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Ausmus defends decision to rest Kinsler

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Ian Kinsler

Detroit — Tigers manager Brad Ausmus tossed some batting practice Monday afternoon, underneath the scorching, June sky.

He then passed along some of the heat to the reporters during his daily pregame briefing.

Asked why he would give Ian Kinsler a start off Sunday, against division rival Kansas City, rather than wait till Monday, against Seattle, Ausmus got a little fired up  as he's done more and more lately with the media.

"When a a guy needs a day off," said Ausmus, "he needs a day off.

"I know it's Kansas City, but you gotta give him an off day."

Kinsler started 15 games in a row before Sunday, and his offense slowed during the stretch — which began with him boasting a .317/.367/.538 slash line, and ended at .307/.360/.526.

The Tigers had lost two of three to the Royals entering the fourth and final game of the series. Taking the finale would've given them a .500 road trip, but Ausmus didn't budge.

Here's why.

"The problem is we play our division almost 80 times," he said, he also knows fans don't want you resting the stars when on a home stand. "We play at home (81) times.

"You've gotta pick your spots."

The Tigers had their regular lineup out there Monday, minus J.D. Martinez, who's out with the elbow injury. Kinsler was back leading off, and Cameron Maybin was back batting second.

New pitchers

When Dustin Molleken makes his major-league debut, presumably, in the next day or two, he'll be the 22nd different pitched used already by the Tigers in 2016.

(That includes Andrew Romine.)

That makes for a lot of work for catcher James McCann, who has to know the ins and outs of all pitchers, and what works for them.

He makes sure to introduce himself right away to the new guy everytime there's a callup.

"I talk to them," said McCann, "what kind of sign system.

"Get that familiarity.

"That way we're not doing it during a game."

At the end of the day, McCann said, he still sticks to mostly the same game plan against opposing hitters, regardless of pitcher.

Verlander remembers draft

With the Tigers working hard to sign all their top draft picks, Justin Verlander recalled the day he was drafted. He was taken No. 2 overall by Detroit in 2004 out of Old Dominion, but he didn't know it right away.

His Dad, Richard, couldn't get the internet to work -- back in the days of dial-up.

It started working at the third pick.

After some digging, he learned he went a pick earlier, and headed outside to party with some friends and family in Virginia. Then Dave Dombrowski called.

"Mom didn't know who it was," Verlander said. "She said, 'I'm sorry, we're having a party for Justin. He'll have to call you later.'"

Around the horn

Steven Moya has given a lot of his "first" baseballs over the years to his parents.

How about his first major-league home-run ball, from Sunday's game.

"This one," he said, "I'm gonna keep for myself."

... Verlander's assessment of the 4-6 road trip: "I don't think people realize how tough that road trip was."

Ausmus' assessment: "We know that we're in the mix, but we've gotta play better."

... Drew VerHagen (right shoulder thoracic outlet syndrome) was transferred to the 60-day disabled list.

... Cool Tigers magazine this month, with Jose Iglesias and Ian Kinsler posing back-to-back at second base, like that Alan Trammell-Lou Whitaker photo decades ago.

... Dean Green hit .438 with three homers and 12 RBIs for Double-A Erie to earn Eastern League player of the week.

More importantly, it earned him a Toledo promotion.

... The Tigers showed a video tribute and held a moment of silence for Red Wings legend Gordie Howe.

Mariners at Tigers

First pitch: 7:10 Tuesday, Comerica Park, Detroit

TV/radio: FSD/97.1

Scouting report

LHP James Paxton (1-2, 2.86), Mariners: Just his fifth start of this season. Has a lofty WHIP (1.545), but also 29 strikeouts in 22 innings.

RHP Justin Verlander (7-5, 3.87), Tigers: Dominated lately -- as this is the first time since 2012 he's averaging more than a K per inning.