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Saturday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Astros

Twenty-five years after the Tigers traded Matt Nokes to the Yankees for Lance McCullers, they’ll face McCullers’ son today. The younger McCullers is making his second Major League start. He’ll face a lineup that includes Tyler Collins as the DH, moving Rajai Davis back to the bench for a day.

J.D. Martinez, meanwhile, assumes his daily place in the cleanup spot. As he said last night, the spot in the lineup makes no difference to him, even though he has heated up since moving up.

Reminder: Though today is a 4:08 p.m. ET start, it’s still a Fox Sports Detroit game, not Fox Sports 1.

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


  1. Anthony Gose, CF
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  4. J.D. Martinez, RF
  5. Yoenis Cespedes, LF
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  7. Tyler Collins, DH
  8. James McCann, C
  9. Jose Iglesias, SS

P: Kyle Lobstein


  1. Jose Altuve, 2B
  2. Jonathan Villar, 3B
  3. George Springer, RF
  4. Evan Gattis, DH
  5. Preston Tucker, LF
  6. Chris Carter, 1B
  7. Jason Castro, C
  8. Marwin Gonzalez, SS
  9. Jake Marisnick, CF

P: Lance McCullers

Friday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Astros

Collin McHugh is off to a good start for Houston this year, but he also has some reverse splits going – a .292 average and four home runs from right-handed hitters, compared with .232 and one homer from lefties in about the same number of at-bats. That partly explains Rajai Davis’ start as the designated hitter, his first start at DH since Sept. 12, 2013 as a Blue Jay against the Yankees.

“It wasn’t a huge deciding factor,” said Brad Ausmus, who noted McHugh’s career splits are fairly even. “It’s just Rajai needs to play at times.”

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


  1. Anthony Gose, CF
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  4. J.D. Martinez, RF
  5. Yoenis Cespedes, LF (1-for-3, K vs. McHugh)
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  7. Rajai Davis, DH
  8. James McCann, C
  9. Jose Iglesias, SS

P: Alfredo Simon

astrosanniversarylogoASTROS (career numbers off Simon)

  1. Jose Altuve, 2B (2-for-3, double, walk)
  2. Luis Valbuena, 3B (3-for-13, double, HR, 3 walks, 2 K’s)
  3. George Springer, RF
  4. Evan Gattis, DH (1-for-2, double, K)
  5. Preston Tucker, LF
  6. Colby Rasmus, CF (1-for-4, double, 2 K’s)
  7. Chris Carter, 1B (1-for-2, walk)
  8. Jason Castro, C (1-for-2)
  9. Marwin Gonzalez

P: Collin McHugh

Rondon hits 99 mph in first rehab outing (updated)

Tigers reliever Bruce Rondon hit 99 mph on the radar gun at Fifth Third Field Thursday night in the first outing of his rehab assignment for the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens. That in itself was a good sign, though the command has a little ways to catch up.

Rondon gave up a run on two hits in two-thirds of an inning in his first game action since suffering biceps tendinitis in the final week of Spring Training. His fastball generally sat at 97-98 mph on the stadium radar gun, including a 98 mph pitch he spotted for a called third strike for his first out, before topping out at 99 on his final hitter.

“He looked like he had good velocity,” Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish said. “He looked like he was healthy. As far as commandwise, he looked like he hadn’t been out there in a while.”

Rondon was scheduled to throw 20-25 pitches. He was lifted after 22 pitches, 14 for strikes.

“You look at him throw and the stuff is there,” Parrish said. “It’s a matter of locating.”

Rondon battled to keep his fastball down, though it had enough life to remind fans of the power arsenal he displayed in Detroit two seasons ago before Tommy John surgery shut him down last season. His first pitch came in at 96, but Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes – who began his own rehab assignment Thursday for Triple-A Buffalo – lined it into left field for a single in his fourth and final at-bat.

