Tigers Notes: Ray expects to be nervous for debut
MAY 05, 2014 5:57p ET
DETROIT -- Robbie Ray rarely appears nervous, but he's likely to be at least a little bit Tuesday night.
Ray, 22, will make his major-league debut, against the Houston Astros at Comerica Park.
"It's still baseball," Ray said Monday afternoon in the Tigers' clubhouse. "I'm going to try to stay calm. Hitters are still hitters. They just hit more mistakes.
"I'll be a little nervous in the first inning, but hopefully I can settle down."
“I'll be a little nervous in the first inning, but hopefully I can settle down.”
The Tigers acquired Ray, reliever Ian Krol and utility infielder Steve Lombardozzi in a trade that sent Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals.
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus mentioned Ray's fastball several times during spring training.
"Sneaky fastball," Ausmus said. "It plays up on the radar gun, and he seems calm on the mound. He doesn't seem overwhelmed.
"He might be churning inside. He doesn't show it."
Ray has had a good start to the season with the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens, going 3-2 with a 1.53 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. He has 21 strikeouts and five walks.
"Probably just being able to command my off-speed, in the strike zone," Ray said. "I've always been able to throw it, but not necessarily when I needed to throw it for a strike. That was big for me this year."
Ray said he was actually at a Macy's in Syracuse shopping for a new suitcase when he got the call from Toledo manager Larry Parrish.
"I saw it was a Georgia number," Ray said. "He said, 'If you ever see it's a Georgia number, you better answer it.' So I answered it, and he told me I was coming to Detroit."
Ray was asked if he bought a better suitcase when he found out he was heading to the big leagues.
"I did," Ray said. "I got one that could fit my suit in it."
Now Ray would like to show the Tigers that he fits in with them.
The Tigers have some colorful characters in their clubhouse, but these days, they're all colorful.
The players are all wearing Zubaz pants in Tigers colors around the clubhouse, a trend that took root when they were in Minnesota.
"I had these old ones and I wore them all week and we've been winning, so we decided to get everybody a pair," Torii Hunter said. "These started something special in Minnesota.
"Joe (Nathan) had them. He wouldn't wear them, so I took them and just put them on, walked around the clubhouse. Now everybody wants them."
Thanks to Joba Chamberlain, everyone now has them.
"Joba knew a guy that had some dealings with Zubaz," Hunter said. "We just got them together and everybody's wearing them in the clubhouse, just for fun.
"This is something for us in the clubhouse. It's not to put out there on public display. It's a lot of fun. It brings chemistry, camaraderie to the ball club."
Ausmus, who was also given a pair, loved the idea.
"It may be one of the most important things in baseball, stuff like that in the clubhouse," Ausmus said. "Whether it's the team going to eat together or Joba buying Zubaz for everyone in the clubhouse, it makes it more fun.
"Baseball is a game, but it can become a job at times over the course of a long season and things like that break it up."
Of course, Ausmus and Hunter remember when Zubaz were originally the thing to wear.
"For the guys in the clubhouse, this is retro wear," Ausmus said. "But for me, I actually wore them, I think, when I was about in eighth grade."
Said Hunter: "I think I wore these after I did a leg workout in the '80s. When I was lifting weights and working out, we would wear Zubaz."
Coincidentally, the Tigers are celebrating the fourth annual Zubazpalooza at Firday's Tigers-Twins game by offering a special ticket package for stripe-enthusiasts.
Luke Putkonen, who has been on the 15-day disabled list since April 19 with right elbow inflammation, is starting to make progress toward a return to action.
Ausmus said Putkonen was going to throw a bit on Monday.
"Assuming he goes out and tosses and feels fine, he'll go to West Michigan on Wednesday and throw an inning there and then we'll see how it goes and move on," Ausmus said. "If everything goes well, he'll probably have another rehab stint."
Ausmus said Putkonen would probably not do his rehab stint in West Michigan.