July 3, 2014 at 8:52 pm


Tigers' Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez have Brad Ausmus' blessing if they want to hit in derby

Detroit — He’s been asked to participate, but hasn’t decided if he will.

But if Miguel Cabrera agrees to hit in this year’s Home Run Derby on July 14, the night before the All-Star Game in Minneapolis, it’ll be fine with his manager Brad Ausmus.

That’s because Ausmus has every confidence Cabrera won’t change his swing in order to elevate the pitches thrown to him.

Ausmus also is of the opinion all the Derby would amount to, even if it goes multiple rounds for Cabrera, is “a couple of extra rounds of batting practice.”

The Tigers don’t always have a hitter in the Derby, but they’ve certainly been well represented lately.

The last two years it was Prince Fielder. Last season, at Citi Field in New York, he failed to get out of the first round.

In 2012 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, however, when it looked like he would do his slugging for many more years than just two as a Tiger, Fielder won the Derby — thumping Toronto’s Jose Bautista 12-7 in the finals while hitting 28 home runs overall.

Cabrera has competed once in the Derby as a Tiger and finished fourth. In 2010, he got out of the first round at Angel Stadium in Anaheim with seven home runs, but dropped to five in the second round while Boston’s David Ortiz and Florida’s Hanley Ramirez were hitting 13 and 12, respectively, in the second round.

Ortiz eventually won.

Cabrera also got out of the first round in 2006 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, when he was with the Marlins, and even though he hit the second most home runs in the second round, he did not advance because he had only the third highest total through two rounds.

But if it’s every four years that Cabrera hits in the Derby (2006, 2010), then perhaps the third time will be the charm — if, that is, this turns out to be his third time.

“I want Victor (Martinez) to do it,” Cabrera told MLB.com’s Jason Beck on Monday about whether he will participate or not.

“I have to see if I’m on the team,” said Martinez, who hit 20 home runs in the first half of a season for the first time this year.

Ausmus said, “it doesn’t bother me if they want to do it (hit in the Derby). I find it hard to believe that one round of batting practice is going to ruin your swing for the next three months.

“I guess if you advance, it’s a couple of rounds, and you can swing differently if you’re only trying to hit home runs, but I’m not concerned about it.”

Then again, he doesn’t speak from first-hand knowledge.

“Oddly enough,” he said, “I was never asked.”

Around the horn

Derby participant or not, Cabrera was presented with his 2013 Tiger of the Year Award on Thursday night, the fourth time he’s won the award presented by the Detroit chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

... Relief pitcher Ian Krol (left shouder inflammation) will join the Tigers’ West Michigan team on Friday to pitch twice in three days on an injury rehab assignment. Krol is eligible to be activated by the Tigers on Tuesday.

“He’ll pitch an inning on Friday for West Michigan,” said Ausmus, “and if he feels good on Saturday, he’ll throw another inning on Sunday.

“If everything goes according to plan, he’ll be activated (on Tuesday) for the Dodgers series.”

Ausmus said Krol will be pitching at the Single-A level instead of the Triple A level during his assignment because West Michigan will be in Fort Wayne for all three days while Toledo will be in Columbus two days, then Louisville for a day.

“We’d rather keep him in one spot instead of having travel all over the place,” Ausmus said.

... The Triple A All-Star Game will be played on July 16 in Durham, N.C. and two Toledo Mud Hens have been chosen for the International League roster: third baseman Mike Hessman and outfielder Ezequiel Carrera.



Rays at Tigers

First pitch: 7:08 Friday, Comerica Park, Detroit

TV/radio: ESPN, FSD/97.1

Scouting report

RHP Alex Cobb (3-6, 4.20), Rays: Has been erratic for more than a month. He is 2-5 with a 6.05 ERA his last seven starts and has allowed at least six runs in three of the seven.

LHP Drew Smyly (4-7, 3.57), Tigers: After four strong starts in a row, he didn’t throw well in Houston, allowing four runs on eight hits in 213 innings. The bad outing raised his ERA from 3.19 to 3.57.

Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera finished fourth in the Home Run Derby in 2010. / Elizabeth Conley / Detroit News