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Daniel Fields headed to Detroit, Davis to paternity leave (updated)

The Tigers are making a roster move Tuesday, albeit a temporary one. Outfielder Rajai Davis is being placed on the paternity leave list to be with his wife for the birth of their second child, MLB.com has learned.

To take his place, the Tigers are calling up Daniel Fields for what will be his first big-league stint. Fields strongly hinted on Twitter at getting the call after Monday night’s game for Triple-A Toledo against Indianapolis, and it was later confirmed by several outlets, including MLB.com and Chris Iott of MLive.com. The Tigers have not yet announced the move.

It’s a first Major League stint for Fields, but he spent a good part of his childhood around Comerica Park. His father, Bruce Fields, spent three seasons as Tigers hitting coach under Alan Trammell, and countless more years in the organization, where he currently serves as the minor league hitting coordinator. Bruce Fields also played for the Tigers in 1986, making Daniel a second generation Tiger.

Daniel Fields was a sixth-round pick in the 2009 Draft by the Tigers, who signed him away from a commitment to the University of Michigan. He was a star athlete at University of Detroit Jesuit High School. He has had speed bumps up the system, but has found his offensive form over the last few years. He’s batting .271 in his second season at Triple-A Toledo with three home runs and 21 RBIs.

Davis said after Sunday night’s loss in Anaheim that he was headed to meet his wife at the hospital once he landed in Detroit. Players can spend one to three days on the paternity leave list.

On missing hitters and pressing ones

The frustration level in the Tigers clubhouse after Sunday night’s loss was high, probably the highest it has been all season. It was clearly visible, and I wrote about it last night on the site. So the sense that players don’t care and have shut it down is a bit off, based on clubhouse atmosphere compared to dugout demeanor.

There was another sense coming out of last night’s clubhouse, and something that hasn’t been so chronicled: A lot of hitters are doing a lot of pressing with Victor Martinez out of the lineup and the numbers sagging without him. And the longer the offensive struggles go, the more pressure builds, even on a veteran club like this one.

Asked if hitters are pressing, Miguel Cabrera believed so.

“I think everybody,” Cabrera said. “That’s the thing. When you put a lot of pressure on yourself, you overdo it. You overswing. You want to make the extra play. You want to take the extra base. And that’s when you make mistakes, when you try too hard.

“I think we have to cut down a little bit. We still have to play aggressive. We have to go out there and play aggressive and play better, man. We don’t play good right now.”

Cabrera knows what it’s like, because he had to learn how to play with added pressure from the time he got to Detroit, if not sooner. He struggled with it his first few years as a Tiger, then broke out when he learned how to handle it. Few guys have handled that pressure as well as Victor Martinez.

“When you press, you try to do something you’re not used to doing. That’s when you make mistakes,” Cabrera said. “That’s when everything goes wrong.”

When whatever good at-bats hitters have go unrewarded, the frustration compounds it.

“Not an excuse,” Cabrera said, “but we try and we play to make something happen. But you see we hit a line drive right at them. We have good at-bats and strike out. When you put that together, you see we aren’t doing good.

“We have to keep battling. It’s not going to be easy but we have to go out there and try to do our best. We have to try to do better.”

Ian Kinsler referenced that as well.

“You have to take your at-bat for what it’s worth,” Kinsler said. “However many at-bats you get every night, you need to be prepared for those at-bats. When you start adding extra pressure on yourself because the way the team as a whole is swinging, then it becomes difficult. You’re adding unneeded pressure. Everybody needs to take their at-bats one at a time, quality at-bat after quality at-bat, and then start rolling.

“But also, there are plays that happened that sucked the wind out of us. Hitting into that double play [Saturday] with first and second, nobody out, it seems like that’s been happening a lot lately where the wind’s kind of getting taken out of our sails. That’s part of the game.”

The double plays, of course, are a big part of their game lately. Somehow, though, they have to try to create something.

One of manager Brad Ausmus’ ways of trying to ward off pressure is to trust in the numbers. The track records suggest slumps will fade, numbers will rebound.

“When you sign a player or acquire a player or bring a player up, you’re doing that based on what you think he can do over six months of baseball,” Ausmus said. “When things aren’t going well for a month and a half, or a month, you assume that over six months it returns to the norm.”

Even Ausmus, though, is showing concern over the struggles, even if he sees them as short-term blips. Asked at what point he gets worried about the offense, he said, “I’m a little worried about it right now.

