Detroit — Nick Castellanos couldn’t wait. And neither could the Tigers.
Seven weeks after Castellanos fractured his left pinky finger and gutted the Tigers offense at third base, Castellanos was activated Tuesday following a summer-autumn stint on the disabled list.
He was to arrive Tuesday on a flight from Florida to Detroit and be in uniform at some point for an evening game against the Indians at Comerica Park.
“It’ll be good to have our lineup back and intact,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “He’ll help us win games.”
Castellanos was hit by a pitch Aug. 6 during a game against the Mets and headed for the disabled list. Gone from Ausmus’ batting order was a right-handed hitter who was hitting .286, with 18 home runs and an .831 OPS.
He played in a pair of tune-up games at the Tigers instructional league, at their Lakeland, Fla., headquarters, and was pronounced ready Tuesday.
Ausmus hinted that Castellanos could start in today’s game against the Indians. The Tigers have six games remaining in the regular season and are two games behind the Orioles in their push to grab a wild card.
Tigers starting pitchers are, of course, lined up for the Indians series. Justin Verlander started Tuesday, Michael Fulmer goes today, and Fulmer’s fellow rookie, Daniel Norris, works Thursday’s series finale.
But, ah, those final three regular-season games against the Braves at Atlanta?
Nothing has been decided. In the first two games, anyway.
“We’ve got three choices for two spots,” Ausmus said.
Verlander, of course, would pitch Sunday’s finale — if a playoff ticket is still within mathematical reach for the Tigers.
That leaves Matt Boyd, Jordan Zimmermann, and Buck Farmer as Friday-Saturday options.
“We’ll see how it plays out,” said Ausmus, who knows the wild-card standings will in large part determine strategies.
The Tigers will play before a standing-room only crowd Sunday at Atlanta.
And isn’t that decent of Braves fans to be so revved for a game featuring the visitors from Detroit?
Well, it’s not exactly the Tigers that have made tickets exceptionally scarce and exceptionally expensive (on certain markets).
It’s the final game at Turner Field ahead of next year’s relocation to a new park in Atlanta.
Taking pity on those who weren’t able to secure earlier seats — or afford the “separate market” prices — the Braves offered $20 standing-room tickets Tuesday for designated spots where throngs can at least say they were physically present for the farewell.
Miguel Cabrera had a two-run double in the first inning Tuesday, and followed up an inning later with a gigantic home run into the shrubbery in center field as the Tigers took a 5-0 lead in the second inning of their game off Cleveland and starter Mike Clevenger.
The five RBIs gave Cabrera 102 RBIs for the year, the eighth season he has had at least 100 RBIs for the Tigers. It ties him with Harry Heilmann as the only player in Tigers history to have eight 100-RBI seasons.
Indians at Tigers
First pitch: 7:10 tonight, Comerica Park, Detroit
TV/radio: ESPN, FSD/97.1
RHP Zach McAllister (3-2, 3.58), Indians: Getting his second start of the season. He has 53 strikeouts in 52 games and 50 1/3 innings.
RHP Michael Fulmer (11-7, 2.95), Tigers: Not fair to put a rookie in charge of another vital game for the Tigers, but Fulmer seems to devour these moments. Should win rookie of the year, and could win the league’s ERA title.