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Saturday’s lineups: Tigers at Astros

After much prodding from player and coaches, Brad Ausmus makes the call to start Victor Martinez at first base, freeing up the DH spot for Miguel Cabrera for a night.

“I’ve had a couple coaches trying to convince me for a while. In Kansas City, Matt [Martin] and Omar [Vizquel] did some stuff with him at first base. I talked to Victor and he was gung ho, so I relented.”

In terms of batting order, Jose Iglesias moves up to the second spot against right-hander Collin McHugh, right in front of Cabrera. Ian Kinsler bumps up a spot to leadoff.

The Astros, meanwhile, get Colby Rasmus back into the lineup after he was scratched Friday with a sore left knee.

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

tigerslogoTIGERS (numbers off McHugh)

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B (0-for-4)
  2. Jose Iglesias, SS (1-for-3)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, DH (1-for-2, double, walk, K)
  4. Victor Martinez, 1B
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF (2-for-2, HR)
  6. Tyler Collins, LF
  7. Nick Castellanos, 3B (1-for-3)
  8. James McCann, C (1-for-3)
  9. Anthony Gose, CF (2-for-4, double)

P: Justin Verlander

astros2005logoASTROS (career numbers vs. Verlander)

  1. Jose Altuve, 2B (2-for-3, double)
  2. Preston Tucker, LF
  3. Carlos Correa, SS
  4. Jed Lowrie, 3B (2-for-17, double, walk, 5 K’s)
  5. Carlos Gomez, CF (1-for-11, double, 3 K’s)
  6. Colby Rasmus, RF (2-for-8, double, 2 walks, 2 K’s)
  7. Evan Gattis, DH
  8. Luis Valbuena, 1B (2-for-19, HR, 5 walks, 5 K’s)
  9. Jason Castro, C (0-for-5, walk, 2 K’s)

P: Collin McHugh

Friday’s lineups: Tigers (now with Cabrera) at Astros

Miguel Cabrera is back in his customary third spot in the Tigers batting order. Ian Kinsler bumps down to second and Jose Iglesias moves back to the bottom of the order, but don’t expect that to be a daily occurrence. Iglesias will bat second most games against right-handers, according to Brad Ausmus, with Ian Kinsler leading off. With lefty Dallas Keuchel on the mound for Houston, that’s not the case.

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

tigerhitterlogoTIGERS (career numbers off Dallas Keuchel)

  1. Rajai Davis, LF (0-for-7)
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B (6-for-19, HR, 2 walks, 2 K’s)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (1-for-7, 2 walks, K)
  4. Victor Martinez, DH (3-for-6, HR, K)
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF (0-for-3, 2 K’s)
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B (1-for-3, double)
  7. James McCann, C
  8. Jose Iglesias, SS
  9. Anthony Gose, CF

P: Alfredo Simon

astrosanniversarylogoASTROS (career numbers against Simon)

  1. Jose Altuve, 2B (2-for-6, double, walk)
  2. Preston Tucker, RF (0-for-3)
  3. Carlos Correa, SS
  4. Jed Lowrie, 3B (1-for-3)
  5. Carlos Gomez, CF (3-for-10, 2 doubles, K)
  6. Evan Gattis, LF (1-for-4, double, walk, K)
  7. Luis Valbuena, DH (3-for-16, double, HR, 3 walks, 2 K’s)
  8. Marwin Gonzalez, 1B (0-for-2)
  9. Jason Castro, C (3-for-5, double)

P: Dallas Keuchel

On Brad Ausmus, Ian Kinsler and expectations

The Astros held off on celebrating the 10th anniversary of their 2005 World Series team until this weekend, with Tigers manager Brad Ausmus in town. The longtime Astros catcher was one of the most popular players on the team, and he’ll be honored on the field with old teammates Craig Biggio, Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt, among others.

“It’ll be nice to see them,” Ausmus said, “but for some reason I think I’ll be more focused on winning the game.”

Nobody’s likely to hold that against him. His spot in Astros history is secure. His role in the Tigers’ future is to be determined. It’s the biggest question left in Detroit’s organizational shuffling.

Dave Dombrowski, who hired Ausmus two years ago, is gone. Al Avila, Dombrowski’s longtime top assistant, is in charge. Avila’s circle assistants, most of whom have been here for years, are now secured. Aside from scouts, Ausmus and his staff are the top figures yet to have their long-term status decided.

It’s not exactly limbo, with Ausmus under contract through next season. Still, a year is nothing for a team if it wants to make a change.

Before the Tigers left Kansas City for Houston Wednesday night, Ausmus went on MLB Network Radio for his regular afternoon spot and told Jim Bowden that he doesn’t hasn’t been told anything about his situation beyond what general manager Al Avila told reporters a week and a half ago. He’s the manager this year, and he’ll be evaluated at season end.