“I still think long term the offense will be fine, but with every passing day, it becomes more of an issue.”

With every passing day, meanwhile, the pressure builds, even on guys who have been used to it.

“We want to win,” Cabrera said. “But if we keep thinking like we’re thinking right now, I think we’re going to be in trouble.”

Sunday night lineups: Tigers at Angels

Nick Castellanos gets the night off amidst an 0-for-11 slump and a 3-for-21 road trip. Asked if it was simply a day off for Castellanos, Brad Ausmus said, “Just a game on for Romine.”

The Angels, meanwhile, get Erick Aybar back to put up against David Price. He had missed the last couple games after tweaking his hamstring Thursday night.

With a 5pm PT start, keep an eye on the shadows in the early innings. The light towers will cast a shadow around the pitching mound as the sun begins to set behind the third-base dugout, giving hitters a challenge picking up the spin on the ball. At the same time, Miguel Cabrera was having a devil of a time with the glare while playing first base in the first inning or two Thursday night, and that was a 7pm PT start.

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

tigerhitterlogoTIGERS (career numbers vs. Matt Shoemaker)

  1. Anthony Gose, CF
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B (1-for-3, double, K)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (0-for-3)
  4. Yoenis Cespedes, LF (0-for-2, 2 K’s)
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF (0-for-3, K)
  6. Tyler Collins, DH
  7. James McCann, C
  8. Jose Iglesias, SS
  9. Andrew Romine, 3B

P: David Price

halologoANGELS (career numbers off Price)

  1. Erick Aybar, SS (6-for-23, 2 doubles, walk, K)
  2. Mike Trout, CF (2-for-9, 2 walks, 6 K’s)
  3. Albert Pujols, DH (3-for-11, 2 HR)
  4. David Freese, 3B
  5. Chris Iannetta, C (5-for-15, double, HR, 3 K’s)
  6. Kole Calhoun, RF (1-for-3, K)
  7. Grant Green, 1B (3-for-6)
  8. Alfredo Marte, LF
  9. Johnny Giavotella, 2B (0-for-3, 2 K’s)

P: Matt Shoemaker

Verlander battles command in rehab start (updated)

Justin Verlander had a healthy arm by all indications in his rehab start for Triple-A Toledo Sunday afternoon. He did not, however, have his command yet, allowing six hits and two walks over 2 2/3 innings at Indianapolis.

It was his first outing in two months since straining his triceps in a Spring Training start March 27, and it seemed to show in his control. Verlander looked good with his velocity, consistently hitting 93-94 mph with his fastball with a few peaking at 95-96, but struggled to hit his spots in a two-run second inning.

Verlander threw 79 pitches, 50 for strikes, right around the 80-85 pitches the Tigers had targeted for him. Thirty-six of those pitches came in the second inning, when back-to-back walks loaded the bases with one out.

Verlander was a ball away from walking in a run when he threw his best fastballs of the day, following up a 96 mph heater with another at 95 to strike out former Tigers farmhand Gustavo Nunez.

Two pitches later, Verlander induced a popup that seemingly had him out of the inning, but shortstop Dixon Machado – fresh back from Detroit – lost track of it as it fell near the infield dirt, scoring two runs.

Three singles, two of them softly hit, loaded the bases again in the third on Verlander, who left after a three-pitch strikeout and a sacrifice fly.

Even with the three strikeouts, Verlander had to fight to finish off hitters. Twenty-two of his 50 strikes were pitches that Indy hitters fouled off, nine of them in two-strike counts to keep at-bats going. That and the defense — Verlander threw six extra pitches after the Machado misplay, which was ruled a double — helped to run up Verlander’s pitch count.

Manager Brad Ausmus said it’s too early to say anything about what Verlander will do next. He could make a second rehab start or potentially could rejoin the Tigers next weekend.

“We’ll talk to him Tuesday, figure out what the next step is,” Ausmus said.

Detroit could certainly use Verlander, but Tigers officials have exercised extreme patience with him over the last month and a half, waiting until they were certain about his health before taking each step. They had the benefit of an effective Kyle Lobstein filling in for much of that time, but Lobstein is now on the 15-day disabled list with left shoulder inflammation.

