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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.

Monday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Brewers

  
Victor Martinez is back in the Tigers starting lineup tonight after getting the vast majority of the weekend series in St. Louis off. Yoenis Cespedes, however, is off for the first time this season, with Rajai Davis starting in his place. Other than that, it’s a regular lineup for the Tigers tonight after getting in late from St. Louis following the Sunday night game.

On the Brewers side, Carlos Gomez is in the lineup tonight after getting hit in the head by a Noah Syndergaard fastball Sunday in New York. Milwaukee needs all the help it can get; the team enters tonight batting just .195 against left-handed pitching heading into Lobstein Night. Only the Red Sox (.193) hit lefties for a lower average.

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

tigerslogoTIGERS

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

P: Kyle Lobstein

brewersmlogoBREWERS

  1. Carlos Gomez, CF
  2. Khris Davis, LF
  3. Ryan Braun, RF
  4. Aramis Ramirez, DH
  5. Jason Rogers, 1B
  6. Elian Herrera, 3B
  7. Luis Sardinas, SS
  8. Hector Gomez, 2B
  9. Martin Maldonado, C

P: Mike Fiers

Miguel Cabrera’s 400 homers by the numbers

The home-run log at baseball-reference is a tremendous resource when anyone comes up on a milestone home run. In the case of Miguel Cabrera’s 400 career home runs, it’s a treasure trove of trivia, statistics and trivial statistics. You know about the ratio of Tigers homers (262) to Marlins homers (138), but among the tidbits:

  • Cabrera has hit home runs off 278 different Major League pitchers. Bruce Chen and Phil Hughes top the list, having surrendered five each.
  • Just over half — and by that, I mean one home run more than half — of Cabrera’s 262 homers as a Tigers have come at Comerica Park. By contrast, less than half of Cabrera’s home runs as a Marlin — 65 of 138 — came at Dolphin Stadium. In all, Cabrera has hit more homers on the road (203) than at home (197).
  • The only other Major League park to host at least 15 of Cabrera’s home runs is Cleveland’s Progressive Field, which has seen 23.
  • Cabrera has homered in 37 different ballparks. One current park he has not homered out of is the new Marlins Park. In fairness, he had a groin tear in his only series there at the end of the 2013 regular season.
  • The Indians (38), Twins (35), White Sox (25) and Royals (22) top the list of Cabrera’s home run victims. The only National League team with at least 20 is Washington/Montreal with 21.
  • Though Cabrera has a well-earned reputation for opposite-field power, he still has pulled more of his home runs, according to baseball-reference — 166 to left, 87 to left-center, then 70 to right, 70 to center and 28 to right-center.
  • Cabrera has by far more home runs on the first pitch (91) than any other count. Next-closest is the 0-1 pitch with 52. The lowest? He has two home runs on 3-0 pitches. He also has more home runs on 0-2 pitches (19) than 2-0 (11), probably because so many pitchers choose to walk him when he gets to 2-0.

Sunday night lineups: Tigers at Cardinals

Under the lights at Busch Stadium tonight, Jason Heyward is back in the Cardinals lineup, leading off for the first time this season. Matt Adams gets his first start of the series, adding a left-handed power bat against Alfredo Simon. With a night game after a day game, the Tigers have their regular lineup for right-handers, including James McCann behind the plate and Jose Iglesias at shortstop. With the late-night travel after the game, it’ll be interesting to see if Monday’s opener against the Brewers sees some folks get some rest.

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

tigers1957logoTIGERS (career numbers off Lance Lynn)

  1. Anthony Gose, CF (1-for-2, triple)
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B (0-for-2, intentional walk)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (1-for-2, triple, walk, K)
  4. J.D. Martinez, RF (0-for-6, walk)
  5. Yoenis Cespedes, LF (2-for-3, triple)
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  7. James McCann, C
  8. Jose Iglesias, SS
  9. Alfredo Simon, P (0-for-2)

cardinalpitchinglogoCARDINALS

  1. Jason Heyward, RF (1-for-4, K)
  2. Matt Carpenter, 3B (2-for-8, double, 2 walks)
  3. Matt Holliday, LF (3-for-16, 4 walks, 3 K’s)
  4. Jhonny Peralta, SS (2-for-11, double, HR, walk, K)
  5. Matt Adams, 1B (3-for-7, 2 doubles, HR, walk)
  6. Yadier Molina, C (5-for-14, double, K)
  7. Kolten Wong, 2B (0-for-9, walk, 3 K’s)
  8. Peter Bourjos, CF (0-for-2)
  9. Lance Lynn, P (0-for-2, K)

