McCann likely out 2-4 weeks with ankle sprain

The Tigers placed catcher James McCann on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with a right ankle sprain, suffered when he tried to avoid a first-base collision in Monday’s game against the Pirates.

“They’re calling it a Grade 2 sprain, which is generally 2-4 weeks,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “But the next 24-48 hours should give us a better idea of how long it could be.”

It’s a seventh player to the disabled list for the Tigers, who opened the season without Cameron Maybin, Daniel Norris, Alex Wilson and Blaine Hardy among others. But considering the incident, they’ll count their blessings.

“It could’ve been a lot worse,” said McCann, who came into the home clubhouse at Comerica Park on crutches Tuesday morning, his right foot in a boot.

McCann was trying to beat out a single on a fifth-inning bouncer to second base. Josh Harrison’s throw led first baseman John Jaso into McCann’s path as he reached toward the line to grab the throw.

McCann was charging as Jaso reached, forcing McCann to try to change his path at the last second. McCann came up on the bag. Replay showed his right foot hit the side of the bag and turn, thus turning the ankle with it.

McCann tumbled to the ground behind the bag as first-base umpire Gabe Morales ruled him out. McCann walked off the field on his own power, followed by head athletic trainer Kevin Rand. Backup Jarrod Saltalamacchia replaced McCann behind the plate for the sixth inning.

Saltalamacchia, signed last December to give the Tigers a veteran backup, will get the bulk of the starts while McCann is out. The Tigers purchased the contract of Bobby Wilson from Triple-A Toledo to fill McCann’s spot and back up Saltalamacchia.

The Tigers acquired Wilson at the end of Spring Training from Texas in a trade for Bryan Holaday, who would’ve been a natural in the role after a solid spring but was out of minor-league options and would not have cleared waivers. The 33-year-old Wilson has played in 249 Major League games over parts of seven seasons, including 56 games last year as a backup with the Rays and Rangers.

As for McCann, he’ll travel with the team on its upcoming road trip to Pittsburgh, Houston and Kansas City. He’ll continue to assemble scouting reports on opposing hitters, a role he took on midway through last season.

Monday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Pirates

It’s a cloudy, foggy morning around Detroit, and it might stay that way for most of the afternoon but the skies appear to be clearing for afternoon. But it’s dry and, most importantly, warmer. After the last few days, temperatures in the 50s feel balmy, even to somebody who was in Florida for two months.

Much like Brad Ausmus worked to find a start for Mike Aviles on Saturday, he did the same with Tyler Collins today. He’ll start in center field against Pirates lefty Jonathon Niese.

The Pirates bring back former Tigers outfielder Matt Joyce to DH against Justin Verlander, who went from gearing up to face the Yankees to prepping for the Pirates.

MLB Network is carrying the broadcast today for those of you outside of Detroit.

Gameday | TV: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB Network, MLB.TV | Radio: 97.1 FM, MLB Gameday Audio

tigerslogoTIGERS (career numbers against Niese)

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B (1-for-1, 2 walks)
  2. Justin Upton, LF (9-for-26, double, 3 walks, 4 K’s)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (1-for-3, double, K)
  4. Victor Martinez, DH
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF (1-for-2)
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  7. James McCann, C
  8. Tyler Collins, CF
  9. Jose Iglesias, SS

P: Justin Verlander

pirateslogoPIRATES (career numbers vs. Verlander)

  1. John Jaso, 1B (2-for-16, walk, 4 K’s)
  2. Andrew McCutchen, CF (3-for-15, 2 doubles, 4 walks, 3 K’s)
  3. Matt Joyce, DH (6-for-17, double, 2 HR, 2 walks, 6 K’s)
  4. Starling Marte, LF (2-for-3, triple)
  5. Francisco Cervelli, C (1-for-6, double, K)
  6. Gregory Polanco, RF (1-for-3, walk)
  7. Josh Harrison, 2B (2-for-10, K)
  8. Sean Rodriguez, 3B (2-for-7, 2 doubles, 2 K’s)
  9. Jordy Mercer, SS (2-for-3)

P: Jonathon Niese

Tigers-Yankees rained out, no makeup date yet

The wintry weather that marked the Tigers-Yankees series all weekend finally claimed a game. Sunday night’s series finale at Comerica Park was postponed due to a combination of rain and cold.

