Miguel Cabrera’s response to a USA Today story that quotes him saying he’s still being affected by his core muscle surgery was short and sweet.
“I’m good,” said Cabrera, who then headed off for other business before batting practice Tuesday afternoon.
The question came about after Cabrera told Jorge Ortiz during Monday’s media day session that the surgery recovery has been tough and isn’t complete. From the article:
“There are times when I feel good, but there are always muscles that are tightening, muscles that are not functioning properly,” Cabrera said in Spanish. “It’s part of the process. The same thing is happening to Justin Verlander, but the difference is he pitches every five days, so you don’t see it as frequently.
“But as he and I talked about, we’re never going to offer any excuses for our performance. We always want to be out on the field and compete, and I think that’s the most important thing we can do, compete and try to get past this tough time. And the main thing is we’re in first place.”
Cabrera initially denied saying his groin was bothering him, but it was seemingly more a matter of semantics. The quotes were recorded, and he had said something earlier to Spanish-language media.
When Cabrera said last week that he wasn’t going to take part in the Home Run Derby, he said it was about his swing, that he didn’t want to mess it up anymore. Go all the way back to the second week of the season, and Cabrera said he felt good but that his swing wasn’t right. Cabrera wasn’t keen on using injuries as an excuse down the stretch last year, either. So Cabrera saying he’s good doesn’t mean he’s healthy.
It took barely 24 hours for Steven Moya and Jake Thompson to go from Futures Game opponents to Tigers minor-leauge teammates. No sooner had Thompson returned from Minnesota than the Tigers promoted him from Class A Lakeland to Double-A Erie, where Moya has been playing all season.
It’s a relatively big step for the 20-year-old Thompson after 39 professional starts. He made 16 starts for Lakeland, posting a 6-4 record with a 3.14 ERA and 75 hits allowed over 83 innings. He walked 25, struck out 79 and gave up just three home runs, two of them allowed in his final start before the break last week.
The late-season stint in the more hitter-friendly Eastern League, which has smaller ballparks than in Florida, should be a good test for the sinkerballing Thompson, who has allowed just eight home runs over 194 2/3 professional innings.
“I got off to a hot start at the beginning of the year and kind of just worked off of that,” Thompson said about his season Sunday. “That’s really it. I’m actually really proud of how far I’ve come since last year, just kind of tweaking my game plan and going out there and executing it.”
Also joining the Erie rotation is left-hander Josh Turley, who went 7-1 with a 1.85 ERA in Lakeland while allowing just 70 hits over 97 1/3 innings. The 23-year-old was a 16th-round draft pick out of Baylor two years ago.
Thompson’s promotion came out moments after outfielder Steven Moya turned around and batted right-handed for the SeaWolves in a pinch-hitting appearance. For a slugger who bats left-handed, it was a surprise. Whether it’s a sign of things to come remains to be seen.
Moya was a switch-hitter as a teenager before he signed with the Tigers. According to Tom Reisenweber of the Erie Times-News, Moya had been taking right-handed swings in batting practice for the past month or so. At some point, the SeaWolves were going to give him an opportunity to try it in a blowout. They lost 11-4 last night.
The batting splits from Moya don’t suggest it’s a pressing issue. He’s batting .260 (33-for-127) with an .829 OPS against left-handers, and .267 (59-for-221) with an .835 OPS off righties.
Max Scherzer wasn’t the only Tigers client that agent Scott Boras was discussing during his appearance at All-Star media day. He also gave a medical update on Jose Iglesias, who’s out for the year to allow stress fractures to heal in his shins.
“I was just down to see him a week ago [in Miami], and he’s doing well,” Boras said. “The doctor reports are good. He’s going back in a month to get a final x-ray. His medication and everything seem to be working well, so we’ve gotten very, very good reports. He’s obviously ready to go, as you can imagine, so he’s looking forward to it.”
Asked if they’ve gotten any better read on why the condition became so severe, Boras said:
“You don’t really how these things go. This began, really, in Boston. And when you get shin splints or something like that, you don’t know the severity of it, and sometimes you don’t know what medication to give until you really know the severity of the condition. So in this situation, once that was diagnosed, they knew what to do. But it involved both shins. That part of it, especially for an athlete that is as [mobile].
