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Thursday’s lineups: Tigers at Royals

James McCann gets his second consecutive start, this part as part of the standard lefty lineup with Danny Duffy on the mound.

The Royals shuffle their batting order with Alcides Escobar out after his hit-by-pitch from Danny Salazar. Alex Gordon returns to his old job as leadoff hitter, with folks at the bottom of the order moving up a spot. Christian Colon starts as shortstop, batting ninth.

tigerslogoTIGERS (career numbers against Duffy)

  1. Rajai Davis, CF (2-for-9, double, walk, K)
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B (3-for-12, HR, walk, 2 K’s)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (5-for-18, 3 doubles, 6 walks, 5 K’s)
  4. Victor Martinez, DH (3-for-15, double, 2 walks, K)
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF (1-for-6, HR, 4 K’s)
  6. Yoenis Cespedes, LF (0-for-2, walk, K)
  7. Nick Castellanos, 3B (1-for-8)
  8. James McCann, C
  9. Jose Iglesias, SS (0-for-1, K)

P: Alfredo Simon

royalschampionslogoROYALS (career numbers off Simon)

  1. Alex Gordon, LF (1-for-5, HR, K)
  2. Mike Moustakas, 3B (0-for-3)
  3. Lorenzo Cain, CF
  4. Eric Hosmer, 1B (2-for-4, 2 doubles)
  5. Kendrys Morales, DH
  6. Salvador Perez, C
  7. Omar Infante, 2B (1-for-1)
  8. Jarrod Dyson, RF
  9. Christian Colon, SS

P: Danny Duffy

Joe Nathan undergoes Tommy John surgery

Joe Nathan underwent Tommy John surgery and flexor repair on Wednesday. The closer confirmed the news via text message on Thursday, the first day of his rehab.

“Everything went very well,” Nathan texted.

Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press first reported that surgery took place.

Dr. Keith Meister performed the surgery in Texas. The surgery came exactly a week after Nathan left his rehab appearance at Triple-A Toledo with a severe elbow injury, later revealed to be tears of the ulnar collateral ligament and the flexor pronator. The surgery ended his 2015 season after four pitches, a one-out save on Opening Day against the Twins. At age 40, his career is also in serious question, but he said he will rehab with the intention of a comeback attempt.

“Already back in there doing some exercises,” Nathan said.

Given the procedures, he said he’s unlikely to pick up a ball for eight months, which puts the start of next season likely out of range for him.

Nathan remains on the 15-day disabled list for now until the Tigers need an extra spot on their 40-man roster, at which point they would move him to the 60-day DL. Some have asked on Twitter why the Tigers don’t simply release Nathan, but beyond not serving any benefit, it would actually cost them money to do so. For the Tigers to collect any insurance on Nathan’s contract, they would have to keep him on the roster the entire season.

Wednesday’s lineups: Tigers at Twins

Rajai Davis returns, while Alex Avila and Jose Iglesias get the day off after the night game.

TIGERS (career numbers off Hughes)

  1. Rajai Davis, CF (7-for-29, 4 doubles, walk, 5 K’s)
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B (6-for-26, 2 doubles, triple, 2 walks, 2 K’s)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (16-for-37, 4 doubles, 5 HR, 2 walks, 5 K’s)
  4. Victor Martinez, DH (7-for-30, 2 doubles, 4 K’s)
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF (1-for-3, HR, K)
  6. Yoenis Cespedes, LF (5-for-10, 2 doubles, triple, HR, walk, 2 K’s)
  7. Nick Castellanos, 3B (2-for-7, walk, 4 K’s)
  8. James McCann, C
  9. Andrew Romine, SS (0-for-6, 2 K’s)

P: Shane Greene

TWINS (career numbers off Greene)

  1. Danny Santana, SS (0-for-4, K)
  2. Brian Dozier, 2B (0-for-3, K)
  3. Joe Mauer, DH (0-for-2, walk)
  4. Trevor Plouffe, 3B (1-for-3, K)
  5. Oswaldo Arcia, RF
  6. Eduardo Escobar, LF (1-for-3)
  7. Kennys Vargas, 1B (1-for-3, double, K)
  8. Chris Herrmann, C
  9. Jordan Schafer, CF (0-for-3)

P: Phil Hughes

Gibson reactions: “I can’t see Gibson crawling into a corner over this”

As news spread of Kirk Gibson’s battle with Parkinson’s disease, reactions came in from across baseball. Most of it foretold of a heck of a fight coming from Gibson.

