Moya takes low-key approach to replacing Martinez

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Tigers outfielder Steven Moya, left, will replace J.D. Martinez in right field.

Kansas City – Steven Moya understands the opportunity that’s fallen into his lap. He knows it’s the one he’s been working for and hoping for since the Tigers signed him in 2009.

This isn’t a September call-up. He’s not here to come off the bench or be an extra outfielder.

For the next four to six weeks, as long as it takes for J.D. Martinez’s broken elbow to heal, he’s going to be the Tigers starting right fielder.

He gets it. He’s just trying to stay calm about it, trying not to let it overwhelm him.

“It’s an opportunity but I really don’t want someone to get hurt for me to go play,” he said. “It’s an opportunity, but I just want to do my best to help the team win and get us as close as I can to representing J.D.

“I try not to put pressure on myself. I just want to play and do what I know – just play baseball and have fun.”

Manager Brad Ausmus, who batted Moya seventh Friday, didn’t feel the need to pull Moya aside or give him any kind of pep talk.

“No,” he said. “I just said, ‘Welcome back,’ and told him he was batting seventh.”

Moya has been up enough the last three years not to be intimidated or awed by the Major League stage.

“I know it’s the major leagues,” he said. “I’m not saying the major leagues is the same baseball as Triple-A and Double-A. But you have to throw the ball and I have to hit it. I just have to get the mindset to do that here and keep it rolling.”

Moya is having another productive season. He hit .281 in nine games (33 plate appearances) with the Tigers earlier this season. At Toledo, he’s hitting .298 with 13 home runs, 13 doubles, 38 RBIs and a .896 OPS.

He hit a home run off left-hander and former Tiger Phil Coke a couple of days ago, but Ausmus said he may not see many lefties.

“It depends on who the lefty is,” Ausmus said. “I think you will see Mike Aviles in right field against lefties.”

VerHagen to DL

It’s been a whacky season so far for right-hander Drew VerHagen.

He struggled after making the 25-man roster and was sent back to Toledo. Turns out, he was trying to pitch through a painful nerve condition.

VerHagen was placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday with right shoulder thoracic outlet syndrome. In lay terms, a nerve was being compressed near his clavicle.

"He was getting some soreness in and around the clavicle when he pitched,” Tigers head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said. “So it came to a point where he couldn't pitch.”

Rand said VerHagen was examined both by the team physicians and by specialist Dr. Greg Pearl in Dallas, and it was decided the course of action would be physical therapy to alleviate the compression.

Some of the manifestations of the injury – pain in the shoulder and neck and numbness in the fingers – are similar to what Shane Greene experienced last season. Rand said this was not the same.

"It's a neurological thoracic outlet, not arterial (blood),” he said. “We are hoping we can get through it with PT.”

Greene’s condition was a blood-flow disorder and he did need surgery.

Asked if VerHagen might need surgery, Rand said, “It’s possible, but at this time it's not being considered.”

Like Greene, though, VerHagen did have numbness in his fingers.

“That was in his last outing,” Rand said. “His last outing in Toledo he felt numbness in his fingers. But, again, it's nothing to do with the blood. It's the nerve.”

Maybin ready

Center fielder Cameron Maybin (left quad tightness) was held out of the starting lineup again Friday, but he told Ausmus he was ready to play.

“I wanted to give him one more day just as a precaution,” Ausmus said. “But he told me he could play. If we need him, he said he could pinch run and steal a base.”

Maybin was on the field testing the quad some four hours before the game, working with Rand and strength coach Chris Walter.

“He’s real close,” Rand said.