Saturday’s lineups: Tigers at Cardinals

Left-hander Tyler Lyons draws the Tigers’ right-handed heavy lineup. Between injuries and no DH, all that means is Rajai Davis starting in center field over Anthony Gose. Right-handed batters are hitting .261 (75-for-287) with a .770 OPS against Lyons for his career, compared with .191 (18-for-94) with a .539 OPS from left-handed hitters. Davis, meanwhile, is 9-for-29 with two doubles, a triple and a home run off lefties this season.

The Cardinals get Randal Grichuk back from the disabled list and immediately put him atop the batting order against David Price. Peter Bourjos moves down to eighth, while Jason Heyward gets the day off against the left.

Reminder: First pitch is 2:15pm ET, an hour later than the usual day game thanks to the time change.

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

tigers1927logoTIGERS

  1. Rajai Davis, CF
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B (0-for-1, walk off Lyons)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  4. J.D. Martinez, RF
  5. Yoenis Cespedes, LF
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  7. James McCann, C
  8. Jose Iglesias, SS
  9. David Price, P

fredbirdlogoCARDINALS

  1. Randal Grichuk, RF
  2. Matt Carpenter, 3B
  3. Matt Holliday, LF
  4. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  5. Mark Reynolds, 1B
  6. Yadier Molina, C
  7. Kolten Wong, 2B
  8. Peter Bourjos, CF
  9. Tyler Lyons, P

Friday’s lineups: Tigers at Cardinals

Take out the DH slot, move everybody else up, insert the pitcher at the bottom, and it’s a pretty standard lineup for now. J.D. Martinez is back in the outfield after spending Thursday as the DH and taking it easy on his back.

The Cardinals have Mark Reynolds at first base over Matt Adams, giving Shane Greene one less left-handed hitter to face. Jhonny Peralta bats in the cleanup spot for the fifth time in seven games, while Jason Heyward bats eighth for the third time in five games.

tigerroarlogoTIGERS

  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. James McCann, C
  8. Jose Iglesias, SS
  9. Shane Greene, P

cardinalslogoCARDINALS

  1. Peter Bourjos, CF
  2. Matt Carpenter, 3B
  3. Matt Holliday, LF
  4. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  5. Mark Reynolds, 1B
  6. Kolten Wong, 2B
  7. Yadier Molina, C
  8. Jason Heyward, RF
  9. Carlos Martinez, P

Set points: Getaway day from the division

Miguel Cabrera is done trying to figure out the day game-night game split. All he can do is shake his head.

“The glasses,” he said with a laugh. “You see?”

He wore clear glasses Wednesday night to keep the wind and the pollen out of his eyes. He wears sunglasses during day games to keep the glare out. The glasses he wore Wednesday also keep glare from the lights out of his eyes, which have been affected by allergies for the past several days.

With Thursday’s two-homer game, he improved to a .471 hitter (32-for-68) with six doubles, eight home runs and 25 RBIs in day games. He’s batting .158 (9-for-57) with no homers and one RBI in night games.

He knows about the day-night split. He can’t figure it out. He’s done trying to.

So are many of his teammates. Because Cabrera isn’t the only one with those types of splits, though his are the most extreme.

The Tigers have baseball’s most prolific offense in daylight, including a Major League-best .317 average, .374 on-base percentage, .894 OPS, 23 home runs and 104 RBIs. They’ve scored 113 runs in 18 day games, an average of 6.28 runs per game. The Royals are averaging slightly higher at 6.36 (70 runs in 11 day games), but with a smaller sample size.

By night, the Tigers bat just .231, 12th in the American League. Their .626 OPS is last in the AL and next-to-last in the Majors. They’re averaging just 2.47 runs per game at night.

