Most of toxic substance broke down before spilling into Huron River, state finds

Absence of good-luck charm gets Tigers twisted

Chris McCosky, The Detroit News

Minneapolis — Well, now we know what went wrong on the last road trip. Jarrod Saltalamacchia forget the Mr. Salty doll.

“It was all on Mr. Salty,” he said.

Probably some explanation is in order. Saltalamacchia got a Mr. Salty rag doll, which are now extinct — Nabisco stopped the Mr. Salty pretzel line in the 1990s — from a fan.

“She is a super Detroit Tigers fan,” Saltalamacchia said. “She wrote a nice letter and said it might bring us luck.”

Well, it did. Saltalamacchia started hanging the doll in his locker soon after the All-Star break and the Tigers won 10 of 12 games. But he left Mr. Salty behind when the team went out to Seattle and Texas — and the Tigers lost four of six games.

The Tigers tried to manufacture other good luck charms in Mr. Salty’s absence — kind of like the Royals did with their Rally Mantis. Didn’t take.

“We had our own praying mantis on the bench the next night,” Saltalamacchia said. “That didn’t work out too well for us. Another loss. I think (Mike) Pelfrey might have killed it. I am not sure.”

Needless to say, Mr. Salty was hanging in Saltalamacchia’s locker before Tuesday night’s game.

Happy in the D

Saltalamacchia signed a one-year deal with the Tigers in the offseason and will be an unrestricted free agent in the winter. He said he hasn’t given that any thought to this point.

“Not really,” he said. “We’re in a playoff race and our total focus is on winning this race.”

Fact is, though, Saltalamacchia has improved his viability on the free agent market.

He was expected to serve this season as the backup catcher to James McCann. Instead, because of McCann’s ankle injury, and because of Saltalamacchia’s experience behind the plate and his production (.313 on-base percentage, 11 home runs and 35 RBIs), it’s ended up being almost a platoon.

Saltalamacchia has played in 74 games, McCann 78 including Tuesday night. In the 49 games Saltalamacchia has started at catcher, the Tigers are 30-19.

“I am happy with the games I’ve caught,” Saltalamacchia said. “I don’t know what my record is, but when I am behind the plate, I give everything I’ve got to help the team win.”

The Tigers don’t have a catcher at the Double-A or Triple-A level who appears ready to step into Saltalamacchia’s role. As things stand now, it seems likely the Tigers would be open to bringing him back for a second year.

“I don’t know what it looks like as far as that’s concerned,” he said. “I know Mac is going to be here for a while, and rightly so. He’s done a great job and he’s continuing to learn. Obviously, I don’t think he’s as happy with his offensive numbers as he thought he would be, but at the same time, he’s been solid behind the plate.

“As long as he stays focused on that, he will be fine. We will see what happens. Right now, just focus on tonight and getting a win.”

As for himself, he certainly won’t rule out re-signing with the Tigers.

“I’ve loved it,” he said of his experience in Detroit. “It’s an organization that does whatever it takes to win. You show up at the field and the fans expect you to win. The guys in the clubhouse expect you to win. There is nothing more fun as a player than that.”

Around the horn

Jordan Zimmermann will throw a bullpen session Wednesday. If it goes well he will head out for the first of three rehab starts. It is believed the first one would be Friday, though that’s not set in stone. Manager Brad Ausmus said the best-case scenario would be for Zimmermann to rejoin the Tigers’ rotation around Sept. 10.

… Shortstop Jose Iglesias, barring any setback, could be activated on Friday.

… Mike Pelfrey is scheduled to pitch a simulated game in Minnesota on Wednesday.

… Right-handed reliever Bobby Parnell, who was up briefly this season, cleared waivers and was given his outright release.

... Cameron Maybin was back in the lineup Tuesday, but he's still feeling some pain in his left thumb, especially when he makes contact at the plate. For that reason, he batted ninth instead of his usual second in the batting order.

Twitter: @cmccosky