 4 K’s)
- Ian Kinsler, 2B (3-for-20, 2 doubles, HR, 4 walks, 4 K’s)
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B (9-for-35, 3 doubles, 2 HR, 8 walks, 8 K’s)
- Victor Martinez, DH (13-for-28, 6 doubles, HR, 4 walks, 6 K’s)
- Yoenis Cespedes, LF (1-for-12, 2 K’s)
- J.D. Martinez, RF (2-for-5, HR, walk, 3 K’s)
- Nick Castellanos, 3B (2-for-5, K)
- Bryan Holaday, C
- Jose Iglesias, SS (1-for-1, walk)
P: Kyle Ryan
- Josh Harrison, LF
- Jordy Mercer, SS
- Andrew McCutchen, DH
- Starling Marte, CF
- Jung Ho Kang, 3B
- Francisco Cervelli, C
- Neil Walker, 2B
- Gregory Polanco, RF
- Sean Rodriguez, 1B
P: Francisco Liriano
As the trading month begins, it’s worth remembering that today also marks the 70th anniversary of the Tigers’ biggest midseason addition ever. On July 1, 1945, Hank Greenberg returned from World War II — just over two weeks after being officially discharged — and homered in his first game back to help beat the Philadelphia A’s at Briggs Stadium. After four years serving his country, Greenberg batted .311 with 13 homers, 60 RBIs and a .948 OPS in 78 games, and the Tigers went on to win the World Series.
As for tonight, Rajai Davis gets the matchup start in center against A.J. Burnett. His 6-for-13 career numbers include a 2-for-4 performance in Pittsburgh back in April.
- Rajai Davis, CF (6-for-13, 2 doubles, triple)
- Ian Kinsler, 2B (5-for-29, HR, walk, 7 K’s)
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B (6-for-28, 2 doubles, HR, walk, 4 K’s)
- Victor Martinez, DH (8-for-29, 2 doubles, 2 HR, 7 walks, 4 K’s)
- Yoenis Cespedes, LF (1-for-3, double, K)
- J.D. Martinez, RF (1-for-13, 3 K’s)
- Nick Castellanos, 3B (1-for-3, K)
- James McCann, C
- Jose Iglesias, SS (1-for-2, walk)
P: Alfredo Simon
- Josh Harrison, 3B (4-for-16, double, 3 K’s)
- Neil Walker, 2B (4-for-20, HR, 2 walks, 4 K’s)
- Andrew McCutchen, CF (6-for-22, HR, 5 walks, 5 K’s)
- Starling Marte, LF (6-for-23, double, walk, 3 K’s)
- Pedro Alvarez, DH (1-for-13, double, 3 walks, K)
- Francisco Cervelli, C (0-for-6, K)
- Gregory Polanco, RF (1-for-6, walk)
- Jordy Mercer, SS (3-for-17, HR, walk, 3 K’s)
- Sean Rodriguez, 1B (4-for-9, 2 doubles, K)
P: A.J. Burnett
Here’s the lineup the Tigers will send out to try to stop Gerrit Cole from becoming baseball’s first 12-game winner this season and a two-game winner against Detroit. Unlike Cole’s win over the Tigers in Pittsburgh back in April, the Tigers have the DH slot available, and a healthier Victor Martinez to fill it. Cole kept J.D. Martinez hitless in that game, but he’s on a tear now, with six home runs and 11 RBIs over his last six games.