“I can’t see Kirk Gibson folding up shop and crawling into a corner over this,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said Tuesday. “I don’t think that’s in his DNA.”

Ausmus wasn’t a teammate of Gibson, missing him by a year in Detroit, but knows him well.

“Obviously you feel awful for Gibby and his family,” Ausmus said. “I’ve known Gibby for about 15 years, 16 years, and he’s always been great to me, a tremendous person. One of the fiercest competitors I’ve ever watched. I just feel awful for him and his family.”

Tigers play-by-play broadcaster Mario Impemba worked with Gibson in 2002, and again on Opening Day a few weeks ago. He has been looking forward to working with him again, only to hear this.

“It was shocking news,” Impemba said. “The major part of my experience with Kirk was working with him in 2002, my first year in Detroit. He was the color analyst and I think I learned quickly what Kirk is all about. He’s a tough guy, he’s a fighter, and he’s not afraid of challenges. I know this is not a good diagnosis but I think he’ll meet this thing head-on and we just hope for the best.”

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle played with Gibson in the minor leagues. He learned of Gibson’s diagnosis during his pregame session with reporters.

“I know Kirk from back playing minor league ball together. He’s always been up for a challenge,” Hurdle said. “You never want to see anybody have to meet this challenge. … I would imagine it’s good that the diagnosis is in place, because there are procedures and things that can be done along the course to try to maintain some balance and some quality of life. What a competitor. What a good man, a good man to have in the game, a good man to know. … I will reach out to him.”

The Tigers released a statement: “The Detroit Tigers family wishes the best for Kirk Gibson, and our thoughts are with Kirk and his family. We are all hopeful for Kirk’s return to the ballpark soon.”

More reaction:

 

Tuesday’s lineups: Tigers at Twins

The Tigers lineup returns to some normalcy with a right-hander on the mound. Anthony Gose was expected to start this one whether Rajai Davis was available or not. He leads off, Ian Kinsler returns to the two spot, and Jose Iglesias moves down to ninth.

The Twins give Brian Dozier (1-for-17 career against Anibal Sanchez) a night off and move Danny Santana to the leadoff spot. Eduardo Escobar starts at second.

tigerroarlogoTIGERS (career numbers against Mike Pelfrey)

  1. Anthony Gose, CF (1-for-4, double, walk, K)
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B (2-for-6, double, 2 K’s)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B (5-for-20, 7 walks, K)
  4. Victor Martinez, DH (5-for-17, double, walk, 2 K’s)
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF
  6. Yoenis Cespedes, LF (3-for-5, double)
  7. Alex Avila, C (3-for-10, 2 walks, 4 K’s)
  8. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  9. Jose Iglesias, SS (2-for-2)

P: Anibal Sanchez

twinsshakinghandslogoTWINS (career numbers against Sanchez)

  1. Danny Santana, SS (2-for-7, 2 K’s)
  2. Torii Hunter, RF (2-for-9, double, 3 K’s)
  3. Joe Mauer, 1B (6-for-20, 2 walks, 3 K’s)
  4. Trevor Plouffe, 3B (3-for-15, HR, 2 walks, 3 K’s)
  5. Eduardo Nunez, DH (2-for-5, double, triple, K)
  6. Eduardo Escobar, 2B (0-for-6, walk, 2 K’s)
  7. Oswaldo Arcia, LF (1-for-13, walk, 5 K’s)
  8. Kurt Suzuki, C (1-for-4)
  9. Jordan Schafer, CF (2-for-14, double, walk, 8 K’s)

P: Mike Pelfrey

Tigers to miss Ventura during series in KC

The pitching rotations are mostly out for the upcoming four-game series between the Tigers and Royals, and Yordano Ventura isn’t on the list. He’s scheduled to to start Wednesday at Cleveland.