Rondon induced three swings and misses, two on offspeed pitches, another on a riding fastball. That pitch went to Brad Glenn, who turned on a hanging slider on the next pitch for an RBI double.

“He threw some really good ones tonight,” Parrish said.

As long as Rondon feels fine, he’s scheduled to throw another 20-25 pitches for the Mud Hens on Sunday night, then follow the Hens on the road in Louisville, Indianapolis and Columbus. He’s tentatively scheduled to throw back-to-back outings late next week, then pitch an extended outing of likely an inning-plus, for a total rehab assignment of around two weeks.

Rondon’s return would be a major boost for a Tigers bullpen that could use a power strikeout arm, even if he doesn’t necessarily assume a set role. Joba Chamberlain has handled the bulk of eighth-inning work since Joakim Soria took over at closer. Angel Nesbitt has assumed a bigger role while Al Alburquerque works back into a consistent form after early-season struggles.

“You look at his arm and you think what he’s capable of,” Parrish said. “Guys that have that kind of arm, if you can throw strikes, you’re pitching the eighth or ninth inning in the big leagues.”

That was Rondon’s career trajectory two years ago. The hope is to get him back on that path; his last Major League outing was in September 2013.

Thursday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Astros

A lot of people have asked why the Tigers are starting this series with a day game. It’s Space Day at Comerica Park, bringing school field trips out. Also, the Thursday day game has apparently become a regularity here. The only Thursday night game at Comerica Park this season happens Aug. 20, when the Texas Rangers arrive for a four-game series.

It’s a quick turnaround for the Astros, who flew up from Houston immediately after their win yesterday afternoon. It’s also quick for the Tigers, who do day games after night games plenty of times but also had to do their start-of-series meetings this morning.

“We just get up earlier,” Brad Ausmus said. “It’s like cramming for exams when you have two finals in one day.”

Jose Iglesias gets the day off after the night game. With Scott Feldman’s reverse splits so far this season, Rajai Davis also gets a start, landing Tyler Collins on the bench for the day and getting J.D. Martinez a game at designated hitter.

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

tigerslogoTIGERS (career numbers off Feldman)

  1. Anthony Gose, CF (1-for-3)
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B (1-for-6)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (9-for-18, 2 doubles, 2 HR, walk, 2 K’s)
  4. J.D. Martinez, DH (1-for-3)
  5. Yoenis Cespedes, LF
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B (1-for-3)
  7. Rajai Davis, RF (4-for-16, triple, 3 K’s)
  8. James McCann, C
  9. Andrew Romine, SS (1-for-1, walk)

P: David Price

astroslogoASTROS (career numbers off Price)

  1. Jose Altuve, 2B (3-for-11, 3 K’s)
  2. Luis Valbuena, 3B
  3. George Springer, RF (1-for-8, HR, 6 K’s)
  4. Evan Gattis, DH
  5. Chris Carter, 1B (2-for-14, double, 2 walks, 5 K’s)
  6. Colby Rasmus, LF (5-for-25, 2 walks, 6 K’s)
  7. Jonathan Villar, SS (1-for-6)
  8. Hank Conger, C
  9. Jake Marisnick, CF

P: Scott Feldman

Wednesday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Brewers

Though right-handed batters are hitting Kyle Lohse a bit harder this year with a .289 (28-for-97) average and .864 OPS compared with .218 (19-for-87) and .682 against lefties, Tyler Collins is back in the lineup at DH. Other than James McCann, it’s the same lineup. Likewise, not much change on the Brewers side, either, except for Elian Herrera at second base over Hector Gomez.