If Verlander throws another rehab start, Buck Farmer or Kyle Ryan would most likely start in his place. Farmer was called up to replace Lobstein and took the loss Thursday against the Angels. Ryan was called up and pitched three-plus innings in relief Wednesday at Oakland after Alfredo Simon went on the bereavement list for a family emergency. Simon is scheduled to start Tuesday against the A’s at Comerica Park.

Saturday’s lineups: Tigers at Angels

 About as big of a sports Saturday as it gets in Anaheim, where the Ducks and Blackhawks are playing Game 7 of the NHL’s Western Conference finals on the other side of the freeway at the Honda Center (you can see it out beyond left-center field). That matchup begins a couple hours before the Tigers and Angels get at it here at Angel Stadium.

As recent history has shown, Game 7s can be low-scoring affairs. We’ll see if Game 3 here at Angel Stadium is any higher scoring than Game 2. Jered Weaver, who has posted one-run outings against the Tigers in each of their last two meetings, gives Detroit its first right-handed starter to face since Tuesday. Anthony Gose, who has never faced Weaver, moves back up to the leadoff spot, and Tyler Collins gets the start at DH, relegating Rajai Davis to a reserve role for the night. Nick Castellanos drops down to the eighth spot in the batting order.

The Angels, meanwhile, have brought back Efren Navarro, who went 4-for-9 with a two-run home run and three RBIs against the Tigers here last July.

tigers1957logoTIGERS (career numbers off Weaver)

  1. Anthony Gose, CF
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B (20-for-85, 5 doubles, 3 HR, 6 walks, 9 K’s)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (6-for-23, 3 doubles, HR, 4 walks, 3 K’s)
  4. Yoenis Cespedes, LF (4-for-13, 2 doubles, walk, 2 K’s)
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF
  6. Tyler Collins, DH
  7. James McCann, C
  8. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  9. Jose Iglesias, SS (0-for-5, K)

P: Shane Greene

angelscalilogoANGELS

  1. Johnny Giavotella, 2B
  2. Mike Trout, CF
  3. Albert Pujols, DH
  4. Kole Calhoun, RF
  5. David Freese, 3B
  6. Matt Joyce, LF
  7. Carlos Perez, C
  8. Efren Navarro, 1B
  9. Grant Green, SS

P: Jered Weaver

Friday’s lineups: Tigers at Angels

  
Nick Castellanos gets a night at the designated hitter spot, a move Brad Ausmus said allowed him to get Hernan Perez another start at third base.

“I wanted to put Perez at third,” Ausmus said.

The move gives the Tigers another right-handed bat against Hector Santiago, who has a .246 (33-for-134) batting average allowed from the right side with five home runs, compared with .176 (12-for-68) and one homer from lefties. Perez, meanwhile, has faced Santiago previously, going 1-for-2 with a triple.

Tonight’s Angels lineup sets up an opportunity at a rebound for Anibal Sanchez, who has had a lot of favorable numbers aside from Matt Joyce. But he has had this in past starts, and hasn’t fared well.

I sent in this for our game preview last night: If you’re looking for a pitch that’s making a huge difference for Sanchez, the numbers suggest the changeup. Opponents have hit his changeup for a .578 slugging percentage this year, according to STATS, compared with .320 last season. The scouting report this year, according to some, has been to lay off his fastball and go at the offspeed, though the BABIP and slugging off his fastball is up as well (not as dramatically, though). They’re chasing his fastball out of the strike zone less, and getting more quality swings when they do.

tigerroarlogoTIGERS (career numbers off Hector Santiago)

  1. Rajai Davis, CF (1-for-8, HR, 3 K’s)
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B (3-for-10, double, 3 walks, K)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (1-for-9, 2 walks, 3 K’s)
  4. Yoenis Cespedes, LF (4-for-11, 2 HR, 2 walks, K)
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF (0-for-3)
  6. James McCann, C
  7. Nick Castellanos, DH (0-for-4, 2 K’s)
  8. Hernan Perez, 3B (1-for-2, triple)
  9. Jose Iglesias, SS (1-for-4, walk)

P: Anibal Sanchez

angelssecondarylogoANGELS (career numbers off Sanchez)

  1. Johnny Giavotella, 2B (0-for-6, K)
  2. Mike Trout, CF (1-for-7, HR, 3 K’s)
  3. Albert Pujols, 1B (5-for-19, 2 doubles, walk, 3 K’s)
  4. Kole Calhoun, RF
  5. David Freese, 3B (2-for-6, double, K)
  6. Matt Joyce, DH (5-for-15, double, 2 triples, HR, 5 K’s)
  7. Chris Iannetta, C (1-for-12, 3 K’s)
  8. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, LF
  9. Taylor Featherston, SS

P: Hector Santiago

Game 49: Tigers’ offensive struggles hit flip side

The Tigers were expecting to get a boost from the return of shortstop Jose Iglesias to the starting lineup. This wasn’t quite what they had in mind.

