Detroit — Somewhere, Kenny Rogers was tsk-tsking his disapproval with Warwick Saupold.
Although it was a terrific athletic play, and quite likely the only chance Saupold had of getting the out at first base against the White Sox on Sunday, Rogers had advised Saupold not to do it like that.
In the fourth inning Sunday, with a runner on first, two outs and the dangerous Avisail Garcia on deck, Jose Abreu hit a swinging bunt in no man's land between home and third base.
Saupold flew off the mound and retrieved the ball with a slide. In the same motion, he was able to pop up, plant his back foot and throw a bullet to first base to get Abreu.
“I try to avoid that,” Saupold said. “That one, I felt like if I try to pick up the ball and stop, I’m not going to have anything on the throw. If I slide, I can push off my back foot and throw.”
Rogers, a five-time Gold Glove-winning pitcher who for several years spent time working with the Tigers’ pitchers on pick-off moves and defense during spring training, advised Saupold to abandon the slide.
“I always tried to do that (slide) on that side of the field, just because I feel like it’s quicker,” Saupold said. “Kenny Rogers told me it’s not quicker, so I tried to avoid doing that for a while. But, then, I just felt comfortable doing it
“Kenny was a really good fielder. I tried to stay up on those plays for a while, but I’ve gone back to my own way. It’s just my instinct to slide like that.”
Saupold has been an innings-eating marvel in the Tigers’ bullpen. Since being called back up from Triple-A Toledo on May 22, he’s pitched nine scoreless innings (including four on Sunday) in three outings with eight strikeouts.
The Tigers won’t know the status of Justin Verlander’s right groin strain until after he throws a bullpen session — which could Wednesday or Thursday.
“He said he felt sore yesterday, but a lot better today,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “But until we test it out (in a bullpen session), I can’t tell you anything definitive. When he throws the bullpen, that’s when we can see if there is irritation, pain, tightness. Then we can make a decision.”
The MRI Verlander took on Monday was negative — it showed no structural damage. If he stays on turn, which is what the club is anticipating, he would start Saturday in Boston.
Jones sent back
Center fielder JaCoby Jones’ second stint with the club was brief. He batted five times, and struck out in three of them.
He was sent back to Toledo Tuesday to clear a spot for Ian Kinsler.
“He just needs to go play,” Ausmus said. “There’s no secret there. He didn’t play enough up here to fall into any bad habits this time. He just needs to play.”
Hitting coach Lloyd McClendon worked to get Jones to choke up some on the bat and shorten his swing, especially with two strikes. He has stuck out 27 times in 51 at-bats in his two stints with the Tigers.
“He and Mac worked on some things,” Ausmus said. “Just trying to get him to make more contact. Hopefully, he can continue to work on those things down there.”
Outfielder Jim Adduci, eventually, will be heading back to Toledo on a rehab assignment. But that may be another week or more.
“Everything is progressing, slowly,” said Adduci, who has been on the DL since May 11 with an oblique strain.
Adduci has begun hitting in the cage and will soon begin taking live batting practice on the field. He has been throwing for a couple of weeks, but he has yet to track fly balls in the outfield.
“There is still some general soreness,” he said. “You just try to work through it. It’s coming along.”
Around the horn
J.D. Martinez has hit 10 home runs in his first 22 games this season. Apparently, it’s not a unique feat. The Brewers' Eric Thames (10 homers in 19 games), Yankees' Aaron Judge (10 in 21), Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman (10 in 22) have also done the trick. Nobody has hit more home runs than Martinez since May 12, however.