The Tigers are keeping their rotation on turn, meaning Alfredo Simon Thursday night, Kyle Lobstein on Friday, David Price on Saturday, then Anibal Sanchez in Sunday’s finale. The Royals will start left-hander Danny Duffy on Thursday, have a TBA listed for Friday (probably right-hander Chris Young), then Edinson Volquez on Saturday and Jason Vargas on Sunday.

Ventura would still be on turn face the Tigers next weekend in Detroit, but that could depend on the appeal of his seven-game suspension. Volquez dropped his appeal Monday and is serving his suspension this week, which is why the Royals have a TBA listed for Friday.

Duffy has had an up-and-down April, pitching into the seventh inning once in four starts. He has battled high pitch counts. Volquez has been very good, but he has a rough history against the Tigers (1-2, 5.74 ERA, 9 walks, 12 K’s over 15 2/3 innings in 3 starts).

Kirk Gibson diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease

The absence of Kirk Gibson from recent Tigers broadcasts was noticeable, and now the reason is known. The former Tigers great has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, according to a statement released through Fox Sports Detroit, who hired him this spring as an analyst.

“I have faced many different obstacles in my life, and have always maintained a strong belief that no matter the circumstances, I could overcome those obstacles,” Gibson said in the statement. “While this diagnosis poses a new kind of challenge for me, I intend to stay true to my beliefs. With the support of my family and friends, I will meet this challenge with the same determination and unwavering intensity that I have displayed in all of my endeavors in life. I look forward to being back at the ballpark as soon as possible.”

Gibson, who will turn 58 years old next month, rejoined Fox Sports Detroit as a game analyst after five seasons managing the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was scheduled to work about 60 games on television alongside play-by-play man Mario Impemba, allowing him to follow his son Cam, an outfielder at Michigan State.

Gibson teamed with Impemba and Rod Allen in a three-man booth for Opening Day, but hadn’t been on the air since. He was believed to have been scheduled to work part of last week’s Tigers homestand, but was replaced by Allen in the booth. He was also absent when former teammate Lou Whitaker received the Detroit Tigers African American Legacy Award last weekend.

Gibson underwent a series of tests recently that revealed the disease, according to the statement. Parkinson’s is a degenerative neurological disorder that affects one in 100 people over age 60, but can be diagnosed in people as young as 18, according to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. Various estimates tab anywhere from 500,000 to a million people in the United States affected by the disease. Its impacts include shaking, stiffness and difficulty with balance and coordination.

Fox Sports Detroit announced that it will welcome Gibson back as his treatment permits.

Like many who have been affected by Parkinson’s, Gibson was a picture of health as a player. A two-sport standout at Michigan State, he was a first-round draft pick of the Tigers in 1978 and spent 12 of his 17 Major League seasons in Detroit. He hit 27 home runs for the 1984 world champion Tigers, and hit two home runs in Game 5 of the World Series, helping clinch what remains the Tigers’ last title.

Gibson went on to win National League MVP honors with the Dodgers in 1988, and came off the bench to hit one of the most memorable home runs in World Series history that fall, beating Dennis Eckersley.

Gibson finished with a .268 average, 255 home runs and 870 RBIs in 1635 career games. He rejoined the Tigers as a coach from 2003 to 2005 under teammate turned manager Alan Trammell.

Monday’s lineups: Tigers at Twins

As expected, Rajai Davis is out of the lineup following his groin injury Sunday. While his replacement (Anthony Gose) was obvious, the batting order was not. With lefty Tommy Milone on the mound for Minnesota, Brad Ausmus shuffled, bumping Ian Kinsler up to leadoff (where he started for much of last summer) and moving Jose Iglesias to the second spot. Gose, who has a couple hits off Milone in his history, bats ninth.