Their fate was pretty well decided long before Iglesias doubled in J.D. Martinez in the ninth inning Thursday night, turning this into a 12-2 loss instead of 12-1. It was significant statistically because it matched the number of run-scoring hits the Tigers posted previously on this West Coast trip: One.

Yoenis Cespedes’ three-run homer Wednesday was the only run-scoring hit in Oakland. Detroit was shut out Monday, and got a 1-0 win Tuesday  night on the strength of a Rajai Davis sacrifice fly. It still left town taking two out of three.

Thursday was hoped to be game the Tigers’ offensive struggles changed. They’ve hit lefties this season. They hit C.J. Wilson for 11 runs over 16 innings in their previous three innings. Instead, the only run they scored came when C.J. Wilson hit Miguel Cabrera with the bases loaded.

Wilson regrouped from there, got a called third strike on Yoenis Cespedes and limited a threat that had been built on one single, a pair of two-out walks and a pitch off Cabrera’s surgically repaired right foot (fortunately, closer to the toes than the area of the surgery, according to manager Brad Ausmus).

“If you had to put your finger on something, that would be the one inning when it kind of got away from us,” Ausmus said.

Wilson allowed a run over six innings despite five walks, thanks to the seven strikeouts.

“We hit a few balls hard early off of him, then got some walks,” Ausmus said. “We just didn’t hit.”

Low-scoring struggles in Oakland were nothing new in recent years. Low scoring off C.J. Wilson was; Detroit had scored at least three runs in five of their previous six meetings, dating back to his final season as a Texas Ranger in 2011. The one stingy outing in the bunch, Wilson walked just two guys over 7 2/3 innings in September 2012.

Ausmus said some players are putting pressure on themselves to get the big hit. That said, they’ve had a profound lack of big hits lately. This is one matchup where they clearly missed Victor Martinez, even this year’s version, given his ability to bat right-handed. If they can get him swinging at least reasonably well left-handed now, they’d probably take it, given his ability to get hits in pressure situations. It’s difficult to expect that to happen in just a 15-day stint, though. He continues to work out at home in Orlando with the hope of strengthening the knee, but it’s not known yet how that will translate to his swing.

For now, this is the offense they have, and they have to put runs together. Even without Martinez, Ausmus believes they’re better than this.

Play of the game: Albert Pujols’ two-run homer certainly wasn’t the shot that decided the game, but it put the Tigers down from the outset, capitalizing on a hanging slider from Buck Farmer. The Angels hit two homers in their first six batters, building a 3-0 lead that left the Tigers searching for runs to answer until the Angels put it clearly out of reach in the sixth.

Out of the game: The Tigers had a number of hitters who have pounded Wilson over the years. Cespedes wasn’t one of them. He was 0-for-6 with five strikeouts against Wilson during his Oakland years, and Wilson added to it to escape the third, spotting a called third strike to strand the bases loaded and hold his damage at a run.

Strategery: It was one run among a dozen, but Johnny Giavotella’s run in the fifth looked like a page out of Mike Scioscia’s younger years. He turned what looked initially like a double into a triple when Cespedes, who was playing closer to the gap, didn’t get to the ball in the left-field corner right away. That set up Erick Aybar’s squeeze bunt two pitches later for a 4-1 lead.

Line of the game: Wilson became the first pitcher to hold the Tigers to one run despite five walks since Texas’ Derek Holland on July 13, 2013. Holland, too, survived with help from seven strikeouts.

Stat of the game: Farmer gave up home runs in his first six batters Thursday (two) than he allowed in 51 1/3 innings at Triple-A Toledo this year.

Thursday’s lineups: Tigers at Angels

Jose Iglesias returns to the Tigers lineup after missing the last four games with a bruised left knee. The fact that the Tigers sent Dixon Machado to Toledo to make room for Buck Farmer suggests some level of confidence that Iglesias is fine, because Machado now can’t be recalled for 10 days unless there’s a DL move involved.