“He is not a sit-still player. He’s moving around, he’s a very aggressive defensive player. That part of it was just something he couldn’t get resolved, and it just took time. Once you have the injury, those layers of bone get inflamed, and you just have to take a good amount of time for it to heal.”
As for any chance of it happening again, Boras said, “The recurrence part, we’re told, once it’s healed, we’re fine. The problem is, because he was playing so much, he just never had a chance to heal.”
Max Scherzer hasn’t said much about his free-agent situation since the season began, as he forecasted. He wasn’t saying much about it on All-Star media day, either.
“I’m still numb to it,” Scherzer said of the pending pitching, including himself, set to hit the market this winter. “The only thing that motivates me, the only thing that I want more, is to win in Detroit this year. That’s my number one goal. That’s the only thing I can think about, and the only thing I want. Everything else, from the off-field standpoint, takes care of itself.”
Fortunately, the guy Scherzer pays to handle those things was in the same ballroom as the media day festivities.
“You view that as a distraction,” agent Scott Boras said. “We view that as everyday life. When you are a player and you’re going year by year, it’s the same thing every year. You’re accepting or you’re making decisions and then you’re going out and performing.
“I think Max’s focus is on winning, it’s about performance and how well his team does, and that’s the same thing he was doing last year. So I don’t think that [has changed]. I mean, Max is really, really good at a plan. He’s very very good at structuring a plan around what he wants to get done. And his focus every day is on that plan. He’s got unfulfilled goals in Detroit that he wants to accomplish, and that is at the forefront of really what he wants to do day in and day out.”
At last year’s All-Star Game, Boras was reveling in representing both starting pitchers — Scherzer and Matt Harvey. It was there that Boras said Tigers fans shouldn’t be scared of free agency, because free agency has been good to Detroit.
There certainly seems to be some fear now. The Tigers hoped to get Scherzer signed in Spring Training, of course, but the two sides couldn’t find the right number. Scherzer took some public scrutiny for not taking a six-year, $144 million offer, though others expected the market to meet him.
After Scherzer’s 11-3 first-half record and a complete-game shutout, nobody is second-guessing him anymore. And Boras can afford to gloat a little.
Look, when you do these things, when you’re talking about the type of money involved you’re always the village idiot until the player is outside the village,” Boras said. “Believe me, I’ve got 15 ways to explain it. …
“I don’t expect anything but the fans to come out and watch him pitch, support him and understand what he means to the franchise. And I think with each day Max pitches, and each year he performs there, the perception of Max as a valued member of the Detroit Tigers is certainly increasing and more understood by the fans in Detroit.”
They’re also understanding what happens when this season is over. Both sides agreed not to negotiate during the season, and Boras said they’re sticking to it. That puts Scherzer on track to hit the open market as most likely the biggest arm.
“Currently the way he’s going, obviously Max has positioned himself to be prominent,” Boras said. “There just aren’t many people in the league with 32 wins and six losses. That might be a separator. It just might be something that few people do.
“The other thing is who Max is, because Max is a contributor to his teammates. I think the Detroit pitching staff has gotten better. I think they all communicate with one another. I think their egos are all in check. He’s a good teammate, too. He’s a competitor, so his leadership is of great value to a franchise.”
That does not mean Boras and Scherzer have closed the door on a new deal in Detroit.
“I’ve said this long ago, the Detroit franchise is a franchise of choice,” Boras continued. “And Mike Ilitch, if he deems Max to be somebody that’s important to them, we certainly have not in any way … our position to the Tigers, and the value to the Tigers, how well Max does in Detroit, none of that’s changed as far as us listening to anything Detroit may have to say when the offseason comes.”
Victor Martinez said he’s taking in these All-Star festivities as a fan and a dad, taking pictures of his kids with the All-Stars. Come Friday, he hopes to be a designated hitter again.
“I swung the bat yesterday for the first time,” Martinez said Monday. “There’s like a 95 percent [chance] that I’m going to be able to play when I get back on Friday.”
The Tigers open their second half Friday at home against Cleveland, part of a four-game, three-day series that includes a day-night doubleheader Saturday.
“I’m a lot better,” Martinez said. “I’m almost right there. I mean, as much as I love the game and as much as I love this team, this stage right here, we still have a long way to go. I have to get right. I have to get back into the lineup and keep helping the team.”