- Anthony Gose, CF (0-for-3, 2 K’s)
- Ian Kinsler, 2B (0-for-6, 3 K’s)
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B (1-for-3, K)
- Victor Martinez, DH
- Yoenis Cespedes, LF (2-for-6)
- J.D. Martinez, RF (0-for-2, walk, K)
- Nick Castellanos, 3B (1-for-2)
- James McCann, C
- Jose Iglesias, SS (0-for-2)
P: Justin Verlander
- Gregory Polanco, RF (0-for-0, walk)
- Neil Walker, 2B (2-for-10, double, triple, 2 walks, 3 K’s)
- Andrew McCutchen, CF (2-for-13, 2 doubles, 2 walks, 3 K’s)
- Starling Marte, LF (1-for-1, triple)
- Jung-Ho Kang, 3B
- Pedro Alvarez, 1B (1-for-10, 6 K’s)
- Francisco Cervelli, DH (1-for-3, double)
- Jordy Mercer, SS (1-for-1)
- Chris Stewart, C (0-for-2, 2 K’s)
P: Gerrit Cole
TIGERS (career numbers off Jeff Samardzija)
- Anthony Gose, CF (4-for-12, 3 K’s)
- Ian Kinsler, 2B (4-for-12, double)
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B (2-for-10, double, walk, 3 K’s)
- Victor Martinez, DH (0-for-3)
- Yoenis Cespedes, LF (4-for-10, 2 HR, walk, 4 K’s)
- J.D. Martinez, RF (4-for-16, triple, HR, 3 K’s)
- Nick Castellanos, 3B (1-for-9, 4 K’s)
- James McCann, C (0-for-3)
- Jose Iglesias, SS (1-for-6, double, K)
P: David Price
WHITE SOX (career numbers against Price)
- Adam Eaton, CF (7-for-16, 3 K’s)
- Jose Abreu, DH (1-for-14, HR, 4 K’s)
- Avisail Garcia, RF (2-for-11, HR, 5 K’s)
- Melky Cabrera, LF (7-for-26, double, walk, 3 K’s)
- Adam LaRoche, 1B (2-for-12, walk, 2 K’s)
- Alexei Ramirez, SS (9-for-37, 3 doubles, 2 walks, 4 K’s)
- Gordon Beckham, 3B (3-for-29, 3 walks, 5 K’s)
- Geovany Soto, C (2-for-7, walk, 5 K’s)
- Emilio Bonifacio, 2B (2-for-10, double, 2 walks, 4 K’s)
P: Jeff Samardzija
TIGERS (career numbers off Jose Quintana)
- Rajai Davis, CF (12-for-35, 3 doubles, triple, HR, 2 walks, 6 K’s)
- Ian Kinsler, 2B (8-for-27, 2 doubles, walk, 5 K’s)
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B (9-for-27, 2 doubles, HR, 3 walks, 4 K’s)
- Victor Martinez, DH (12-for-24, 2 doubles, K)
- Yoenis Cespedes, LF (8-for-12, 2 doubles, 4 HR, walk)
- J.D. Martinez, RF (2-for-14, triple, 2 walks, 6 K’s)
- Nick Castellanos, 3B (4-for-17, walk, 5 K’s)
- Bryan Holaday, C (1-for-8, walk, K)
- Jose Iglesias, SS (3-for-8, double, 2 K’s)
P: Anibal Sanchez
WHITE SOX (career numbers vs. Sanchez)
- Adam Eaton, CF (1-for-5, walk, 2 K’s)
- Alexei Ramirez, SS (4-for-20, 2 doubles, walk, K)
- Jose Abreu, 1B (5-for-8, 2 doubles, HR, walk)
- Adam LaRoche, DH (10-for-38, double, HR, walk, 11 K’s)
- Melky Cabrera, LF (14-for-27, double, 3 K’s)
- Avisail Garcia, RF (2-for-8)
- Conor Gillaspie, 3B (5-for-19, double, triple, walk, 2 K’s)
- Tyler Flowers, C (2-for-5, double, 2 K’s)
- Carlos Sanchez, 2B
P: Jose Quintana
“Even Superman needs a day off,” Brad Ausmus said.
The noon start time was the primary factor, Ausmus said. The fact that Andrew Romine is on a relative tear made it a little bit easier, since Romine is the only guy who can fill in at first base now that Hernan Perez is a Milwaukee Brewer. Left unsaid was the foot and ankle and the wariness about that.
“It was just the timing. It’s a 12 o’clock game,” Ausmus said. “There’s not many pitchers I look at the stat sheet and go, ‘Well, Miggy doesn’t hit him.’ I think David Price is the one he doesn’t hit, and he’s on his team. You never want Miggy out of the lineup, but you have to have a little bit of vision.”
Ausmus would’ve considered giving Cabrera a day at DH, but Victor Martinez can’t play first base at this point.
“I could DH Miggy, but then I can’t play Victor. And Victor’s already missed a month,” Ausmus said. “So at this point, if Miggy’s going to get a day off, it’s gotta be off.”
- Rajai Davis, CF (5-for-15, 2 doubles, 2 triples, 3 K’s)
- Ian Kinsler, 2B (7-for-22, 3 doubles, walk, 4 K’s)
- Victor Martinez, DH (6-for-18, 2 doubles, walk)
- Yoenis Cespedes, LF (3-for-6, walk, K)
- J.D. Martinez, RF (5-for-15, 2 doubles, HR, walk, 2 K’s)
- Nick Castellanos, 3B (3-for-11, 2 walks, 5 K’s)
- Andrew Romine, 1B (0-for-1)
- Bryan Holaday, C (0-for-1, walk)
- Jose Iglesias, SS (3-for-5, 2 K’s)
P: Buck Farmer
- Jason Kipnis, 2B
- Francisco Lindor, SS
- Michael Brantley, LF
- David Murphy, DH
- Carlos Santana, 1B
- Brandon Moss, RF
- Yan Gomes, C
- Michael Bourn, CF
- Giovanny Urshela, 3B
P: Carlos Carrasco