Tigers pitcher Zach Miner to undergo Tommy John surgery

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Lynn Henning
The Detroit News

Seattle — Zach Miner got the word Wednesday that he and the Tigers had feared, and probably anticipated.

He will have Tommy John (ligament reconstruction) surgery Friday on his right elbow and will be lost for the season. The surgery will be performed by well-known orthopedic specialist Dr. Lewis Yocum.

Miner, 28, began having problems with his throwing elbow during spring training. He went on the disabled list March 26 and was not, at that point, believed to be facing any serious setback.

But the problems lingered and earlier this month Miner had a setback as he did rehabilitation work at the team’s Tigertown complex in Lakeland, Fla.

He flew to Los Angeles for Wednesday’s examination by Yocum, who determined surgery was the only option for a right-hander who had been one of the team’s steadiest relievers and spot-starters since he joined the team in 2005.

The general recovery time for Tommy John surgery is one year. Miner is not signed beyond this season, although he will remain Tigers property until he comes off the disabled list, at which point his roster situation will be determined.

No change

Leyland had a rested bullpen. He had Phil Coke and Joel Zumaya warming up.

And yet he chose to keep Ryan Perry on the mound in the four-run eighth inning rally that turned a 4-1 Tigers lead into a 5-4 Mariners victory Wednesday.

Leyland said he kept Perry in the game because of his faith in a reliever who had been all but invincible this month, and because the Mariners had right-handed batters stacked in their order, even after Perry had gotten into trouble.

Perry allowed a leadoff single to Franklin Gutierrez and a one-out, two-run home run to Mike Sweeney to make it 4-3. He then gave up a single to Jose Lopez, after which Leyland walked to the mound to tell Perry:

“Look, you’re fine. Get the next hitter.”

But he didn’t. Rob Johnson blasted a double off the top of the left-field fence to put runners at second and third. Still, no pitching change. Josh Wilson finished off Perry, and the Tigers, with a two-run single to left.

“He just didn’t have it today,” said Leyland, who believed to the end Perry would prove otherwise.

Evil spirits

Ryan Raburn did something to offend baseball’s gods. He hit two 400-foot fly-outs Wednesday, the second coming on a 14-pitch at-bat against Mariners starter Jason Vargas.

Raburn’s personal insignia, if he had one, would likely not be a four-leaf clover. He has likely hit more line drives and deep fly balls that have ended up in gloves than any batter on the Tigers roster.

“When it rains it pours,” said Raburn, who started at first base, in place of Miguel Cabrera, who was excused for his baby’s birth. “It gets frustrating when there are two balls you can’t hit any better than you did.”

Raburn, who returned last weekend from a 10-day stint at Triple-A Toledo, shrugged and said: “But when things go good it doesn’t seem like anything can go wrong.”

And the winner is?

That will be determined this autumn, when the American League rookie of the year award is bestowed upon somebody whose big-league debut season was a grand success.

The Tigers not only could have one of their own win it. They have a virtual two-horse race to themselves as May’s days dwindle.

Austin Jackson has an edge because of his excellent numbers, his play in center field, and his role as a leadoff batter who has taken on enormous responsibility in 2010 and handled it superbly.

Brennan Boesch has been a hitting machine since he arrived a month ago. With a single and a double in Wednesday’s 5-4 loss to the Mariners, he leads all AL newcomers with a .343 average and 22 RBIs. He’s tied for the lead in homers with four, and second with 35 hits.

Jackson was 2-for-5 on Wednesday, and leads all AL rookies — by more than twice as many — in hits (62) and runs (33).

Olympic-grade

Boesch was sure to have made ESPN’s Wednesday night highlights after his first-inning catch of Ichiro Suzuki’s fly ball into the left-field corner.

Boesch chased the ball at full speed until he finally ran out of room, a message conveyed when Boesch crashed and tumbled over the wall separating seats from the playing field. He landed on his back, against some seats, and still hung onto the ball.

“Just a bruise on my upper back,” said Boesch, who could have been seriously hurt. “It was well worth it.

“I knew I was going over it. When you run that far, you know it’s there.

“I think I’m lucky. Everett (Adam, Tigers shortstop) said I was close to bonking my head on a post.”

Colorful player

It looked as if someone had hung on the back of Rick Porcello’s leg an art piece. Something evoking the colors and angles Picasso might have crafted.

But it was the product instead of what a baseball had done to Porcello.

A line drive that bounced off Porcello’s leg during Sunday’s game against the Dodgers left him with a garish bruise of okra, black, blue, and yellow. It was the size of a paperback book.

“I guess I didn’t put the ball in the right spot,” said Porcello, speaking of the pitch that turned his leg into a gallery piece.

Artwork aside, he will make his scheduled start Saturday against the Athletics at Comerica Park.

Think pink

Cabrera’s trip home was just in time. His wife, Rosangel, gave birth Tuesday to their second daughter, Isabella.

Cabrera left the team after Sunday’s game in Los Angeles to be with his wife who was expected to deliver Tuesday, and who followed the script happily.

Last Updated: May 27. 2010 1:00AM