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No incremental return for Tigers' Cabrera

Lynn Henning
The Detroit News

St. Petersburg, Fla. — Miguel Cabrera has been missing from the Tigers lineup nearly four weeks. The Tigers hope to have him back by mid-August.

It would be natural to think a superstar hitter might be eased back, perhaps as a designated hitter before he and his healing left calf return to the rigors of first base.

Not so.

“Miggy will be fine,” manager Brad Ausmus said Tuesday as the Tigers got ready for an evening game against the Rays at Tropicana Field. “I’m not worried about that.

“If he can play first base, he can hit, and if he can hit, he can play first base.”

Cabrera has not played since July 3, when he shredded fibers in his left calf while sprinting to second base.

Ausmus said the fact Cabrera damaged his left calf should help, because Cabrera “won’t be pushing off” with his front leg during at-bats.

But neither will Cabrera be hustled into a lineup that can’t wait to reclaim its hitting colossus.

“He has to be healthy,” said Ausmus, emphasizing the Tigers won’t consider a return until doctors pronounce him 100-percent recovered. “The biggest concern is when he has to make explosive moves, like that first step out of the box.”

Krol improves

Numbers have been getting better for Tigers reliever Ian Krol, which is none too soon for a bullpen that has been waiting for his performances to match his potential.

In his last seven games, Krol has a 1.93 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP. In those games, spanning 42/3 innings, Krol has struck out five and allowed three hits. It’s progress for a 24-year-old left-hander who was an essential part of the 2013 trade that sent Doug Fister to the Nationals.

“I think he’s getting better,” Ausmus said. “He’s added kind of a cutter, which is a good pitch for him.”

That cutter could help Krol deal with a notorious problem: right-handed batters, who are hitting .286 against him with a .923 OPS.

Ausmus on trades

What Ausmus had to say about trades that brought ace pitcher Johnny Cueto to the first-place Royals and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to the Blue Jays:

■Cueto: “Makes ’em stronger. They’re already the best team in the league.”

■Tulowitzki, traded in a deal that sent Jose Reyes to the Rockies: “Just means we have to face Tulowitzki now, and not Reyes.”

Behind closed doors

The Tigers had an unusually long, 25-minute delay ahead of clubhouse doors opening following Monday’s game against the Rays, a 5-2 loss.

Because baseball officials prescribe a rigid 10-minute limit, there was suspicion a team meeting, or personnel situation, might have led to an uncharacteristic delay.

But there was no such meeting or incident. A simple discussion between Ausmus and an unnamed player about strategy became so absorbing it ran overly long.

Arizona Fall League

The Tigers will send a handful of players this autumn to the Arizona Fall League, where they will join the Scottsdale Scorpions. Four other teams will provide players to the Scorpions: Red Sox, Indians, Twins, and Giants.

Lance Parrish, manager at Double A Erie, last year led prospects for the Glendale Desert Dogs. Matt Quatraro, a manager in the Indians farm system, will be Scottsdale’s skipper.

The Tigers will have one coaching representative on the Scorpions staff: Nelson Santovenia, who is hitting coach at Single A Lakeland.

Tigers at Rays

First pitch: 12:10 today, Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Fla.

TV/radio: FSD/97.1

Scouting report

■RHP Justin Verlander, Tigers (0-3, 5.57): What a year for Verlander — injuries, adjustments. But don’t be surprised if he pitches well against the Rays. Verlander’s adapting.

■RHP Chris Archer, Rays (9-7, 2.67): Brilliant pitcher who will rack up his share of strikeouts today (he has 162 in 1342/3 innings). Has allowed 104 hits.