Tigers’ Upton gets night off as precaution

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Justin Upton

Detroit – Justin Upton wanted to play Tuesday night. Manager Brad Ausmus said he probably could have played.

But, for one night, discretion was the better part of valor.

“We decided to give him a day (off),” Ausmus said. “He said he felt pretty good, but we’re going to have him just do nothing today – no hitting (before the game) or anything. He probably could play, but we need to make sure he’s all right before we put him back in there.”

Upton had been playing through some discomfort in his left calf muscle for several days before it caused him to come out of the game after three innings Monday.

“It's kind of one of those things that has been brewing the past couple days and I finally pushed myself too far,” Upton said Monday. “Just get some treatment on it and see how it feels.”

He felt pain in the third inning when he tried to plant his left leg and make a throw back into the infield. Ausmus said no MRI or X-rays were deemed necessary.

Tyler Collins got the start in left Tuesday and Ausmus said Upton would be available to pinch-hit if needed.

The Tigers face a critical series in Cleveland this weekend. They’d rather give Upton an extra day to convalesce against the last-place Twins, than risk not having him against the first-place Indians.

Romine out

Andrew Romine was a hero for the Tigers Monday – getting on base three times and scoring the tying run in the seventh with a daring dash from first to home. On Tuesday, he was back on the bench.

“When I make the lineup out, I put the lineup out that I think can help us win the game that night,” Ausmus said. “Simple as that. I could’ve played Romine today. You never know what’s going to happen. But I felt (shortstop) Jose Iglesias swung the bat pretty well last night and (third baseman) Erick Aybar has a good history against (Twins starter Kyle) Gibson.”

Small, subtle baseball plays add up to big Tigers win

Aybar is 5-for-13 lifetime against Gibson.

But don’t misunderstand. Ausmus values Romine.

“Romey always plays hard,” he said. “He can play anywhere on the field. He's such an asset to the team. He's one of those unsung heroes. He doesn't get the 10-year, $200 million contract, but he's the type of guy that makes any team he's on better. I'm never surprised when he contributes.”

That sentiment is shared throughout the clubhouse.

“Andrew always has an impact on the game when he plays,” Ian Kinsler said. “It seems like he’s always in the right place defensively, he finds a way on base, regardless of what it is. It could be anything, it could be a third strike where the ball is in the dirt, where he’s beating it out; or getting hit by a pitch, or drawing a walk.

“He always seems to be in the middle of good things happening for our team.”

Around the horn

Ausmus confirmed after the game Tuesday that rookie Michael Fulmer, assuming good health, will make his final three starts of the season. He will not be shut down. He will likely get an extra day or two before two of them, but he is expected to finish the season in the rotation and be ready if the Tigers make the playoffs.

... Right-handed pitcher Jordan Zimmermann is scheduled to throw an 80-pitch simulated game Wednesday afternoon. Ausmus said it will be divided into four, 20-pitch innings. “It’s not a real game situation but I think we will be able to tell if the ball’s coming out a little better, if the arm speed is back,” Ausmus said. “But it’s definitely an imperfect science.”

… The Tigers hope third baseman Nick Castellanos will be among the hitters Zimmermann faces. It will be the first live pitching Castellanos sees since he broke his hand Aug. 6. Castellanos hit in the cage Tuesday and told Ausmus there was soreness. Castellanos will determine whether the hand is ready for live pitching Wednesday.

… The Tigers assembled for their annual team photo Tuesday. None of the Ilitches – owner Mike, wife Marian nor Christopher – were present.

TWINS AT TIGERS

First pitch: 7:10 p.m., Wednesday

TV / radio: FSD / 97.1

Scouting report

RHP Tyler Duffey (8-11, 6.13), Twins: He’s been roughed up in his last three starts, all against Central Division foes. He’s allowed 16 runs (13 earned) in 11.2 innings over that stretch. That includes a loss to the Tigers on Aug. 24 where he gave up six runs and seven hits in three innings.

RHP Anibal Sanchez (5-3, 3.89), Tigers: It’s been a trying season – highest ERA of his career, second-highest WHIP. But he continues to compete. He’s had two rocky starts since the beginning of July – at Texas and against the Angels. In the six others, he’s allowed three runs or less.

Twitter @cmccosky