Boras: Scherzer “has positioned himself to be prominent” on free-agent market

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.”

V-Mart: 95 percent chance for Friday return

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.”

Cabrera to bat cleanup for AL All-Stars

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:

  1. Derek Jeter, SS
  2. Mike Trout, LF
  3. Robinson Cano, 2B
  4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  5. Jose Bautista, RF
  6. Nelson Cruz, DH
  7. Adam Jones, CF
  8. Josh Donaldson, 3B
  9. Salvador Perez, C

P: Felix Hernandez

 

Thompson takes example from Porcello

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.

Sunday’s lineups: Tigers at Royals

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)

  1. Austin Jackson, CF (13-for-40, 5 doubles, triple, HR, 3 walks, 7 K’s)
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B (3-for-7)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (16-for-39, 4 doubles, 5 HR, 10 walks, 6 K’s)
  4. J.D. Martinez, RF (2-for-3, double, walk)
  5. Torii Hunter, DH (6-for-25, 2 doubles, HR, 2 walks, 4 K’s)
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  7. Alex Avila, C (2-for-11, 3 walks, 3 K’s)
  8. Eugenio Suarez, SS
  9. Rajai Davis, LF (1-for-8, walk, K)

P: Justin Verlander

ROYALS (career numbers vs. Verlander)

  1. Nori Aoki, RF (1-for-6, 4 walks, 2 K’s)
  2. Omar Infante, 2B (2-for-11, HR, walk, K)
  3. Eric Hosmer, 1B (12-for-49, 4 doubles, HR, 4 walks, 9 K’s)
  4. Billy Butler, DH (33-for-76, 5 doubles, 2 HR, 9 walks, 10 K’s)
  5. Mike Moustakas, 3B (6-for-41, HR, walk, 9 K’s)
  6. Raul Ibanez, LF (3-for-32, double, 4 walks, 5 K’s)
  7. Alcides Escobar, SS (10-for-48, 3 doubles, 2 walks, 5 K’s)
  8. Jarrod Dyson, CF (5-for-20, triple, 3 walks, 8 K’s)
  9. Brett Hayes, C

P: Bruce Chen

Saturday’s lineups: Tigers at Royals

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.

Gameday | TV: FS Detroit (tape delay at 10pm ET), MLB.TV | Radio: 97.1 FM, AM 1270, Gameday Audio

TIGERS (career numbers off Shields)

  1. Austin Jackson, CF (10-for-32, 2 doubles, 2 triples, 3 walks, 9 K’s)
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B (10-for-47, 2 doubles, 3 HR, 3 walks, 3 K’s)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (19-for-47, 8 doubles, 2 HR, 4 walks, 7 K’s)
  4. J.D. Martinez, DH (3-for-9, double, HR, walk, 3 K’s)
  5. Torii Hunter, RF (17-for-53, 4 doubles, 13 K’s)
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B (1-for-2)
  7. Alex Avila, C (8-for-25, double, 2 HR, 3 walks, 11 K’s)
  8. Andrew Romine, SS (1-for-3)
  9. Rajai Davis, LF (2-for-16, triple, 3 K’s)

P: Rick Porcello

ROYALS (career numbers against Porcello)

  1. Nori Aoki, LF (0-for-3, K)
  2. Lorenzo Cain, RF (0-for-2, walk, K)
  3. Eric Hosmer, 1B (5-for-16, 2 HR, 2 walks, K)
  4. Salvador Perez, C (2-for-13, 2 K’s)
  5. Omar Infante, 2B (2-for-3, triple)
  6. Billy Butler, DH (14-for-45, 3 doubles, HR, walk, 10 K’s)
  7. Mike Moustakas, 3B (5-for-18, 3 doubles, walk, 3 K’s)
  8. Alcides Escobar, SS (1-for-23, 5 K’s)
  9. Jarrod Dyson, CF (2-for-8, triple, walk, K)

P: James Shields

Why tonight’s Tigers game won’t be broadcast live

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.

Friday’s lineups: Tigers at Royals

photo(1)

Victor Martinez is out of the lineup once again, which suggests it’s looking more and more likely he sits through the weekend, which puts his All-Star game status in doubt. He can wait until Sunday to decide that last part, but one would expect that MLB would appreciate as much lead-in time as possible so that whoever would replace him can make travel plans.

Rajai Davis, however, is back in the Tigers starting lineup, playing left field and batting ninth against Royals lefty Danny Duffy.

