Twins' rise, Tigers' dive weren't in early forecasts

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit — It seems like six years ago, but it's only been six months.

The Tigers opened the season by sweeping the Twins, outscoring them 22-1 in three games. While the Tigers were winning 11 of their first 13, the Twins lost six of their first seven.

Look at them now.

The Twins entered play Friday at 78-74, just 1.5 games out of the second wild card spot. The Tigers are in last place, playing out the string.

"They certainly weren't on anybody's radar to start the season," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "But they've done a nice job. I'd like to say (Miguel) Sano gave them an injection, but I don't know. They were pretty good before that.

"They also had a couple guys that really broke out. Like (Aaron) Hicks is breaking out this year. Joe Mauer's doing what he does. Trevor Plouffe's having a nice year, their pitching's solid. Maybe it's Torii Hunter. There's a lot of pieces to the puzzle."

As for the Tigers going in the opposite direction after the 11-2 start?

"It's a six-month season," Ausmus said. "That's why I didn't get excited about 11-2. I've seen it go both ways. I've seen a fast start and a slow finish, and I've seen slow starts and fast finishes. It's 162 games.

"The first 11, I am well aware of that not being any indication of what your final record's going to be. I think I told you at the time we weren't going to win nine of every 10 games."

Right as rain.

Iglesias done?

Ausmus stopped just short of declaring Jose Iglesias done for the year.

Iglesias, out with a fractured middle finger on his right hand, has yet to take batting practice or any baseball activity.

Asked if he thought Iglesias might hit before Sunday, Ausmus said, "I'd be shocked."

Yet, he left the door open, ever so slightly.

"I'll hold out hope in the next couple days he might be able to swing the bat," Ausmus said. "If he does then there's a chance."


Tigers left-hander Daniel Norris studies film of how former Tigers ace David Price does his work on the mound. He's also, unwittingly, taking a page out of Price's handbook on how to be a great teammate.

Norris, like Price, is always hanging around the cage during batting practice. Like Price did last year, Norris has quickly ingratiated himself with his teammates.

Case in point: He begged Ausmus to let him travel with the team when he was on the disabled list, though he was unable to do any baseball activity.

"Norris did come to me and ask if he could travel," Ausmus said. "Generally, if you can't participate in baseball activities, we haven't taken guys on the road with us. He wanted to come and after talking to Al (Avila) about it, I felt like it'd be a good experience for him to get to know his teammates better. Al was on board, so we decided to take him with us."

Ausmus agreed that Norris had the same "gym-rat" mentality Price had.

"Somewhat, yeah," he said. "David Price was like that for sure. Norris is in a similar mold. He doesn't have the tenure David has, but he has a similar makeup."

Around the horn

Miguel Cabrera, who was held out of the game Wednesday with back soreness, returned to the lineup Friday. Ausmus said he had no restrictions.

… Mike Maroth, who was the pitching coach in Toledo this season, is leaving the Tigers to become the minor league rehabilitation pitching coordinator with the Atlanta Braves. Maroth was looking for a job in the Orlando, Fla. area, where he lives.