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


  1. Anthony Gose, CF
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B (3-for-7, double, HR, walk, 2 K’s)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (4-for-13, double, 2 HR, 2 walks, 2 K’s)
  4. J.D. Martinez, RF (1-for-7, walk, 2 K’s)
  5. Yoenis Cespedes, LF (2-for-3, 2 HR, K)
  6. Tyler Collins, DH
  7. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  8. James McCann, C
  9. Jose Iglesias, SS

P: Shane Greene


  1. Carlos Gomez, CF
  2. Gerardo Parra, RF
  3. Ryan Braun, DH
  4. Adam Lind, 1B (0-for-3, K vs. Greene)
  5. Aramis Ramirez, 3B
  6. Khris Davis, LF
  7. Luis Sardinas, SS
  8. Elian Herrera, 2B
  9. Martin Maldonado, C

P: Kyle Lohse

Game 40: Anibal Sanchez’s home runs by the numbers

Anibal Sanchez has given up three home runs before. He did it last month in Pittsburgh, in fact. He had never given up three homers in an inning.

On Tuesday, he gave up home runs to three consecutive batters, nine pitches apart.

“Today is one of those days when everything happens so fast, you don’t realize what happened,” he said afterwards.

The home-run trend this season, by contrast, has been long developing, though it seemed to be done until Tuesday. He gave up seven home runs in Spring Training, then five homers in a two-start span in mid-April. He then gave up only one home run over his previous five outings.

Now, here are the numbers he’s looking at:

  • His nine home runs allowed this season match his total from 2013, the year he won the American League ERA title. He’s also nearly halfway to his career-high of 20 homers allowed in 2011 and 2012.
  • His six home runs at Comerica Park have him on track to threaten the single-season record of 16, set by Jason Johnson in 2004 and matched by Armando Galarraga in 2008.
  • His two three-homer games are one off the Tigers season high in the Comerica Park era, last accomplished by Max Scherzer in 2011. Others to do it include Hideo Nomo in 2000, Dave Mlicki and Jose Lima in 2001, Nate Robertson in 2006, Mike Maroth in 2007 and Galarraga in 2008.

Brad Ausmus believes at least part of the problem is leaving pitches up when he’s out of the stretch. Still, five of the nine homers he has allowed have been solo shots.

“It’s been clearly something that is uncharacteristic for Sanchie,” Ausmus said. “The long ball wasn’t an issue last year, but this year has been a little bit of a different story. Now, we’ve also seen some outstanding starts from Sanchie, but when he doesn’t have his command down in the zone, his offspeed pitches especially, that’s when they hit him.”

His next start will further the challenge. The Astros lead the Majors in home runs with 57.

“Everything I need to fix, I will do,” Sanchez said. “Everything I need to make me strong for the next one, I’ll do. I’m not going to stop today, I’m not going to stop tomorrow, I’m going to continue working. I’ve got a lot of work to do. I know in the season, it’s early now, but whatever I have to do to go to the mound like I used to, I’ll do.”

Ausmus: Tigers met with V-Mart postgame for DL move

The decision to put Victor Martinez on the 15-day disabled list, Brad Ausmus said, came out of a postgame meeting Monday night that included Tigers brass, including owner Mike Ilitch. It also included Victor Martinez, who pleaded his case to avoid the DL.

The decision, however, had already been made.

“He was upset,” Ausmus said. “He wasn’t upset in an angry way; he was upset because he didn’t want to go on the DL. He’s got a warrior mentality, and he fully wanted to show he teammates that he could play through pain, but I think it finally came to the realization to him that it was more than just pain — it was an injury that had to be taken care of. …

“As emotional as it was, Victor, he’s a good person, so I think he understood it. He didn’t want to have to go on the disabled list, but I think deep down he understands why.”

When Ausmus got the managerial job a year and a half, he talked about the difficulty of cutting players and dashing players. This didn’t compare quite like that, but it wasn’t easy either.

“It was difficult. And it wasn’t a short conversation. We spoke for while. Sometimes you’ve got to. I’ve got kids, and sometimes you’ve got to give them bad news. Victor’s obviously not my kid, he’s much too old, but he’s a great person, and I care about him. It’s hard to give good people bad news, news they don’t want to hear.”

