Detroit Tigers
After reaching 600 HRs, Pujols moves on to face Tigers (Jun 06, 2017)
Detroit Tigers

After reaching 600 HRs, Pujols moves on to face Tigers (Jun 06, 2017)

Published Jun. 5, 2017 8:03 p.m. ET

DETROIT -- If Miguel Cabrera wants a peek at the future, he might look at Albert Pujols.

Pujols and the Los Angeles Angels are coming to Detroit for a three-game series beginning Tuesday night, but he won't be bringing the circus with him.

The Angels' first baseman/designated hitter collected his 600th home run Sunday and so the hoopla aspect of his run up hitting lists will await his next milestone.

The 34-year-old Cabrera, three years younger than his Los Angeles counterpart, brings 451 home runs into the series and isn't far from Pujols' tracks despite taking a slightly different path.


Former Angel Tim Salmon made some comments to the Los Angeles Daily News during the weekend that sound similar to remarks that have been made about Cabrera as he has gotten off to relatively modest starts the past couple of seasons.

"Everybody gets down on him because he's not the 45-home run guy any more, but he's still 30 (homers) and 100 (RBIs)," Salmon said of Pujols. "Go out and get that on the free agent market. Those are the things I want to focus on. What he's doing at his age is really impressive. It's unfortunate that in our day and age, the focus is on what he used to be."

Pujols is hitting .248 with nine home runs and 42 RBIs. Cabrera is batting .274 with five home runs and 26 RBIs.

"It's never easy, this game," Pujols said. "Obviously, you have your ups and downs. You just need to fight every day with what you've got.

"Sometimes you come here with 50 percent, and you have to give 100 percent of the 50 percent you feel. Sometimes you feel 90 percent. You never feel 100 percent. When you show up to spring training, you feel sore the next day."

The absence of Mike Trout, out for a month after left thumb surgery, means Pujols will get pitched around even more than usual. Cabrera faces that problem to a lesser degree as he has Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez batting in back of him.

There's some uncertainty concerning the pitchers that Detroit will be starting this week. Sending left-hander Matthew Boyd back to the minors created a vacancy that was filled in the short term by southpaw reliever Daniel Stumpf.

Added to that was the strained right groin that took right-hander Justin Verlander out of Sunday's game two batters into the third inning.

Left-hander Daniel Norris (2-3, 4.47 ERA) will pitch Tuesday for the Tigers and the Angels will counter with right-hander Jesse Chavez (4-5, 4.68).

Chavez didn't pitch when Detroit visited Los Angeles earlier this year and is winless in four decisions against the Tigers in his career. He has pitched 13 times against Detroit, starting three, with a 6.25 ERA for 31 2/3 innings.

Chavez had a sparkling outing against the Tigers with the Oakland A's in 2015, allowing one run in eight innings. He currently has not allowed Detroit an earned run in his last 11 2/3 innings.

Norris pitched against the Angels earlier this year but did not get a decision in a May 13 game. He gave up seven hits, two walks and two earned runs in 5 2/3 innings.

Norris has been reaching 100 pitches about the fifth inning most of the time but was better in his two most recent outings. Tuesday's start will mark his second career appearance against Los Angeles.

An MRI on Verlander's right groin showed no structural damage, but Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said he won't put a date his ace's next start until after he throws a bullpen to test it, which will come when the tenderness in the groin is gone.

"He didn't want to come out," Ausmus said, "but I didn't want him to be protecting his groin and then have something else be affected, like his shoulder."

Right-hander Michael Fulmer is probable to pitch Wednesday, but even that is in flux depending upon when Verlander gets slotted back.

There are two candidates to take Boyd's rotation spot -- right-handers Buck Farmer and Drew VerHagen.

Farmer struck out 11 in 6 1/3 innings of three-hit ball in an emergency start May 27. VerHagen has a string of 16 1/3 scoreless innings for Triple-A Toledo. One or both could come up to start.

Farmer would be working on normal rest were he to be called up to pitch Wednesday, which would let Ausmus give Fulmer an extra day off.

Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann is slated to pitch Friday's opener in Boston. But if Ausmus doesn't think Verlander is ready to pitch by Saturday, he could send Farmer back and bring VerHagen up to start.

Detroit was expected to activate catcher James McCann (left hand laceration) and second baseman Ian Kinsler from the 10-day disabled list.

It is likely the Tigers will reluctantly return catcher/first baseman John Hicks, who has hit well during his callup, back to Toledo along with center fielder JaCoby Jones, who is showing he still isn't ready to hit in the major leagues.


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