The two teams played Saturday with a 31-degree first-pitch temperature, the coldest in Comerica Park’s history. Though Sunday’s midday snow changed to evening rain downtown as temperatures warmed, the forecast called for no dry patch all evening. With the Tigers scheduled to face the Pirates here Monday afternoon, there was little benefit to waiting to postpone if the forecast wasn’t promising.

No makeup date was announced. Since this weekend was the Yankees’ only scheduled visit to Detroit, they’ll have to find a common off-day to make up the game. See the previous post for the complications involved with that.

More like Snowday [Rainy] Night Baseball?

The sight of snow outside as of midday Sunday was not exactly a sign of baseball weather. The forecast calls for that snow to change to rain as temperatures warm during the day and continue to warm in the evening. By warm, that means low 40s with winds at 10-15 mph. So while it won’t be frigid, it could still be miserable.

That leaves the Tigers with a decision to make, and MLB to provide some consultation. The trouble with the schedule wasn’t so much the Sunday night game — this would’ve been a mess at any time today — it was the Tigers opening their home schedule with a team that only makes one trip in this season. So if tonight’s game is postponed, the two sides will have to find a common off-day for the Yankees to come in and play a makeup game.

Surprisingly, the Tigers and Yankees are off on the same day just six times this season, and even those have complications. The Tigers are traveling from Houston to Kansas City April 18. Both teams are in the middle of road trips May 2. The Tigers are coming back from a West Coast trip June 2. The Yankees are between stops in Houston and Tampa Bay July 28. Both teams are on the road Sept. 19.

While the Yankees are in between KC and Baltimore on Sept. 1, the Tigers are traveling from Detroit to KC. Maybe they should just make up the game at Kauffman Stadium. Playing Sept. 1 in Detroit or anywhere would have the Yankees playing more than three weeks without an off-day, so players would have to approve.

If there’s any reason to wait a while and see if the weather improves, it’s that trickiness in scheduling a makeup game. The Yankees are off Monday before starting a series in Toronto Tuesday night, so they can wait. The Tigers don’t have to travel, but they start their series against the Pirates Monday afternoon, so they’d probably rather not wait too long.

Check back for updates.

Saturday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Yankees

Day off for Nick Castellanos after his four-hit game. Mike Aviles gets the start at third.

“He’s fine Really, it’s not a day off for him. It’s that Mike Aviles needs to play,” Brad Ausmus said. “You have to use the full roster. If you’re going to ask these guys to perform in big situations, they have to get some at-bats and some starts. Nick will be back in there tomorrow.”

Ausmus said he had Saturday in his mind as the day he wanted to play Aviles, 9-for-25 for his career against CC Sabathia. Castellanos’ perform threw a wrinkle into his plan, but he decided to stick with it.

“It certainly made me pause before I did it,” Ausmus said, “but you still have to do what I think is best in the long haul.”

The Yankees return A-Rod, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran to their lineup after a day of rest Friday.

tigerhitterlogoTIGERS (career numbers off Sabathia)

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B (8-for-31, 2 HR, 3 walks, 4 K’s)
  2. Justin Upton, LF
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B (11-for-37, 2 doubles, 3 HR, 8 walks, 4 K’s)
  4. Victor Martinez, DH (7-for-35, double, 2 HR, 3 walks, 5 K’s)
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF (1-for-3, K)
  6. James McCann, C (0-for-2)
  7. Jose Iglesias, SS (6-for-13, walk)
  8. Mike Aviles, 3B (9-for-25, 2 doubles, 3 K’s)
  9. Anthony Gose, CF

P: Mike Pelfrey

yankeeslogo2YANKEES

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF (2-for-6, double, K)
  2. Brett Gardner, LF (6-for-16, 3 K’s)
  3. Alex Rodriguez, DH (5-for-16, 2 walks, 4 K’s)
  4. Mark Teixeira, 1B (5-for-22, double, HR, walk, 3 K’s)
  5. Brian McCann, C (19-for-42, 8 doubles, 2 HR, 6 walks, 4 K’s)
  6. Carlos Beltran, RF (2-for-3, double)
  7. Starlin Castro, 2B (1-for-3)
  8. Didi Gregorius, SS (0-for-1)
  9. Ronald Torreyes, 3B

P: CC Sabathia

 

Putting Zimmermann’s debut in perspective

The Tigers’ home opener is an institution here. It’s also an honor for whoever gets to start the game. Until now, that has almost always gone to someone who has been here before.

