Presley keeps hitting in fight to earn spot on Tigers

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Tigers outfielder Alex Presley, right, shakes hands with on-deck batter Efren Navarro after scoring on an RBI triple during the first inning Wednesday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Dunedin, Fla. — Outfielder Alex Presley has been through this before — taking his roster battle right down to the wire.

“That’s where I always take it,” he said. “Every time I come into camp. I was cut on the very last day (of spring) last year.”

Viewed as a long shot to win a spot with the Tigers this spring, Presley keeps showing up, keeps ripping the ball, keeps playing flawlessly in the field at all three outfield spots.

“He certainly hasn’t hurt himself,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said.

Presley, 31, has hit .253 over seven big-league seasons with five clubs — including a brief three-game stint with the Tigers last year. And he’s been spraying base hits to all fields this spring.

He got two more hits Wednesday, including a double. He’s hitting .417 with a .500 on-base percentage. He’s also posted three doubles and two home runs.

He’s put himself into the conversation as to who might replace J.D. Martinez (sprained right foot) if the Tigers’ starting right fielder starts the year on the disabled list. Not that he will allow those thoughts to creep into his mind.

“No, I am just going to keep at it,” he said. “The only thing I can control is how I play. Everything else I can’t do anything about. So I just try to stay focused on that and nothing else.”

Being released by five different teams teaches a player those hard lessons.

“Before stuff would bother me,” he said. “You think about stuff and it weighs you down and affects how you play. Now, I know that doesn’t work. Just play the game and have fun — that’s usually when you play the best.

“That’s how it’s worked out so far.”

Norris doesn’t crack under pressure in Tigers loss

Injury updates

The news was good for Miguel Cabrera (back), Tyler Collins (lat), Omar Infante (back) and Francisco Rodriguez (hamstring).

Rodriguez has been cleared to pitch and will work an inning on the minor-league side Thursday.

Cabrera, Collins and Infante are going to be held out to Friday as a precaution.

“There is no concern,” Ausmus said. “With Miggy, we just don’t want to rush it. There is no reason to rush it. He’s got plenty of at-bats. I told him he wasn’t going to play today or tomorrow. We will see how he is Friday.”

Collins and Infante are on the same schedule.

Tigers’ Shane Greene brings heat in bounce-back effort

Around the horn

Dixon Machado, batting leadoff Wednesday against the Blue Jays, left the field shaking his head after his first two at-bats. He accumulated some 750 feet of outs. Off right-hander Marco Estrada, who retired 15 of 17 Tigers including the last 14 in a row, Machado flew out to the wall in center field in the first inning and to the wall in left field in the third.

… Two other relievers the Tigers are counting on this season also threw quick 1-2-3 innings. Justin Wilson and Kyle Ryan each posted a strike out. Ryan lowered his ERA to 2.08. Opponents are hitting .188 against him.

… The Tigers play a night game against the Braves on Thursday in Orlando. Justin Verlander will get the start. Meanwhile, Michael Fulmer and Alex Wilson will join Rodriguez on the back fields and throw in a minor-league game. “We are running out of innings,” Ausmus said. Fulmer is expected to go six or seven innings.