Detroit — James McCann played in his first game in two weeks Tuesday night at Toledo, going 0-for-3 with a pair of walks as the Mud Hens’ designated hitter in a 3-1 loss to Gwinnett.
McCann will start at catcher tonight for the Mud Hens if there are no setbacks from his first game since he sprained his ankle April 12 during a Tigers-Pirates contest in Detroit.
“I felt better than I thought I would,” McCann said.
He walked in the first, “just missed” a pitch that he skied to left in the third, and then walked again, bracketed by ground-outs to shortstop.
“I felt great as far as seeing the ball,” he said. “I didn’t feel jumpy at the plate.”
Mud Hens manager Lloyd McClendon also gave McCann a thumbs-up.
“He got through the game and he’s healthy,” McClendon said. “He’s working the rust off.”
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said before the game that the plan is for McCann to play in four games with the Mud Hens.
“He will DH tonight, catch seven innings, DH again, then catch nine innings and we will reevaluate after that,” Ausmus said.
Both Miguel Cabrera and Ausmus were upset with home plate umpire Mark Wegner after he called Cabrera out on strikes in the sixth inning.
Cabrera appeared to have called timeout and was wiping his nose on his sleeve when A’s starter Rich Hill delivered the pitch.
“It looked to me like he called timeout,” Ausmus said. “The umpire didn’t want to give it to him or he thought the pitcher was too far into his delivery. For me, if he called timeout, there’s no reason not to give it to him at that point.”
Cabrera struck out three times and had a single.
The Tigers deployed a different type of shift against A’s left-handed batter Josh Reddick.
Normally, third baseman Nick Castellanos will slide over and play in shallow right field between first baseman Miguel Cabrera and second baseman Ian Kinsler. That’s how they shifted against left-handed hitting Stephen Vogt.
Against Reddick, though, Castellanos remained as the only fielder on the left side of the infield, while shortstop Jose Iglesias, Kinsler and Cabrera covered the right side.
“We spread the shift out on the right side, so we’d rather have our three fastest guys over there because it’s spread out so much,” Ausmus said. “Against Vogt, we’re more condensed so we move Nick over there.
“Because we’re more spread out against Reddick, we want Kinsler, who has more range, to cover the larger space.”
Reddick had three singles, one to left field — but it was a liner that would have been a hit regardless of the shift.
Left fielder Justin Upton is showing signs of heating up.
First of all, he robbed Chris Coghlan of a home run in the third inning, leaping above the wall to snare his long fly ball. He juggled it but managed to corral it.
He also squared up two balls and hit each on a line to third baseman Coghlan.
“He looks better,” Ausmus said. “He looks good. I hope he’s getting close.”
He has two hits in his last 19 at-bats.