“I’m not worried about it,” Ausmus said Wednesday. “I mean, there’s really nothing I can do about it. I get along very well with Al, so I’m not concerned about that. There’s really nothing for me to worry about.

“What am I going to do? We still prepare every day, do the same things every series and try to win the game.”

They won Wednesday night with a rare late-inning comeback against the Royals, who hadn’t blown an eighth-inning lead since May 2014. It was a parting shot in a ballpark the Tigers owned last year but which has taken on an aura since the Royals run to the World Series last October.

Afterwards, players said the same: It’s not something they can think about as they try to make the most of what’s left of this season. Still, when asked about the uncertainty, Ian Kinsler defended his manager’s performance.

“To me, Brad’s done a great job,” Kinsler said. “He hasn’t been given a lot to work with this year. [Justin] Verlander was hurt out of the gate. We struggled with our bullpen. There are a lot of things that are out of his control. He’s done a great job in my eyes, but that’s the front office’s job.”

When that task arrives, the team will have to evaluate two things: What role does Ausmus play in the Tigers’ present situation, and how does he fit into their future?

Ausmus inherited a three-time division champion and added a fourth last year. Barring a miraculous rally, that run is about to end — Wednesday’s win at Kansas City, followed by another Royals loss to the Angels on Thursday, still left the Tigers 13 games behind the Royals, though 4 ½ games out of the Wild Card. The urgency to win for owner Mike Ilitch, however, remains.

Similarly, Kinsler has gone into September with something at stake every year since his 2009 season in Texas. Like Ausmus, Kinsler hoped they’d heat up in time to convince management to buy, not sell, at last month’s Trade Deadline. Since then, he has been among the most vocal that players need to keep battling through season’s end. If Ausmus ends up being judged at all on the Tigers’ home stretch, Kinsler might be one of his best assets.

At the same time, Kinsler said, managers get more criticism than often deserved when teams fall short.

“Not just him,” Kinsler said. “We obviously didn’t play up to our expectations, so yeah, he’s going to take a lot of grief. That’s just the nature of the job.

“Everyone can play Monday morning quarterback. When a move doesn’t work, they want to blame him. But the reality is, what are his options? But, at the same time, I think he’s done a fabulous job.”

With expectations so high in Detroit, Kinsler said, that criticism grows.

“It’s a tough job to do, especially coming in after Jim Leyland, coming into an organization that won three divisions in a row,” Kinsler said. “Having to manage a team in your first year managing, to win a division is pretty special. But that’s all taken for granted. It’s kind of tough.

“But at the same time, we’ve underachieved this year. I think everyone knows that, and everyone’s disappointed up to this point. Hopefully this organization can get back to what it’s used to.”

The Tigers are in the middle of a road that takes them to the Royals, Astros and Cubs, three young, developing teams that have surprised fans locally and nationally and suddenly risen to playoff contention in the last 12 months. They’ll visit the similarly resurgent Blue Jays later this month. It’s a glimpse of where the Tigers were a few years ago. Ironically, the Tigers now might be closer to that developing stage, even with goals to contend again in 2016.

Ausmus has placed more responsibility on rookie catcher James McCann to formulate game plans and handle a pitching staff with two rookie starters who weren’t in the system a month ago, let alone the Majors. He has played third baseman Nick Castellanos, shortstop Jose Iglesias and center fielder Anthony Gose through growing pains. Now, he’s entrusting save situations to Bruce Rondon, Detroit’s longtime closer of the future.

For the Tigers to win, they’ll have to develop.

“Yes, we’re probably trying to develop more of them than we were previously,” Ausmus said, “but it doesn’t change that we’re still trying to win. Whether I’m here next year or not, I still, today, want to try to make them better, for them. That doesn’t change anything.”

Asked how much he’d like to be judged on results, and how much on development, Ausmus stopped short of an answer.

“That’s their decision,” he said. “I’m not concerning myself with things that are out of my control.”

Wednesday’s lineups: Tigers at Royals

  
As expected, Jefry Marte gets a third consecutive start at first base against a right-handed pitcher. Considering he has four of the Tigers’ eight hits this series, it’s difficult to make a case against it.

I wrote about Marte’s situation last night and the decision the Tigers face with him once Miguel Cabrera comes back. It’s not a matter of finding a roster spot — the Tigers can cut down from eight relievers to seven without much danger thanks to off-days — but determining playing time is the things they have to do. If he’s going to sit, then it makes little sense to keep him. If he’s going to get some playing time at third and/or first base, then there’s a case for him.