Rekindling memories of the debate over which spot in the batting order is best for Miguel Cabrera, AL All-Star manager John Farrell put Cabrera in the cleanup spot for tomorrow night’s Midsummer Classic. He batted third in his other two All-Star starts.
Cabrera will have Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista batting behind him for protection.
Here’s the full lineup:
- Derek Jeter, SS
- Mike Trout, LF
- Robinson Cano, 2B
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B
- Jose Bautista, RF
- Nelson Cruz, DH
- Adam Jones, CF
- Josh Donaldson, 3B
- Salvador Perez, C
P: Felix Hernandez
Rick Porcello made a pretty good case for a spot here in Minnesota for the All-Star festivities. His presence might still have ended up at Target Field, at least for the Futures Game.
Porcello is enjoying a career breakout season at age 25, but he’s apparently serving as a role model already. When former Tigers top pick Jake Thompson went through a rough stretch, he indirectly turned to Porcello for ideas.
“I actually had a stretch of not-bad starts, but down starts for me, three starts in a row that weren’t as clean as I’d like them,” Thompson explained Sunday. “And it was about the same time as he threw those back-to-back complete games. And I really watched what he was doing. He was just throwing his two-seam down, get that sink down in the zone, get the ball put in play.
“I actually took that into my next start after that. It works. He’s the kind of guy I think I can be similar to. But there’s a lot of stuff from guys I try to watch.”
Thompson pitched seven innings of three-run ball last week, though he gave up two home runs in the process after giving up one homer in his previous 15 starts combined.
“I guess I’ve been a little bit lucky,” Thompson said of the low home-run total. “My two-seam has a little bit of sink to it, which helps. But there’s a lot of good luck.”
Thompson has also learned a lot — directly, in this case — from a former Tigers pitcher, Mike Maroth, these days the pitching coach at Class A Lakeland.
“What’s really cool about Mike,” Thompson said, “is when he played, he didn’t have overpowering stuff. He was a really soft thrower, so he knows kind of some crafty ways that a lot of people wouldn’t know about getting people out as far as alignment on the rubber and all that. Most people overlook, but it can really help you if you pay attention to it.
“His big thing with me is I’m naturally on the field a little bit high-strung. He preaches calm, to slow everything down. That’s really the huge thing. That actually helps tremendously. He preaches, ‘Don’t go out there and get pumped up in the first. Get pumped up in the seventh.’”
That composure makes a difference.
“I used to go out and get too wired,” he said. “Now I’ve got it pretty good. I’m just sticking with what I can control — throwing two seams, mixing in breaking balls. I’m not the guy who goes out there and tries to light up the radar gun. I’m not going to hit 100. I stick with what makes me successful.”
Thompson, in case you missed it, earned the win in Sunday’s Futures Game by striking out both of the batters he faced. One of them was fellow Tigers prospect Steven Moya.
The Tigers close out the first half with a meeting with old friend Bruce Chen. J.D. Martinez starts in right field, with Torii Hunter at DH. Alex Avila gets the start against the lefty with Verlander on the mound.
TIGERS (career numbers off Chen)
- Austin Jackson, CF (13-for-40, 5 doubles, triple, HR, 3 walks, 7 K’s)
- Ian Kinsler, 2B (3-for-7)
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B (16-for-39, 4 doubles, 5 HR, 10 walks, 6 K’s)
- J.D. Martinez, RF (2-for-3, double, walk)
- Torii Hunter, DH (6-for-25, 2 doubles, HR, 2 walks, 4 K’s)
- Nick Castellanos, 3B
- Alex Avila, C (2-for-11, 3 walks, 3 K’s)
- Eugenio Suarez, SS
- Rajai Davis, LF (1-for-8, walk, K)
P: Justin Verlander
ROYALS (career numbers vs. Verlander)
- Nori Aoki, RF (1-for-6, 4 walks, 2 K’s)
- Omar Infante, 2B (2-for-11, HR, walk, K)
- Eric Hosmer, 1B (12-for-49, 4 doubles, HR, 4 walks, 9 K’s)
- Billy Butler, DH (33-for-76, 5 doubles, 2 HR, 9 walks, 10 K’s)
- Mike Moustakas, 3B (6-for-41, HR, walk, 9 K’s)
- Raul Ibanez, LF (3-for-32, double, 4 walks, 5 K’s)
- Alcides Escobar, SS (10-for-48, 3 doubles, 2 walks, 5 K’s)
- Jarrod Dyson, CF (5-for-20, triple, 3 walks, 8 K’s)
- Brett Hayes, C
P: Bruce Chen
With the suspense pretty much over about Victor Martinez’s availability for the series, the four-outfielders-for-three-spots scenario is not a question. J.D. Martinez is the DH tonight, with Rajai Davis and Torii Hunter on the corners. Andrew Romine gets the start at shortstop to add another left-handed bat against James Shields, who’s allowing a .292 average and .792 OPS from the left side this year compared with .249 and .717 against righties. The lefty average is the highest of Shields’ career.
