Kansas City, Missouri – On the other side of the All-Star break – next Friday, in other words, when play resumes – there will be an entirely different feeling to what remains of the regular season.
For one thing, there will be only 71 Tigers games remaining. The season will be 10 games past the halfway point.
Manager Brad Ausmus will start paying much more attention to the standings.
“I definitely will,” he said. “Now, I might take a cursory look every once in a while. But if we keep our house in order, everything should work out fine.”
Victor Martinez will be back in the lineup. That’s the plan, anyway.
And Ausmus will have long since picked himself up from where he watched most of Friday night’s 2-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals – which happened to be his office floor.
Feeling sick, Ausmus removed himself from the Tigers’ dugout around the second inning on Friday night – just before the Tigers scored the third-inning run on Miguel Cabrera’s sacrifice fly that held up as the difference in the game at Kauffman Stadium.
“I just put a towel down and watched from the floor in here,” Ausmus said during Saturday’s pre-game media session in his office.
What made him sick? He doesn’t know for sure, but suspects an apple he ate that had been next to a moldy orange.
“I felt better this morning,” Ausmus said, “and it’s gotten better during the day.”
Still not better enough for him to be back in the lineup, however, was Martinez’s sore right side. The Tigers have been able to withstand Martinez’s absence because they’ve been winning, but they’re not about to continue testing their ability to play without him on the other side of the break.
Ausmus said Saturday he expects Martinez back in the lineup when play resumes on Friday with the start of a four-game series at Comerica Park against Cleveland.
It’ll be a four-game series in three days, actually, because of a make-up game as part of a split doubleheader next Saturday.
Martinez, who was replaced on the American League’s All-Star roster by teammate Ian Kinsler on Friday night, will travel to Minneapolis after Sunday’s game to attend the All-Star Game, but won’t take part in any baseball activity.
As for expecting Martinez back on Friday, “Right now we are,” said Ausmus. “He felt fine doing some upper-body exercises on Friday and we’re hoping he also feels fine after (the next session of them).
“If he is, the next step will be taking some swings off a tee or soft-toss on Sunday.”
But Martinez won’t do even that while he’s in Minneapolis for the All-Star Game.
“We don’t want him doing anything unauthorized,” said Ausmus. “He’s going to Minneapolis for two days, then coming back to Detroit.
“The assumption is that he will be able to play after that break, but that could change.”
It’s almost obligatory for Ausmus to say “that could change” – what with caution being the byword with Martinez lately.
The Tigers want him 100 percent when he plays again.
And they think that will be on Friday.
But they’re still not going to etch it in stone.
Around the horn
With Saturday night's win, Rick Porcello improved to 8-2 with a 2.91 ERA in 10 road starts.
... With two more double-plays coming off his pitches, he's now induced 19 GIDPs for the season.
... Austin Jackson has reached base safely in nine of his last 10 games. He's hitting .349 with five doubles in those 10 games.
... Ausmus had a good night, too. Not only did he feel better, but he won a challenge in the ninth at first base that reversed an out call on Nick Castellanos and led to a runner being on base when Avila hit his home run.
Tigers at Royals
First pitch: 2:10 p.m. Sunday, Kauffman Stadium.
TV/radio: FSD/1270-AM and 97.1-FM.
Probables: RHP Justin Verlander (8-7, 4.84) vs. LHP Bruce Chen (1-2, 7.11).
Verlander, Tigers: Has won two starts in a row for the first time since April, but since the last time he did it, he’s just 5-6 with a 5.82 ERA in 14 starts.
Chen, Royals: Starting in place of Jason Vargas, who’s on the disabled list because of an appendectomy. Bulging disc made Chen miss two months.