First pitch: Cabrera in lineup after missing four games
By STEVE KORNACKI
DETROIT – Miguel Cabrera went through a series of tests with
Tigers head athletic trainer Kevin Rand about three hours before game time and
is back in the starting lineup Saturday night. He is batting third and playing third
base rather than easing back in as a designated hitter.
Cabrera missed four consecutive games with a sore left hip,
and Tigers manager Jim Leyland has been delaying his decisions on whether to play Cabrera until he’s evaluated before games. This time, he passed the
test administered by Rand.
Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis has overtaken Cabrera with 97 RBI to Cabrera’s 96, and Davis has a 37-31 homer lead on Cabrera.
Using Cabrera as a designated hitter is not an easy decision because Victor Martinez has been hot in that role, and moving him to first base
would force Prince Fielder out of the lineup – which isn’t going to happen.
TORII’S BACK: Tigers right fielder Torii Hunter was back in the starting lineup Saturday after sitting
out Friday’s game with a sore left Achilles, he and felt fortunate to be
back after missing only one game. Achilles injuries can be difficult to recover
“I’m thankful it wasn’t nothing too serious,” Hunter said
before Saturday’s game with the Philadelphia Phillies. “Yesterday and today
were totally different; I’m glad I gave it another day to heal ... It’s good – it’s
definitely good enough to play.”
Hunter showed discomfort in his fourth at-bat Thursday
against the White Sox in Chicago and came out of the game. He blamed the
injury on some new dress shoes but did hit a two-run homer off Jake Peavy
before coming out.
He’s been one of the American League’s most productive
hitters in July. Hunter is batting .349 (seventh in the league) with six
homers, 18 RBI (second) and 17 runs scored (third) this month.
A LONG-RUNNING FRIENDSHIP: Leyland, 68, and Phillies manager Charlie
Manuel, 69, have managed 5,280 major league games combined. But their
friendship goes back to nearly 40 years ago, when both were minor league
Manuel wasn’t sure if they first met in 1964, when he was a power-hitting
left fielder with Orlando of the Florida State League and Leyland was a defensive
catcher for Lakeland, or in 1966, when Leyland was with Rocky Mount and Manuel
played for Wilson in the Carolina League.
“Leyland was a little, skinny guy,” said Manuel, who was
6-foot-4 and 195 pounds as a player. “He had a good arm and was a good
A smile creased Manuel’s face talking about Leyland.
“He’s a baseball guy,” Manuel said. “He’s a baseball rat. I
guarantee you he smokes 10 packs of cigarettes, and his wife probably sends him
to another room when he loses. He’s a character – yeah, Leyland’s a character.
He’s a good manager and good for the game.”
Leyland also cherishes his long friendship with the folksy
“I first got to know him as an opponent,” Leyland said. “He’s
a very good person. He’s a very good baseball guy. And he’s very knowledgeable
about hitting. And we’re from the same era.”
Leyland has 1,733 wins in the majors, and Manuel has 996
while managing the Cleveland Indians (2000-02) and the Phillies since 2005. Both
have won one World Series -- Leyland with the 1997 Florida Marlins and Manuel
with the 2008 Phillies.
Leyland said second baseman Omar Infante's ankle sprain remained "status quo," with Infante not close to returning after aggravating the
injury Thursday on a rehabilitation assignment while fielding a grounder in a
West Michigan game.
Left-handed reliever Darin Downs’ rehab was moved from West
Michigan to Toledo, but Leyland said he was unsure whether one more outing would be
enough for Downs to return to the Detroit roster.
BULLPEN UPDATE: Leyland said all seven relievers are
available Saturday night.
NOTES: Tigers catcher
Alex Avila is batting .583 (7-for-12) with runners in scoring position this
Saturday night, starting pitcher Max Scherzer was celebrating his 29th