The Tigers have had new pitchers start on Opening Day before. Kenny Rogers did it in 2006, and Jason Johnson did it in 2004. But both of those were on the road. But no pitcher in at least the last century had made his Tigers debut by starting the home opener.

Jordan Zimmermann broke the tradition. And then he topped it.

According to ESPN Stats and Information, the only previous Tigers pitcher to toss seven or more scoreless innings on two or fewer hits in his first game with the team was Dave Roberts, whom the Tigers had acquired in a seven-player trade with the Astros (they have a habit of those big trades with Houston) before the 1976 season. He tossed a complete-game two-hitter on April 17 of that year at the Angels.

Then came Zimmermann.

“I felt good,” he said. “I didn’t have my best stuff, but for the first start of the year at home, [it felt good] to give the fans something to celebrate.”

Zimmermann didn’t force Yankees hitters to pound the ball into the ground. In fact, he had more fly outs (seven) than groundouts (six).

He didn’t send them down hacking, either. He recorded just three strikeouts, and he had just five swings and misses his entire outing, according to MLB.com’s Gameday app.

His fastball wasn’t as hard today (average 91.4 mph) as he usually does (93.0 average last year, 93.5 career, according to Fangraphs), nor was he commanding it up to his expectation, according to his words. But with good secondary pitches — surprisingly good, given the cold weather and what you would expect would be a difficult grip on the ball — he worked.

He wasn’t squared up often. When he was, the conditions were quite forgiving.

“Fastball command wasn’t really there,” Zimmermann said. “I was hit-or-miss with that. I missed my fair share over the middle, and they didn’t barrel me up today. I got a little lucky in that department, but my offspeed was good and I could throw it wherever I wanted.”

Said Jacoby Ellsbury: “I thought he did a good job of getting his breaking ball over early after his first go-around. He really didn’t miss location. For his first outing in the cold, I thought he threw pretty well.”

He was the workhorse the Tigers wanted when they signed him. He doesn’t have to be perfect, but he’s also a very good pitcher when he isn’t. On Friday, he made a historically good first impression.

Home opener lineups: Tigers vs. Yankees

Pinch-hitter extraordinaire Victor Martinez gets to start today as the designated hitter. The tradeoff is that he’ll be starting under chilly conditions against hard-throwing Luis Severino, last seen by Tigers fans in a wild Spring Training outing that included a fastball that fractured Cameron Maybin’s wrist. Several Tigers regulars got a look at him that day, but the only one to face him in a regular-season game is Mike Aviles.

Gameday | TV: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV | Radio: 97.1 FM, MLB Gameday Audio

tigerslogoTIGERS

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

P: Jordan Zimmermann

yankeeslogoYANKEES (career numbers against Zimmermann)

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF (1-for-3)
  2. Brett Gardner, LF (1-for-3, K)
  3. Starlin Castro, 2B (5-for-25, double, triple, 3 K’s)
  4. Mark Teixeira, DH (0-for-6, 3 K’s)
  5. Dustin Ackley, 1B (2-for-3, triple)
  6. Chase Headley, 3B (4-for-22, 8 K’s)
  7. Didi Gregorius, SS (3-for-8, HR)
  8. Aaron Hicks, RF (0-for-3, K)
  9. Austin Romine, C

P: Luis Severino

Wednesday’s lineups: Tigers at Marlins

Jarrod Saltalamacchia caught Jose Fernandez in all eight of his starts in 2014 before Fernandez was shelved with an elbow injury.  Tonight, Saltalamacchia gets to face him.

“I know what he’s capable of doing when he’s not healthy and what he’s capable of doing when he’s healthy,” Saltalamacchia said. “He’s a good pitcher, throws hard obviously. He’s got good offspeed pitches that he can throw for strikes and obviously for chase. The key with him, I think, is just not trying to do too much. … You just have to take what he gives you.”

That’s the only major change in the Tigers lineup. The only other Tigers position player familiar with Fernandez is Justin Upton, and he’s 0-for-10 with seven strikeouts off him. The Marlins lineup remains the same.

