Detroit — There’s never a good time for the injury bug to bite, and it doesn’t get picky about which players it chooses.
The Tigers got a double dose on Saturday night, taking out the whole right side of their starting infield. First baseman Miguel Cabrera (back soreness) and second baseman Ian Kinsler (wrist) were recovering from injuries and out for Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park.
Cabrera has had back issues on his left side since the World Baseball Classic but has played through them this season. Cabrera left Saturday night’s game because of a new issue — soreness on the right side of his back — and his status is day-to-day.
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said during his pregame media session that he hadn’t talked with Cabrera yet about his condition, but his inclination was to give Cabrera the day off.
“I think Miggy probably needs a day, but we’ll see,” Ausmus said Sunday morning. “If he comes in and says (he’s fine), it’s completely better and wants to play (then he’ll play).
“He’d have to say he doesn’t feel anything and he really feels like he can play.”
That apparently didn’t happen.
After Cabrera voluntarily removed himself from Saturday’s game, it’s unclear whether he might miss additional games, as the Tigers depart for a three-game series beginning Monday at Texas.
In Cabrera’s absence, John Hicks started at first base on Sunday.
The outlook on Kinsler’s injury was a little more encouraging. Although Ausmus didn’t have a definitive status on Kinsler’s hand, which was injured after he was hit on the left hand by a pitch Saturday, he said Kinsler didn’t have any X-rays, but there was some swelling.
After spending a year recovering from an injury, pitcher Jeff Ferrell is back with the Tigers. He was called up from Triple-A Toledo on Sunday and pitcher Edward Mujica was designated for assignment.
Ferrell, 26, was excited to get the news that he was returning to the Tigers for the first time since 2015, when he played five games. He pitched well for the Mud Hens this season, with a 2-1 record and 2.51 ERA in 41 games.
“It’s been good, just throwing strikes and trying to keep the ball down in the zone mostly,” Ferrell said Sunday. “Mix it up a bit and trying to add a little slider to what I’ve been throwing.”
Ferrell said he had thrown a slider for most of his early career, but when the injuries started to pile up, he ditched the pitch in favor of just a fastball and change-up. He later added a curveball but when he lost the feel for that, he went back to the slider. He isn’t having any issues now, but just is glad to have another chance with the Tigers.
“I wanted to come back here. They’ve been with me the whole time and gave me a chance and the year before that,” he said. “I wanted to come back here and get healthy and show them I was good to go again.”
Aside from Justin Upton’s walk-off home run on Saturday night, another highlight was Shane Greene’s solid performance in the top half of the ninth, striking out Miguel Sano to end the Twins’ threat of padding the lead. Greene kept things close and has taken to the role of closer, which he assumed after Justin Wilson was traded at the deadline.
After he’d done his job, he was amped up for Upton’s game-winner.
“It’s a lot of fun; walk-offs never get old, especially when (Upton) is the guy that does it,” Greene said. “He’s one of the best walk-offs in the league.”
Upton’s home run was a no-doubter, but Greene helped pump things up even before Mikie Mahtook singled, setting up the dramatics for Upton.
“I walked by him and Mikie before that half-inning and said, ‘Let’s walk these guys off — and they did it.’”
ON DECK: RANGERS
Series: Three games, Monday-Wednesday, Globe Life Park, Arlington, Texas.
First pitch: All three games at 8:05 p.m.
TV/radio: All three games on FSD/97.1 FM
Series probables: Monday: RHP Michael Fulmer (10-9, 3.59) vs. LHP Martin Perez (6-10, 5.18); Tuesday: RHP Justin Verlander (8-7, 3.97) vs. RHP A.J. Griffin (5-3, 5.40); Wednesday: RHP Anibal Sanchez (3-3, 6.69) vs. LHP Cole Hamels (7-1, 3.31)
Fulmer, Tigers: The All-Star will be making his first start after a stint on the 10-day disabled list because of ulnar neuritis. After a streak of four wins in his last four starts, Fulmer has lost three straight, including a season-high six earned runs in his last outing, against the Yankees.
Perez, Rangers: He had his best performance of the season in his last outing, going eight innings and giving up just one run on three hits in a win over the Mets last week, snapping a string of four consecutive losses.