TIGERS (career numbers against Duffy)

  1. Austin Jackson, CF (3-for-17, double, HR, 4 walks, 5 K’s)
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B (2-for-9, HR, walk, K)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (5-for-16, 3 doubles, 6 walks, 4 K’s)
  4. J.D. Martinez, RF (1-for-3, HR, K)
  5. Torii Hunter, DH (0-for-5, 2 walks, 2 K’s)
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B (1-for-6)
  7. Eugenio Suarez, SS (0-for-2)
  8. Bryan Holaday, C (0-for-6, 3 K’s)
  9. Rajai Davis, LF (1-for-7, double, walk, K)

P: Anibal Sanchez

ROYALS (career numbers off Sanchez)

  1. Nori Aoki, RF
  2. Lorenzo Cain, CF (3-for-13)
  3. Eric Hosmer, 1B (3-for-19, K)
  4. Salvador Perez, C (0-for-12, 2 walks, 2 K’s)
  5. Billy Butler, DH (6-for-18, 2 doubles, walk, 3 K’s)
  6. Mike Moustakas, 3B (2-for-12, double, 3 walks, 3 K’s)
  7. Omar Infante, 2B (3-for-21, walk, 3 K’s)
  8. Jarrod Dyson, LF (2-for-16, 4 K’s)
  9. Alcides Escobar, SS (5-for-18, 3 K’s)

P: Danny Duffy

Thursday’s lineups: Tigers at Royals

I’m not in Kansas City, since I’ll be in Minnesota for early All-Star activities. Still, lineups are lineups, especially when there’s still serious question whether Victor Martinez will play again before the break. For tonight’s series opener, at least, he’s still out. Torii Hunter’s at DH, with J.D. Martinez in left field and Don Kelly in right as an extra left-handed bat.

On the Royals side, the batting order is looking a little different with Alex Gordon out with a bad wrist. Old man Raul Ibanez is starting in left field, Omar Infante is batting fifth, and Danny Valencia is the cleanup hitter. Considering Gordon is just 2-for-17 off Drew Smyly, this might work to KC’s advantage, at least at the plate.

If you assumed that Billy Butler hits Drew Smyly well, you’re right. He’s 6-for-11.

TIGERS (career numbers off Jeremy Guthrie)

  1. Austin Jackson, CF (5-for-27, double, HR, 2 walks, 8 K’s)
  2. Ian Kinsler, 2B (12-for-34, 2 doubles, triple, 3 walks, 5 K’s)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (14-for-43, 3 HR, 5 walks, 8 K’s)
  4. J.D. Martinez, LF (4-for-12, double, 2 HR)
  5. Torii Hunter, DH (12-for-40, 3 doubles, 3 K’s)
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B (1-for-3, double)
  7. Alex Avila, C (7-for-26, 2 doubles, 3 HR, 4 walks, 8 K’s)
  8. Eugenio Suarez, SS (0-for-2, K)
  9. Don Kelly, RF (4-for-18, 5 K’s)

P: Drew Smyly

ROYALS (career numbers off Smyly)

  1. Lorenzo Cain, RF (2-for-4, K)
  2. Eric Hosmer, 1B (3-for-15, double, walk, 4 K’s)
  3. Salvador Perez, C (1-for-4, HR)
  4. Danny Valencia, 3B (1-for-5, K)
  5. Omar Infante, 2B (1-for-6, HR)
  6. Billy Butler, DH (6-for-11, double, walk, 2 K’s)
  7. Raul Ibanez, LF (1-for-2, double)
  8. Alcides Escobar, SS (3-for-14, double, 4 K’s)
  9. Jarrod Dyson, CF (1-for-4, 3 K’s)

P: Jeremy Guthrie

Max Scherzer, All-Star starter (again)? Probably not

A week ago at this point, most of us were wondering whether Max Scherzer might be snubbed out of the All-Star Game altogether. Now, after his latest gem, it’s worth wondering if he could start the Midsummer Classic again.

Between the makeup of the AL pitching staff and the recent results, it’s not that crazy, though it’s unlikely.

Scherzer’s win over the Dodgers Wednesday tied him with Rick Porcello for second in the American League with 11 wins. The one American Leaguer with more, 12-game winner Masuhiro Tanaka, is out after going on the disabled list with elbow soreness.

That opens the door for a lot of candidates. Felix Hernandez would seem to have the strongest resume, boasting a 10-2 record to go with a 2.11 ERA for the resurgent Mariners. Mark Buehrle has 10 wins and a 2.60 ERA, though he also has six losses to go with that. Scott Kazmir is 10-3 with a 2.53 ERA.

None of them are on track to start Sunday, so they’re not going to be ruled out.

Scherzer has the advantage on wins (11-3 record) as well as strikeouts, but heads into the break with a 3.35 ERA. Hernandez tops him on strikeout-to-walk ratio, hits per nine innings, innings pitched, home runs allowed and Wins Above Replacement.

In short, it looks like a long shot. The fact that Scherzer could even be considered in this conversation, though, is a testament to his performance over the last month.

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