Asked if Ilitch had anything to say, Ausmus said, “I would keep any conversation with Mr. Ilitch to myself.”

Here’s what else we know coming out of Ausmus’ pregame session Tuesday:

  • Martinez aggravated the injury at the top of his left knee – not the meniscus area, but above it – against Kansas City at the start of the last homestand. He was coming off an encouraging series in Chicago before that. From that point on, his at-bats seemed to regress. “We kept seeing signs that he was getting better, and still being able to play,” Ausmus said. “By the end of the game last night, we just felt like we’ve slid too far backwards, and he needed to be off the field,” Ausmus said.
  • When Martinez had four days out of the lineup, he had a cortisone shot in his knee. Monday was the test to see if it made a difference. “Watch the video, he ran as well as he has run all year down that line,” Ausmus said. “It’s just when he hit the bag, it grabbed him just similarly to the way when he jumped out of the way of certain pitches. He’s probably no worse today than he’s been on any other day. It just looked bad after he hit the bag.”

Tuesday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Brewers

Just recalled Tyler Collins gets the first start in the post-VMart lineup against Brewers right-hander Jimmy Nelson, who’s allowing a .205 (18-for-88) average to right-handed hitters this season compared to .270 (17-for-63) against left-handed batters. Bryan Holaday, meanwhile, catches Anbal Sanchez again after his eight innings of one-run ball last Thursday against the Twins.

The Brewers, meanwhile, bring in Gerardo Parra, who had Sanchez’s numbers when Sanchez was in Miami.


  1. Anthony Gose, CF
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  4. J.D. Martinez, RF
  5. Yoenis Cespedes, LF
  6. Tyler Collins, DH
  7. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  8. Bryan Holaday, C
  9. Jose Iglesias, SS

P: Anibal Sanchez

swingingbrewerlogoBREWERS (career numbers off Anibal Sanchez)

  1. Carlos Gomez, CF (2-for-3)
  2. Gerardo Perra, RF (8-for-14, 2 doubles, 2 K’s)
  3. Ryan Braun, DH (3-for-7, walk, K)
  4. Adam Lind, 1B (0-for-3)
  5. Aramis Ramirez, 3B (2-for-9, 2 doubles, 2 K’s)
  6. Khris Davis, LF
  7. Luis Sardinas, SS
  8. Hector Gomez, 2B
  9. Martin Maldonado, C (0-for-2)

P: Jimmy Nelson

V-Mart to DL, Collins recalled from Toledo (updated)

The Tigers didn’t waste time with their other options regarding Victor Martinez. The team placed their All-Star designated hitter on the 15-day disabled list with left knee inflammation Tuesday afternoon and recalled outfielder Tyler Collins from Triple-A Toledo.

The move comes on the heels of a postgame meeting Monday night between manager Brad Ausmus, team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski and other top Tigers officials to discuss Martinez, who went 0-for-4 with no balls hit out of the infield Monday night after resting his left knee for the better part of four games. Martinez also seemed to tweak his knee when he took a hard step on first base trying to beat out an eighth-inning double play.

“From the looks of things, I think we’re going to have to at least talk about other options,” Ausmus said in his postgame press conference before the meeting. “But we’ll do that privately.”

The Tigers have operated for a month and a half under the belief that a DL stint would do little to improve Martinez’s left knee, which underwent surgery in February to trim part of the meniscus that had torn during offseason workouts. His continued struggles, however, forced them to reconsider, starting with last week’s four-day break from the starting lineup.

While Martinez said he felt a difference running on Monday, a sentiment echoed by Ausmus, the difference meant little with the bat. The switch-hitting Martinez fell to 12-for-85 batting left-handed with Monday’s performance, after which he reiterated that he doesn’t feel comfortable enough batting right-handed against right-handed pitchers.

