Arlington, Texas — Tigers left-hander Matthew Boyd was watching the opposing pitcher with a keener interest than normal Wednesday night.
That’s because the pitcher for the Rangers, left-hander Cole Hamels, represents a visual of the kind of pitcher Boyd aspires to be.
“Definitely,” Boyd said when asked if he’d be locked in to Hamels. “He’s someone I always watch. He’s a great pitcher and a guy who, when I was coming up, I definitely watched.”
Hamels is a four-time All-Star and a World Series MVP with 143 wins and 2,180 strikeouts over his 12 seasons. Boyd is still cutting his big-league teeth. But there are similarities. Both feature a diverse, multi-pitch repertoire with two different fastballs (four-seam and cutter for Hamels, four-seam and two-seam for Boyd), with an array of breaking balls and off-speed pitches.
They also shared a pitching coach. Rich Dubee worked with Hamels early in his career with the Phillies and now he’s mentoring Boyd.
“He introduced me to Hamels last year,” Boyd said. “That was pretty cool. We talked a little bit.”
Boyd is flattered by the comparison, but he understands he has a long way to go to before he gets to Hamels’ level.
“His repertoire is similar, so you try to compare yourself to guys you are similar to in that sense,” Boyd said. “You try to see how he attacks hitters, see how he uses all his stuff. You just try to learn from guys who are similar.”
Boyd said he’s studied another Dubee pupil, Cliff Lee, the same way.
“You want to see how they execute their pitches and attack guys,” he said. “You look for stuff you can take and put in your game to make it a little better.”
Boyd has had his next start pushed back to Tuesday, which will give him an eight-day break. Manager Brad Ausmus said Boyd would be available to work out of the bullpen this weekend against the Dodgers.
“Coming off my last start, it’s good (to have the extra days),” he said. “I will probably throw an extra bullpen. But, yeah, every day you get, there is a chance to get better. So, this is awesome.”
Justin Verlander talked after Tuesday’s 10-4 loss to the Rangers about the difficulty and necessity of staying motivated and professional during this last month and a half without being in the playoff race.
“It stinks,” he said. “It’s not a lot of fun. But it’s part of this game. I’ve been fortunate to be in the hunt for 10 of my 12 seasons here, at this point in the season. Hopefully that can continue.
“But for right now, do your job. We’re still professionals. We’re paid a lot of money top play this game. And I still take extreme pride in going out there and doing everything I can to help us win ballgames.”
Ausmus echoed that.
“Players have a job to do and that’s to play baseball the right way,” he said. “If they don’t do it the right way, someone is going to take their spot. It’s as simple as that. That should be motivation.
“These guys have too much pride. They are here because they have pride in what they do and they are good at it. That pride doesn’t go away just because the team isn’t doing well. They still want to win.”
Outfield on hold?
Most likely, the bulk of Nick Castellanos’ transition to right field will take place next spring. He's had two short workouts in right field since the Tigers announced that he would be getting some work there last week.
“I’m the team’s third baseman,” Castellanos said Wednesday. “I told them if it helps in the future to be more versatile, whatever they want to do, that’s what I am open to, if it helps us. But it’s not like I’ve got to be in right field by any certain date.”
Ausmus said the full transition would most likely happen through the seven weeks of spring training.
“I’m not focused on trying to learn how to play a new position with a month and a half left in the season.”
Presley vs. lefties
Tigers right fielder Alex Presley, a left-handed hitter, got his second start against a left-handed pitcher in three nights.
“He has good at-bats against lefties,” Ausmus said. “And he’s been swinging the bat well.”
Over his career, Presley has hit .272 against left-handers and .255 against right-handers — though almost all of his power has been against righties (25 of his 27 homers).
“You just don’t try to do as much,” Presley said of his approach against lefties. “You’ve got to stick to the game plan to be successful. You have to be a little more choosy with what you swing at. But I feel pretty comfortable against most lefties.”
Around the horn
Wednesday marked the Tigers’ 20th straight game without an off-day, their longest stretch of the season. The day off Thursday is their first since July 27. They started 6-2 on this streak and then went 2-9 since Aug. 5.
… Left-hander Daniel Norris made a rehab start in Toledo Wednesday night. He threw 46 pitches in two innings, and allowed four runs and six hits with one strikeout.
He will make three rehab starts. The next two will be Aug. 21 and Aug. 28.