Alex Avila gets his second start against a lefty in three days. Slumping Nick Castellanos (0-for-11, seven strikeouts since his home run Friday) gets a night off to regroup, with Hernan Perez starting his place.

TIGERS (career numbers off Tommy Milone)

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B (5-for-16, HR, 3 K’s)
  2. Jose Iglesias, SS (0-for-2, K)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (7-for-16, 3 doubles, 2 walks, 2 K’s)
  4. Victor Martinez, DH (4-for-8)
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF (4-for-14, double, HR)
  6. Yoenis Cespedes, LF
  7. Alex Avila, C (0-for-2)
  8. Hernan Perez, 3B (0-for-1, K)
  9. Anthony Gose, CF (2-for-2, double)

P: David Price

TWINS (career numbers off Price)

  1. Brian Dozier, 2B (5-for-22, double, 2 HR, walk, 3 K’s)
  2. Torii Hunter, RF (8-for-26, double, HR, 2 walks, 6 K’s)
  3. Joe Mauer, 1B (5-for-27, double, 4 walks, 7 K’s)
  4. Trevor Plouffe, 3B (6-for-15, double, walk, 3 K’s)
  5. Eduardo Nunez, DH (9-for-34, 2 doubles, HR, 3 walks, 3 K’s)
  6. Kurt Suzuki, C (6-for-26, 3 doubles, HR, 10 K’s)
  7. Shane Robinson, LF
  8. Jordan Schafer, CF (1-for-5)
  9. Danny Santana, SS (3-for-16, double, triple, 8 K’s)

P: Tommy Milone

Volquez serves suspension, Royals shuffle rotation

The fallout from last week’s Royals-White Sox fracas began having an impact Monday, when KC starter Edinson Volquez dropped his appeal of the five-game suspension he received for throwing a punch (that missed) at Jeff Samardzija.

Volquez begins serving his suspension Monday. It pushes back his scheduled start against the Tigers by a day, from Friday to Saturday. However, it leaves the Royals needing a spot starter for Friday. According to MLB.com’s Royals reporter Jeffrey Flanagan, that could fall to Chris Young, whose 12 wins for the Mariners last year in his comeback campaign included two victories over the Tigers, both of them six-inning quality starts.

Yordano Ventura’s seven-game suspension remains on appeal, keeping him on track to face the Tigers next Sunday.

Set points: Tigers beat Indians again

At some point next month, the Tigers will hit the 40-game mark in the season. And at that point, the old Sparky Anderson adage will come into play, that you can’t do an evaluation of a team until 40 games in. A hot start can be a mirage based on matchups or a hot hitter. A cold spell can come from injuries, cold weather, or a tough early schedule.

This year’s Tigers ruled themselves out of the famed 35-5 start of Sparky’s 1984 team this week. In fact, their perception swung one direction and the other over the course of the homestand.

They arrived at Comerica Park as the hottest team in baseball, having won eight of their first nine. Then they built on that by taking two of three from the White Sox.

They went into this weekend as a vulnerable team, having lost three of four to a Yankees squad that had looked decidedly average over the first couple weeks of the season.

They then regained some of that momentum, not to mention the best record in the American League, by taking two out of three from the Indians, whom they had swept in Cleveland a couple weeks back.

They went 5-5 on the homestand, but went through some swings along the way.

“You can slice up streaks any way you want,” Brad Ausmus said. “It’s a little overblown. We weren’t going to go 9-1 every 10 games for the season. …

“I’m not overly concerned with those things right now. We have another game against the Minnesota Twins tomorrow. That’s where I’m focused on. What’s our record now? So we’ve won 13 out of our last 19. That’s how I look at it.”

They’ve played two series against the Indians, and two weeks from now they’ll have done the same against every other team in the division, including seven games against the Royals. That’ll be a measuring point in the eyes of Miguel Cabrera, who was looking at the upcoming road trip as a major test.

“It’s a good chance to see your division up close,” he said as he readied to hit the road Sunday. “We’re going to play Minnesota, Kansas City and Chicago. We already played Minnesota and Chicago. Let’s see how we play Kansas City. After we play all our division, we’ll see how we’re going to go in the season. We’ve got to play good in each of the three and try to make something happen like we did against Cleveland.”