That leaves Martinez likely facing a longer stint than the minimum 15 days, involving more rehab than rest. At this point, however, the Tigers couldn’t go on longer with the struggles. Last year’s AL MVP runner-up is batting .216 (24-for-111) with three doubles, a home run and 15 RBIs.

The Tigers have several left-handed hitters available at Toledo, but Collins has the most Major League experience. The left-handed hitter, who turns 25 on June 6, hit .248 (28-for-113) for the Mud Hens with six doubles, no home runs, nine RBIs 15 walks, 24 strikeouts and a .639 OPS. He’s 10-for-48 with five walks and 14 strikeouts in May. Collins has fared much better against right-handers, batting .316 (24-for-76) with all of six of his doubles, 14 walks, 13 strikeouts and an .825 OPS.

If the Tigers set up a platoon with Rajai Davis, those splits would play. Fellow Mud Hens outfielder Daniel Fields actually has stronger numbers off righties, batting .321 (25-for-78) with three doubles, two homers and a 1.032 OPS, but also has 28 strikeouts against righties to go with 20 walks.

Still, Collins is not guaranteed regular playing time. The Tigers have turned to Davis against right-handers frequently, including everyday play in stretches last season, and could do so again. Even so, Collins at least gives the Tigers an impact bat on the bench that they’ve frequently lacked.

Game 39: Next idea on Victor Martinez

Decision time might be coming on Victor Martinez. What the decision involves is another question.

“From the looks of things, I think we’re going to have to at least talk about other options,” Ausmus said of Martinez’s 0-for-4 performance in Monday’s 3-2 loss to the Brewers. But we’ll do that privately.”

Asked if the disabled list is a consideration, Ausmus said, “We’ll talk privately.”

The question at Ausmus’ postgame presser was pretty open, whether the manager had considered any other options on what to do with Martinez. His four days out of the lineup seemed to produce no different results with the bat than playing every day had over the past month-plus. Three groundouts and an infield pop-up dropped him to 12-for-84 batting left-handed, and dropped his spirits further.

“The year I came back in 2013 after missing the whole 2012, it took a lot of time,” Martinez said. “It took pretty much almost through the All-Star break. I don’t know. The only thing I can control, that I can do is just keep battling and keep working hard and see what happens.”

Martinez batted .221 in the first month that year, .235 in May and .240 in June. His splits didn’t turn until July, when he hit .390.

He had an entire season to rehab leading up to 2013. He had this year’s surgery in February. Asked if it feels worse now than it did in 2013, Martinez said yes.

Asked if he’s getting to the point where it’s difficult to tell if he’s helping or hurting his team, Martinez paused.

“I don’t know,” he said thoughtfully. “That’s a good question. Good question.”

He’s open to dropping in the batting order, open to most anything except batting right-handed against right-handed pitching. His answer on the latter remains consistent.

“I mean, obviously the numbers say whatever,” Martinez said. “It is what it is. Something that I’m never going to do and I have never done is just going out there and go righty on righty. …

“I have never done it. Honestly, I don’t know how I”m going to react when the pitcher throws the ball. I might get out of the way. I’ve never done it before.”

It could be that which puts the Tigers in a bind. There’s no sense trying to force him to bat right-handed against righties if he has no belief at all that he can. No player can work that way. At the same time, there’s no sense continuing to have him bat left-handed if he doesn’t feel it’s leading to progress.

“I’ve said this before: He started to turn the corner that last road trip — Kansas City, Chicago,” Ausmus said. “And then we came back home and he didn’t look as good, so we gave him three days in St. Louis, hoping that would help. Today, it didn’t look like he was hurt swinging, but he looked like he aggravated it when he was running. Quite frankly, he got down the line pretty good.”

At this point, the Tigers have a choice to make, whether there’s reason to believe the at-bats now will help him in July and August. If they won’t, they either need somebody to complement him from the left side and allow them to manage his at-bats for favorable situations, or they need to determine if a DL stint would make any difference at this point, and how long that might require.

Something, however, seems to be on the horizon.


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