It’s like the opposite of a superhero. They put their cape on in broad daylight.

“I don’t know. There’s stats for everything,” Ian Kinsler said. “I don’t know what our record is this side of the Mississippi, but it’s probably pretty good.”

One time of day, they can’t get the big hit. Another time of day, Bryan Holaday is falling a triple shy of the cycle, and Anthony Gose has his first career four-hit game.

“You can say we were struggling if you want,” Kinsler said, “but at any point an offense can erupt. We understand how good we are and we just need to keep swinging the bat.”

What went right: Eventually, the offense got it turned around, though it struggled for the first two games. Nick Castellanos had a solid series throughout, going 5-for-10 with a couple walks and consistently good at-bats. The bullpen tossed 10 innings without giving up a run, including work from every Tigers reliever and back-to-back outings from Al Alburquerque. Anibal Sanchez got his pitches down again and thrived.

What went wrong: The offense struggled to take advantage of opportunities for the first two games of the series. Victor Martinez looked like he took a step backward batting left-handed, struggling enough to earn a day off Thursday ahead of three days out of the starting lineup in St. Louis.

Takeaway: The Tigers are going to have to win some low-scoring games on pitching and defense, no matter what people think of the offense. It’s just a question of how many. Their overall pitching against a combustible Twins lineup showed they’re good enough to have a chance to do that.

Snapshot moment: Jose Iglesias’ shovel-flip double play turned a first-inning Twins rally into an easy opening inning for Anibal Sanchez, who caught momentum from there. As Sanchez put it, it was probably the play of the game.

Pitching performance of the series: Sanchez’s eight innings looked like the front-line starter the Tigers need out of him, including nine strikeouts and some very good breaking balls that brought him back to his strikeout form.

Hitting performance of the series: As good as Cabrera’s two home runs were, Castellanos had a very good day Thursday with an opposite-field home run, a line drive leadoff single, and a 10-pitch walk out of an 0-2 hole that might be one of the better at-bats from a Tiger this season.

Thursday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Twins


For the first time since April 17, Victor Martinez is out of the Tigers starting lineup. It’s interesting timing ahead of three more days out of the lineup in St. Louis, where the Tigers won’t have a DH slot, but Brad Ausmus indicated that a fourth day wouldn’t hurt. There’s a potential matchup advantage, since Twins starter Mike Pelfrey is allowing a .194 average (14-for-72) this year to left-handed hitters, but Ausmus indicated that did not make his decision.

With the elder Martinez off — though he’s available to pinch-hit — J.D. Martinez gets a day to take it easy on his back at DH after leaving Wednesday’s game with lower back tightness. Martinez indicated this morning that he might have tweaked it on his second base hit, and he felt it tighten up as he ran out to right field the next inning.

With V-Mart out and Rajai Davis in, the Tigers will have eight right-handed hitters against Pelfrey, who has strong reverse splits going this season and slight reverse splits for his career. The only left-handed hitter for Detroit starting today is leadoff man Anthony Gose.

Reminder: Today’s game is on MLB Network for folks not in the Detroit or Minneapolis TV markets.

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

tigers1957logoTIGERS (career numbers off Pelfrey)

  1. Anthony Gose, CF (2-for-7, double, walk, 2 K’s)
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B (2-for-9, double, 2 K’s)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (5-for-23, 7 walks, 2 K’s)
  4. J.D. Martinez, DH (1-for-3, double, 2 K’s)
  5. Yoenis Cespedes, LF (4-for-8, 2 doubles, K)
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B (0-for-3)
  7. Rajai Davis, RF (1-for-5)
  8. Bryan Holaday, C
  9. Jose Iglesias, SS (2-for-4)

P: Anibal Sanchez

twinsoldtimelogoTWINS (career numbers off Sanchez)

  1. Brian Dozier, 2B (1-for-17, 2 walks, 4 K’s)
  2. Kurt Suzuki, C (3-for-6)
  3. Joe Mauer, DH (6-for-23, 2 walks, 4 K’s)
  4. Trevor Plouffe, 3B (3-for-18, HR, 2 walks, 4 K’s)
  5. Eduardo Escobar, LF (1-for-9, double, walk, 2 K’s)
  6. Kennys Vargas, 1B (0-for-2, walk, K)
  7. Eddie Rosario, RF
  8. Aaron Hicks, CF (0-for-8, walk, 3 K’s)
  9. Danny Santana, SS (5-for-11, 3 K’s)

P: Mike Pelfrey

Avila to undergo nonsurgical treatment program on left knee (updated)

After further evaluation, Alex Avila is not going to have surgery on his injured left knee. The Tigers catcher will undergo a treatment program with the goal of returning sooner.