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

tigerslogoTIGERS (career numbers off C.J. Wilson)

  1. Rajai Davis, DH (8-for-26, 2 doubles, triple, 3 walks, 4 K’s)
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B (8-for-21, 2 doubles, triple, HR, 4 walks, 3 K’s)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (6-for-20, 2 doubles, HR, 6 walks, 6 K’s)
  4. Yoenis Cespedes, LF (6-for-18, 4 walks, 3 K’s)
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF (3-for-10, double, 2 walks, 4 K’s)
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B (1-for-3, HR)
  7. James McCann, C
  8. Jose Iglesias, SS (1-for-7, walk, 2 K’s)
  9. Anthony Gose, CF (0-for-3, 2 K’s)

P: Buck Farmer

angelslogoANGELS

  1. Erick Aybar, SS
  2. Mike Trout, CF
  3. Albert Pujols, DH
  4. Kole Calhoun, RF
  5. David Freese, 3B
  6. Matt Joyce, LF
  7. Chris Iannetta, C
  8. Grant Green, 1B
  9. Johnny Giavotella, 2B

P: C.J. Wilson

Wednesday’s lineups: Tigers at Athletics

So to get everybody caught up:

  • Alfredo Simon, who was supposed to start for the Tigers today, has been placed on the bereavement list to deal with a family emergency. He has left the team.
  • Kyle Ryan was called up from Triple-A Toledo to start in Simon’s place. The Mud Hens, however, are in Louisville, and getting from Louisville to the Bay Area is neither quick nor direct. So he won’t make it in time to start.
  • Alex Wilson, who has filled numerous roles out of the Tigers bullpen in the few weeks he has been with them, now gets the role of starter, likely to fill two or three innings. They’ll play it by ear from there.

tigers1927logoTIGERS (career numbers off Scott Kazmir)

  1. Rajai Davis, RF (10-for-21, 3 doubles, triple, HR, 8 K’s)
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B (5-for-36, 2 doubles, HR, 4 walks, 3 K’s)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (8-for-26, 2 doubles, triple, 2 HR, 4 walks, 6 K’s)
  4. Yoenis Cespedes, LF (0-for-6, 5 K’s)
  5. J.D. Martinez, DH (0-for-8, walk, 4 K’s)
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B (0-for-3, 2 walks, 2 K’s)
  7. Bryan Holaday, C
  8. Dixon Machado, SS
  9. Anthony Gose, CF

P: Alex Wilson

swinginaslogoATHLETICS (career numbers off Wilson)

  1. Billy Burns, CF
  2. Josh Reddick, RF
  3. Ben Zobrist, 2B (0-for-2, K)
  4. Stephen Vogt, C
  5. Billy Butler, DH (1-for-1)
  6. Max Muncy, 1B
  7. Brett Lawrie, 3B (1-for-1, triple)
  8. Sam Fuld, LF (0-for-1)
  9. Eric Sogard, SS

P: Scott Kazmir

Tuesday’s lineups: Tigers at Athletics

The Tigers decide to give Miguel Cabrera another chance in the starting lineup after sitting him on Monday. His night-game stats have been well documented, but he has pounded Jesse Chavez’s pitches in their few meetings when Chavez has given him something to hit.

Ian Kinsler, however, gets the night off, his first game out of the starting lineup this season. Between his 0-for-20 slump and his 3-for-14 history against Chavez, the timing seems to make sense. Hernan Perez gets his second consecutive start, this time at second base, while Andrew Romine starts in place of still-hobbled Jose Iglesias.

On the Oakland side, Ben Zobrist — who was activated from the 15-day DL on Monday but didn’t play — returns to the lineup on his 34th birthday against former teammate David Price. So, too, does Brett Lawrie, who missed the last few games with a sore back.

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

tigerslogoTIGERS (career numbers off Jesse Chavez)

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

P: David Price

elephantlogoATHLETICS (career numbers off Price)

  1.  Billy Burns, CF
  2. Marcus Semien, SS (3-for-8, double, 3 K’s)
  3. Ben Zobrist, 2B (0-for-3)
  4. Billy Butler, DH (3-for-9, walk)
  5. Stephen Vogt, 1B
  6. Mark Canha, LF
  7. Brett Lawrie, 3B (3-for-18, 5 K’s)
  8. Josh Phegley, C (1-for-7, HR)
  9. Sam Fuld, RF

P: Jesse Chavez

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