Optimism for majority of injured Tigers

Optimism for majority of injured Tigers

Published Jun. 5, 2012 7:54 p.m. ET

DETROIT – Perhaps the off day was just what the doctor ordered for some of the Tigers' walking wounded.

Manager Jim Leyland was worried about Joaquin Benoit after Saturday night's game when he ended up throwing a pitch to the screen after a late call for time and felt tightness in his right forearm.

"I think it was just because I tried to stop the pitch instead of just throwing it," Benoit said. "But the next day I felt way better. It was just normal soreness and now I feel good."

Fortunately, Benoit was not injured and Leyland said he was ready to go Tuesday.

Benoit said he was relieved that he was not hurt, especially considering the way the team has been hit with injuries of late.

"It's always a good thing when you think something is wrong and it ends up being nothing," Benoit said.

Although Austin Jackson, Andy Dirks and Doug Fister are all on the 15-day disabled list, Leyland sounded optimistic before Tuesday night's game.

"We’re getting pretty good news on all those guys," Leyland said. "I don’t think it’ll be too long."

Jackson took batting practice with the team Tuesday.

However, it seems there's always something with the Tigers this season and Tuesday was no exception.

"Donnie Kelly had a fever, throwing up all day, so we’ve just had one issue after another," said Leyland, who wasn't sure if Kelly would stay home. "Sometimes, that’s one where you concern yourself a little bit, because you don’t want it to spread throughout the club. That stuff can spread like wild-fire."

Leyland said Matt Young was going to be playing left field and batting second even if Kelly had been fully healthy.

Martinez back in town

Victor Martinez was a welcome sight in the Tigers clubhouse Tuesday as he played catch with Prince Fielder's sons, Jadyn and Haven.

Martinez also joined his teammates on the field as they took batting practice.

Although Martinez is not quite ready for batting practice himself, he is doing a lot more on his surgically repaired left knee than he was the last time he was in town.

"I feel walking really good," Martinez said. "Sometimes I feel like running, but not quite. I have to wait. I’ve been doing a lot of stuff – exercises in the pool. They get you tired. And, then at the same time, doing the leg stands."

Martinez said he hasn't had any pain since he started doing his rehabilitation exercises.

The next step will be for Martinez to return to Colorado June 28th for another evaluation of his progress.

"Now, this time, they’re going to do the MRI," Martinez said. "That’s the one that’s going to dictate when I’m ready start running. We’ll see, maybe September is in the picture."

The one silver lining to Martinez's injury is that it has allowed him to spend more time with his family in Orlando.

"That’s been one of the greatest things to happen after this," Martinez said. "Spend time with the family and get to see the kids doing their stuff. My daughter is doing her cheerleading thing now. They keep me a little bit and it’s a distraction at the same time."

However, it's not been much of a distraction when he tries to watch the Tigers play on television.

"I watch a game and then I start grabbing bats in my house," Martinez said. "It’s frustrating. It’s hard to watch them. You want to be a part of it for sure. Watching your teammates play hard everyday and not being able to be with your teammates is tough."

Martinez can't grab a bat and take swings against Cleveland Indians pitching during this series but he hopes to still be a positive presence for the Tigers.

"At least, I can practice some of the cheerleading," Martinez said. "It’s always good to be here. Always good to be here in the clubhouse and the dugout. At least give your teammates some inspiration or something."

Defending McClendon

Hitting coach Lloyd McClendon has come under fire from fans because not everyone in the Tigers lineup has been hitting well.

While Miguel Cabrera is batting .318 with 11 home runs and 44 RBIs and Prince Fielder is batting .319 with nine hone runs and 35 RBIs, Alex Avila is off his All-Star pace of 2011 at .254, Jhonny Peralta is off his All-Star pace at .247 and Brennan Boesch is struggling at .229.

"Lloyd McClendon’s an outstanding hitting coach," Leyland said. "He’s the same hitting coach he was last year when guys were having career years. Hitting coach is the worst job in the world ... for a couple reasons: No. 1, hitting is the hardest thing to do in any sport. So that makes the hitting coach’s job real difficult to start with. Second of all, do you give them enough information, too much information? I mean, players have to do it. And I’m not being negative about our players at all, because I don’t mean it that way.

"Everybody wants to change, the minute something doesn’t go right, they want a
change. If you’d have talked to the people about Lloyd McClendon as a hitting coach last
year, and you would’ve had a poll, they would’ve probably said give him a five-year contract."

Leyland said the fact that the highly touted Tigers are just 25-29 at this point rests on his shoulders.

"It’s my responsibility to get the team clicking, and we haven’t got it clicking. And I scratch my head," Leyland said. "I know there are several reasons why. If you look at numbers, it explains some things. But I’m still responsible for that. So you gotta take your heat. I don’t have any problem with that."