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

tigers1957logoTIGERS (career numbers off Edinson Volquez)

  1. Anthony Gose, CF (2-for-3, double, K)
  2. Jose Iglesias, SS (0-for-4)
  3. Ian Kinsler, 2B (4-for-9, 2 K’s)
  4. Victor Martinez, DH (0-for-10, K)
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF (0-for-4, 2 walks)
  6. Tyler Collins, LF
  7. Nick Castellanos, 3B (0-for-2, walk)
  8. Jefry Marte, 1B
  9. James McCann, C

P: Daniel Norris

sluggerrrrROYALS

  1. Alcides Escobar, SS
  2. Ben Zobrist, LF
  3. Lorenzo Cain, CF
  4. Eric Hosmer, 1B
  5. Kendrys Morales, DH
  6. Mike Moustakas, 3B
  7. Alex Rios, RF
  8. Omar Infante, 2B
  9. Drew Butera, C

P: Edinson Volquez

Tuesday’s lineups: Tigers at Royals

Jefry Marte gets another start at first base, this time against right-hander Yordano Ventura. Nick Castellanos gets a break for a day, giving Andrew Romine a second consecutive start.

TIGERS (career numbers off Ventura)

  1. Anthony Gose, CF (3-for-5, walk, 2 K’s)
  2. Jose Iglesias, SS (1-for-3, K)
  3. Ian Kinsler, 2B (5-for-9, double)
  4. Victor Martinez, DH (4-for-8, 2 HR, walk, K)
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF (3-for-7, double, 2 walks, K)
  6. Tyler Collins, LF (1-for-3)
  7. James McCann, C (1-for-3, K)
  8. Jefry Marte, 1B
  9. Andrew Romine, 3B (1-for-4, walk, K)

P: Anibal Sanchez

ROYALS (career numbers against Sanchez)

  1. Alcides Escobar, SS (8-for-28, HR, 5 K’s)
  2. Ben Zobrist, 2B (3-for-22, 3 walks, 2 K’s)
  3. Lorenzo Cain, CF (4-for-23, K)
  4. Eric Hosmer, 1B (9-for-31, 3 doubles, walk, 2 K’s)
  5. Kendrys Morales, DH (5-for-15, 2 doubles, 2 walks, 4 K’s)
  6. Mike Moustakas, 3B (3-for-20, 2 doubles, 4 walks, 5 K’s)
  7. Salvador Perez, C (2-for-17, 2 walks, 2 K’s)
  8. Paulo Orlando, RF (1-for-3)
  9. Jarrod Dyson, LF (3-for-24, double, walk, 5 K’s)

P: Yordano Ventura

Dave Littlefield named Tigers VP of player development, other assistants staying

New Tigers general manager Al Avila will be keeping nearly all of the assistants from his predecessor, Dave Dombrowski. The second round of Tigers administrative moves, announced Tuesday, saw Avila change titles with some veteran advisors while promoting former Pirates general manager Dave Littlefield to vice president of player development.

Scott Reid, the longtime pro scouting head under Dombrowski, will stay on as a senior advisor to Avila. Dick Egan, a special assistant under Dombrowski, will stay on in the same role for Avila.

Also staying on are amateur scouting director Scott Pleis, minor league operations director Dan Lunetta, international operations director Tom Moore, Latin American scouting director Miguel Garcia and player development director Dave Owen. In Owen’s case, he’ll report to Littlefield, who will take charge of the Tigers farm system.

“We’ve identified the key personnel that we believe gives us the best complement of experience,” Avila said in a statement. “These gentlemen have a high level of expertise that is invaluable in today’s game of evaluating players.”

The Tigers hired Littlefield last fall as a Major League scout after he spent seven seasons scouting with the Cubs. He was a former assistant for Dombrowski with the Florida Marlins, working alongside Avila, before heading to Pittsburgh. Avila briefly joined him there before joining Dombrowski in Detroit in 2002.

Reid came to Detroit with Dombrowski after working for him with the Marlins. He served as vice president of player personnel for over a decade, running the pro scouting department, before Scott Bream shouldered most of the day-to-day administrative duties. Bream was named vice president of player personnel last week.

Egan, too, has a long history with Dombrowski and followed him to Detroit, having spent a decade with the Marlins scouting department. A veteran of 55 seasons in pro ball, he served the Tigers as a pro scout before taking on the special assistant title in 2007.

Monday’s lineups: Tigers at Royals

  
Looks like a night off for Jose Iglesias, who had played every inning of the Tigers’ last 18 games. He went 1-for-13 over the weekend against the Red Sox. Andrew Romine gets the start against Johnny Cueto, who has been particularly tough on lefties (.177 average, 70 strikeouts in 266 at-bats). That said, Tyler Collins had three decent at-bats against Cueto, and he’s back in the lineup in left. Alex Avila starts behind the plate.