Reminder: Tonight’s game is a Fox Sports Detroit Plus matchup with both the Pistons and Red Wings playing tonight.

Gameday | TV: FSD Plus, MLB.TV | Radio: 97.1 FM, MLB Gameday Audio

tigerslogo

TIGERS

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  2. Justin Upton, LF (0-for-10, 7 K’s vs. Fernandez)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  4. J.D. Martinez, RF
  5. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  6. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
  7. Jose Iglesias, SS
  8. Anthony Gose, CF
  9. Anibal Sanchez

marlins logoMARLINS (career numbers off Sanchez)

  1. Dee Gordon, 2B (2-for-3)
  2. Marcell Ozuna, CF
  3. Christian Yelich, LF (1-for-2, K)
  4. Giancarlo Stanton, RF (0-for-2, K)
  5. Martin Prado, 3B (14-for-34, double, HR, walk)
  6. Justin Bour, 1B
  7. J.T. Realmuto, C
  8. Adeiny Hechavarria, SS (0-for-4, 2 K’s)
  9. Jose Fernandez, P

K-Rod owns first blown save chance as a Tiger

Francisco Rodriguez wasn’t finishing his pitches, he said, and he paid for it. In that sense, his first opportunity as Tigers closer brought back memories of the bullpen struggles that led Detroit to acquire him last November.

His thoughts on his blown save Tuesday at Miami, on the other hand, were pretty well finished. In that sense, he made his struggles a little bit easier to take.

“It’s pretty obvious I got hit around pretty good,” Rodriguez said after the 8-7 win. “Every pitch was pretty much up over the middle of the zone.

“It was frustrating. You prepare yourself for 4 1/2, five months and the first time of the gate you get that. But hey, it’s behind. At the end of the day, we come back and win the ballgame. Just have to prepare for tomorrow.”

Rodriguez wasn’t missing the strike zone. He threw 14 of his 19 pitches for strikes, so he made hitters beat him. But in leaving pitches in the middle of the strike zone, he left pitches for them to hit.

“It’s disappointing,” he said. “Obviously I’m surprised. I don’t remember the last time I got knocked around like that, four base hits in a row. And they squared the ball pretty good. They weren’t like bloop singles, anything like that. You just have to turn the page now, get them tomorrow.”

Actually, the first two hits had some bloop qualities. A soft line drive leadoff single from Martin Prado and a J.T. Realmuto chopper that bounced over Andrew Romine’s head brought the tying run to the plate.

“I think the only pitch I made the entire night was the ball that bounced,” Rodriguez said. “That’s the only pitch that honestly I feel like I made out of 19 pitches.”

After Realmuto’s chopper, they weren’t bouncing. Justin Upton made a lunging catch at the fence, turning Adeiny Hechavarria’s line drive into a sac fly. One out away from closure, Rodriguez got a one-two combination that knocked him down. Derek Dietrich and Dee Gordon hit hard line-drive RBI doubles to tie the game.

“I didn’t make my pitches,” Rodriguez said. “I had four opportunities to make one pitch and I didn’t. Everything was up over the middle of the zone.”

His quotes consistently ended with the point that he’ll put the outing behind him and move on. But he won’t move on easily before thinking about it.

“Definitely it’s painful,” he said. “I’ll go out there now and go to sleep thinking about it. Honestly, I’m not going to be able to sleep. The game’s going to continue in the back of my head. But once the game starts tomorrow, everything has to be behind you.”

Opening Day lineups: Tigers at Marlins

As mentioned earlier in the series post, the Tigers hit Wei-Yin Chen pretty well during his Orioles days.

TIGERS (career numbers off Chen)

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

MARLINS (career numbers vs. Verlander)

  1. Dee Gordon, 2B (0-for-3, K)
  2. Marcell Ozuna, CF
  3. Christian Yelich, LF
  4. Giancarlo Stanton, RF (0-for-3, 3 K’s)
  5. Martin Prado, 3B (3-for-9, 2 doubles)
  6. Justin Bour, 1B
  7. J.T. Realmuto, C
  8. Adeiny Hechavarria, SS (1-for-5, K)
  9. Wei-Yin Chen, P
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