The decision came after consultation with three doctors, two of which suggested he might not need surgery to repair what was initially diagnosed as a loose body in his knee. The last examination came Wednesday from Dr. Kyle Anderson, a former Tigers team physician and current Lions team physician.

“With further examination and an enhanced MRI, they’re not convinced that it’s a loose body, that it may not be loose,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “There’s something there, but they’re not convinced that it’s loose.”

A loose body in the knee typically requires arthroscopic surgery to remove, which carries a typical timetable of six weeks recovery time. If the body isn’t loose, however, then rehab and treatment could help.

“It wasn’t something that I was trying to find a doctor that was going to tell me not to have surgery,” Avila said. “It was kind of a collaborative thing to find out the best course of action on both. Basically the second MRI kind of made it look a little more clear and we were able to come up with this plan of action, to make sure it’s something that can get me back on the field as quick as possible but at the same time, with long-term in mind as well.”

There’s no timetable yet for a return, but Avila admitted he’s hoping for a quicker return than the aforementioned timetable for arthroscopic surgery.

“I would hope so,” Avila said. “I’m not sure just because everybody’s body heals differently. Basically, it’s going to go how the body feels, what it tells me.”

Avila has been sidelined since last weekend, originally by a bruised right forearm suffered on a foul tip. While he sat Friday, he had his knee checked out. The knee had been bothering him for the last few weeks, Avila said Saturday, becoming increasingly difficult to play through. It’s a knee that had tendinitis a few years ago, but nothing major enough to require surgery.

The 28-year-old is batting .200 (12-for-60) with a double, two home runs, eight RBIs, 13 walks and 21 strikeouts this season.

From a team standpoint, Avila’s left-handed bat in a predominantly right-handed lineup and his handling of the Tigers’ pitching staff makes him a major part of Detroit’s postseason hopes, though rookie James McCann has filled in capably. From an individual standpoint, Avila is a free agent next offseason, making his health critical for his future.

His decision, he said, is a balance of the two.

“The reason why I had doctors looking at it and took a few days, I wanted to make sure I exhausted all my options because I wanted to make sure I got back as soon as possible,” Avila said. “But at the same time, I’m thinking long-term and my career going forward. So that’s why I took a couple days, a few doctors saw it and all the doctors were in communication so it was kind of a collaborative effort. Anytime you have an injury and stuff like that –you know I don’t like talking about injuries –but one that’s going to keep me out as long as like this, it’s always going to be a tough decision.”

Wednesday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Twins

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

TIGERS (career numbers off Nolasco)

  1. Anthony Gose, CF (1-for-5, K)
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B (6-for-14, 3 doubles, K)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (3-for-10, double, walk, 5 K’s)
  4. Victor Martinez, DH (5-for-8, double, 3 walks)
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF (3-for-13, walk, 2 K’s)
  6. Yoenis Cespedes, LF (1-for-2, K)
  7. Nick Castellanos, 3B (2-for-7, double, HR, 2 K’s)
  8. James McCann, C
  9. Jose Iglesias, SS (2-for-2, double)

P: Kyle Lobstein

TWINS (career numbers off Lobstein)

  1. Brian Dozier, 2B (1-for-4, walk, K)
  2. Torii Hunter, RF
  3. Joe Mauer, 1B (1-for-4, 2 walks, K)
  4. Trevor Plouffe, 3B
  5. Kurt Suzuki, C
  6. Eddie Rosario, LF
  7. Eduardo Escobar, DH (3-for-5, double)
  8. Aaron Hicks, CF (0-for-2)
  9. Danny  Santana, SS (2-for-4, triple, walk, K)

P: Ricky Nolasco

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