TIGERS (numbers off Cueto)

  1. Anthony Gose, CF (2-for-7, triple, K)
  2. Tyler Collins, LF (1-for-3, double)
  3. Ian Kinsler, 2B (2-for-6, double, triple, walk)
  4. Victor Martinez, DH (0-for-9, walk, 2 K’s)
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF (1-for-7, walk)
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B (0-for-4, walk, K)
  7. Jefry Marte, 1B (0-for-1, walk)
  8. Alex Avila, C
  9. Andrew Romine, SS

P: Matt Boyd

ROYALS

  1. Alcides Escobar, SS
  2. Ben Zobrist, LF
  3. Lorenzo Cain, CF
  4. Eric Hosmer, 1B
  5. Kendrys Morales, DH
  6. Mike Moustakas, 3B
  7. Salvador Perez, C
  8. Alex Rios, RF
  9. Omar Infante, 2B

P: Johnny Cueto

Kyle Ryan called up, Ian Krol optioned

Ian Krol’s four-run, four-hit eighth inning Sunday led to a change in the Tigers bullpen. Kyle Ryan has been recalled from Triple-A Toledo, presumably to fill a relief sport, and Krol has been optioned back to the Mud Hens.

It’s the third time Krol has been optioned out this season after making the Opening Day roster. He seemingly had found his footing in July, but had struggled lately to finish off hitters, from a July 31 outing at Baltimore to yesterday. Tom Gorzelanny’s return Sunday wasn’t a good sign for Krol’s role.

Ryan made two starts since rejoining Toledo, most recently eight shutout innings on three hits with two walks and eight strikeouts last Thursday. He, too, has been bouncing back and forth this season, now up for the third time.

Sunday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Red Sox

The righty-heavy lineup (save for Anthony Gose) gets the call against big Red Sox lefty Henry Owens in his second Major League start.

On the Red Sox side, Pablo Sandoval gets the day off, denying him a final chance at Justin Verlander this season. He went 0-for-3 against Verlander in Boston last month in their first meeting since his memorable game in the 2012 World Series.

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

tigers1927logoTIGERS

  1. Rajai Davis, LF
  2. Jose Iglesias, SS
  3. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  4. Victor Martinez, DH
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  7. James McCann, C
  8. Jefry Marte, 1B
  9. Anthony Gose, CF

P: Justin Verlander

oldredsoxlogoRED SOX (career numbers vs. Verlander)

  1. Brock Holt, 3B (1-for-4)
  2. Rusney Castillo, RF
  3. Xander Bogaerts, SS (1-for-3, K)
  4. David Ortiz, DH (10-for-29, 4 doubles, 2 HR, 4 walks, 8 K’s)
  5. Travis Shaw, 1B
  6. Alejandro De Aza, LF (9-for-37, double, triple, 2 HR, 2 walks, 10 K’s)
  7. Blake Swihart, C
  8. Josh Rutledge, 2B (1-for-3, double)
  9. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF

P: Henry Owens

Saturday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Red Sox

Rajai Davis and Jefry Marte return to the lineup against Red Sox lefty Wade Miley, who’s allowing a .269 average and .785 OPS against right-handed batters (compared with .235 and .639 versus lefties). And yes, all of the players involved in last night’s dugout run-in are in the lineup.

Unless something drastically changes, Alfredo Simon is expected to make the start tonight, even if he’s at less than 100 percent strength with the groin injury. It’s worth following because Buck Farmer’s 2 2/3 innings of work Friday night leave the Tigers missing their designated long reliever. If Simon has a quick exit, the probable answer would be Blaine Hardy. New closer Alex Wilson’s availability as a long reliever is likely out for now.

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

tigerroarlogoTIGERS (career numbers off Miley)

  1. Rajai Davis, LF (1-for-2, HR, K)
  2. Jose Iglesias, SS
  3. Ian Kinsler, 2B (0-for-3)
  4. Victor Martinez, DH
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF (0-for-2, walk, 2 K’s)
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  7. James McCann, C
  8. Jefry Marte, 1B
  9. Anthony Gose, CF

P: Alfredo Simon

redsoxlogoRED SOX (career numbers against Simon)

  1. Brock Holt, 2B (1-for-4, double)
  2. Rusney Castillo, RF
  3. Xander Bogaerts, SS (0-for-3, 2 K’s)
  4. David Ortiz, DH (2-for-8, double, 4 walks, 2 K’s)
  5. Hanley Ramirez, LF (3-for-6)
  6. Pablo Sandoval, 3B (1-for-6, 3 walks, 2 K’s)
  7. Travis Shaw, 1B
  8. Blake Swihart, C (1-for-2, triple)
  9. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF

P: Wade Miley

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