No major changes for the Royals in Rick Porcello’s first outing since he joined Twitter. This time, Lorenzo Cain is in right field to start the game after shifting there from center of the middle of the game Friday night.
TIGERS (career numbers off Shields)
- Austin Jackson, CF (10-for-32, 2 doubles, 2 triples, 3 walks, 9 K’s)
- Ian Kinsler, 2B (10-for-47, 2 doubles, 3 HR, 3 walks, 3 K’s)
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B (19-for-47, 8 doubles, 2 HR, 4 walks, 7 K’s)
- J.D. Martinez, DH (3-for-9, double, HR, walk, 3 K’s)
- Torii Hunter, RF (17-for-53, 4 doubles, 13 K’s)
- Nick Castellanos, 3B (1-for-2)
- Alex Avila, C (8-for-25, double, 2 HR, 3 walks, 11 K’s)
- Andrew Romine, SS (1-for-3)
- Rajai Davis, LF (2-for-16, triple, 3 K’s)
P: Rick Porcello
ROYALS (career numbers against Porcello)
- Nori Aoki, LF (0-for-3, K)
- Lorenzo Cain, RF (0-for-2, walk, K)
- Eric Hosmer, 1B (5-for-16, 2 HR, 2 walks, K)
- Salvador Perez, C (2-for-13, 2 K’s)
- Omar Infante, 2B (2-for-3, triple)
- Billy Butler, DH (14-for-45, 3 doubles, HR, walk, 10 K’s)
- Mike Moustakas, 3B (5-for-18, 3 doubles, walk, 3 K’s)
- Alcides Escobar, SS (1-for-23, 5 K’s)
- Jarrod Dyson, CF (2-for-8, triple, walk, K)
P: James Shields
If you’ve ever wondered what it was like when not every Tigers game was available to watch on live television, or what it’s like to sit around the house and listen to a game live on the radio, this is your night, because the Tigers-Royals game won’t be broadcast live. It’ll be available live on radio through the Tigers network and online at MLB Gameday Audio. Then, Fox Sports Detroit will have its telecast on tape delay beginning at 10pm ET.
It’s not an FSD decision, but a conflict between the Royals home game schedule and the FOX network national blackout. As part of its Saturday night game package, FOX holds the exclusive broadcast rights for the 7pm window. So, any games going on around that time that FOX isn’t showing can’t be telecast live.
The Tigers have worked around this ever since FSD started picking up the entire schedule, changing their home game times on Saturdays for games that FOX doesn’t pick up. For other teams, especially those that don’t have their entire schedule on TV in the first place, it’s a different story. In Kansas City, there’s a value to having a night game on Saturdays in the hottest part of the summer, rather than a day game. FSKC, for instance, isn’t picking up the game at all.
(Update: ALL of Kansas City’s Saturday home games are 6:10 CT starts)
FOX and MLB have worked around this in past years. Back in 2011, when the Tigers were on the verge of clinching their first division title in 27 years, FOX added a Tigers-A’s game from Oakland for Detroit and Bay Area viewers just in case the Tigers had a chance to clinch that day (they ended up clinching the night before). For a Tigers-Royals game in July, even though it’s a matchup of the top two teams in the AL Central, it wasn’t getting added.
For what it’s worth, the game is listed on the MLB.TV schedule, which means it’s online and on MLB At-Bat for mobile devices. I don’t expect it to be shown live, though, even for viewers out of market.