The six games against the Indians were a collective statement about the reigning division champions and the team many have predicted as a viable competition to win the division this year, if not the entire league. Aside from Shane Greene’s start and Danny Salazar’s dominance Friday night, Detroit’s starting pitching outperformed a talented young Indians rotation, punctuated by Sunday’s win by Kyle Lobstein over Carlos Carrasco, who seems to pitch well against everybody but Detroit.

What went right: Aside from Shane Greene on Friday, Detroit’s back-end starting pitching dictated the course of the weekend, from Alfredo Simon holding Cleveland’s offense down to Kyle Lobstein delivering seven quality innings in just 86 pitches. Rajai Davis provided a spark for a struggling lineup, scoring three runs each Saturday and Sunday while running wild on Cleveland’s defense. Miguel Cabrera heated up again after a week or so of steady performance. And Tom Gorzelanny showed he can be a left-handed reliever to call on for left-handed hitters, getting a huge double play out of Brandon Moss on Saturday.

What went wrong:
Much in the same way that Cleveland and its left-handed hitters provided a regular reminder for Rick Porcello that he couldn’t make a living off of sinkers and fastballs, the Indians weren’t fazed by Shane Greene’s mix. He has the secondary pitches, but they weren’t good enough Friday. It was his first lesson on life as a sinkerballer in the American League Central. Nick Castellanos, meanwhile, fell into a miserable stretch after his opposite-field homer in his first at-bat of the series, and had some of his worst at-bats so far this season. Aside from Gorzelanny and closer Joakim Soria, the bullpen had a rough weekend, especially Al Alburquerque, who said Sunday he’s been dealing with a sinus infection that has affected him on the mound.

Takeaway: The coming days will tell how Rajai Davis is affected by his groin injury, but the past two days were a statement that Davis still has a major role to play on this team. When he’s on, the matchups don’t matter. When he’s on and he’s looking to run, the energy seeps down the lineup; even Cabrera was talking about the benefit of having guys who can run in front of them, because it means he can drive in runners just as easily with a single as a homer. Anthony Gose is the long-term center fielder, but Davis is an igniter.

Snapshot moment: After watching Miguel Cabrera haunt the Indians so many times this month, Carlos Carrasco seemingly had solved the conundrum of maneuvering through the middle of the Tigers order by striking out Cabrera with runners in scoring position. That allowed Carrasco to walk Victor Martinez and face a slumping J.D. Martinez, who promptly lined a two-run single into left field.

Turning point: Trevor Bauer got the food poisoning, but his resulting scratch left Terry Francona feeling queasy. With T.J. House being forced into a short-notice spot start against a Tigers lineup that had handled him two weeks earlier (and had Rajai Davis in it already), Saturday went from a favorable matchup for Cleveland into an opportunity for Detroit. The Tigers didn’t rock House, if only because he could go just three innings. They did enough to change the series.

Pitching performance of the series: While Alfredo Simon’s 6 2/3 innings Saturday constituted the stronger start, Kyle Lobstein needed an outing like Sunday, not so much for the three runs allowed as the seven innings over just 86 pitches. He avoided the early trouble that had bothered him his previous couple outings, including in Cleveland, and he saved a bullpen that had covered enough innings for the week.

Hitting performance of the series: Rajai Davis went 5-for-8 with six runs scored and three stolen bases, and showed that taking a base with Miguel Cabrera up isn’t always a disaster. “Him and Anthony [Gose] are huge for our offense,” Ian Kinsler said. “If they can get on base, and get going, it opens up a lot of other things, puts a lot of pressure on the other team. So hopefully Raj can get healthy soon.”

Bookmark the box score: Sunday’s game might be the day that Kyle Lobstein needed as a Major League pitcher. His next start will be another big test Friday at Kansas City, followed by a meeting with the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. If he can pitch well there, the Tigers can feel like Justin Verlander’s lingering triceps issue isn’t as massive of an obstacle for them.

 

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