Saltalamacchia’s start goes swimmingly

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Ian Kinsler forces out Brett Gardner and turns a double play in the first inning Friday.

Detroit -- Jarrod Saltalamacchia's Tigers debut couldn't have gone any better.

He threw out one of the fastest base-stealers in all of baseball, then he homered off one of the best pitchers in all of baseball.

And he did it all against the Miami Marlins, who are still paying the majority of his salary.

So, what was best?

"Dee Gordon, by far," Saltalamacchia, said, smiling, before the Tigers’ home opener against the New York Yankees.

"We always talked about it. Once, I'd thrown him out and he talked about it all the time. I couldn't remember it, but supposedly I did. This one, I can actually remember."

Saltalamacchia threw out only 19 percent of would-be base-stealers his last two seasons, and has thrown out just 22 percent for his career.

So when Gordon was off to the races in the first inning of Game 2, many fans were stunned to see a bullet from Saltalamacchia to Ian Kinsler to get him.

Manager Brad Ausmus wasn't as surprised.

"He has a strong arm, there's no question about that," Ausmus said. "His arm strength is very close to James McCann.

"He did throw out Dee Gordon, who's one of the best base runners in the game. But let's wait and reserve judgment on that."

Saltalamacchia credited Anibal Sanchez with getting him the fastball quickly, allowing him enough time to just nab Gordon.

What a combo -- Sanchez isn't known for holding runners, and Saltalamacchia isn't known for throwing them out, yet there you go.

"A game like that, I'd be happy if I can do that every time out," said Saltalamacchia, who was backing up McCann on Friday. "It feels good to help this team win."

Injury update

Outfielder Cameron Maybin (wrist) and pitcher Alex Wilson (shoulder) both got work in Thursday for Lakeland. Maybin and pitcher Blaine Hardy (shoulder) will play in Saturday's game, and Wilson will pitch again Sunday.

All remain on track to possibly play for Detroit by the middle of April, Ausmus said.