J.D. Martinez sees likeable side of White Sox's Sale
Detroit — J.D. Martinez didn't immediately know what to think when he got to the American League All-Star team's clubhouse in Cincinnati and saw that his locker neighbor was White Sox pitcher Chris Sale.
In all the battles the Tigers have had with Sale and the White Sox, his outsider's impression was that he was kind of a jerk.
"Pretty much, though I used another word for it," he said, laughing. "It was cool, though."
Turns out, he misjudged Sale completely.
"I mean, I was kind of shocked," Martinez said. "We face him all the time, so I always thought he was just like one of those persons you don't really want to talk to. Doesn't look like a very nice person when he's on the mound.
"But you're just sitting there and talking him, and he's a nice guy, he's cool."
Go figure, huh?
"It's the last person, it's the last kind of character you're expecting to meet at a game like that," he said. "It was weird."
Martinez had one at-bat and saw just one pitch in the game. He grounded out to shortstop.
"It was fun, it was awesome," he said. "It was one of those things where it was kind of a surreal experience, looking around, and seeing all these great players, and just being in the locker room with them, and knowing they're human, just like you."
The experience changed not only his perception of elite players in the game, but also of his own place among them.
"Just being there, and looking around the clubhouse and noticing all the great players — I don't know, you just felt like you belonged," he said. "Just one of those things like, I don't see those guys on a pedestal anymore. I feel equal to them."
With left-handed hitting first baseman Marc Krauss put on paternity leave, naturally, the Tigers called up right-handed hitting shortstop Dixon Machado.
"We just wanted another infielder," manager Brad Ausmus said. "We are kind of set in the outfield. We've got four guys who can play. So we just needed another infielder."
Catcher Alex Avila got the start at first base Friday, though Ausmus said Andrew Romine and Jefry Marte were also available. Asked if he worried about having both his catchers — Avila and James McCann — in the lineup at the same time, Ausmus shook his head.
"As long as they don't collide on a foul ball, we're OK," he said.
Machado, hitting .272 with a .683 OPS in Toledo, played in the Triple-A All-Star game Wednesday in Omaha.
Front office move
Mike Smith, who for the past 13 years has been a key Tigers front-office staffer, is leaving the Tigers at the end of July to become Director of Neighborhood Strategies for Invest Detroit.
Smith, 37, joined the Tigers in 2001 and for the past 11 years has been the team's director of baseball operations.
Invest Detroit is a community development financial group, which specializes in private-sector financing that supports economic and community growth, with an emphasis in Detroit's city limits.
Around the horn
Left-handed pitcher Tom Gorzelanny was placed on a leave of absence from Toledo. Ausmus said it was a personal matter and he has not left the team permanently.
… According to ESPN's Mark Simon, the Tigers have saved six runs with their defensive shifts this season.
… Ian Kinsler, hitting .350 since moving into the leadoff spot, has 31 multi-hit games, which is tied for third in the American League.
… Ausmus said there was no medical update on Miguel Cabrera, who remains on the DL with a calf strain.