Tigers' J.D. Martinez expected to take BP
St. Petersburg, Fla. — Unless he got a bad doctor report Tuesday, or unless a right foot that has been steadily healing has a setback, J.D. Martinez was expected to join the Tigers for batting practice Wednesday.
It has been a long month for the team’s supposed right fielder who hasn’t played since he sprained his foot during a March 18 Grapefruit League game at Lakeland.
The Tigers will be playing the second game of their three-game set against the Rays at Tropicana Field.
“He’ll be here and will probably hit on the field,” said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, explaining before Tuesday’s game that Martinez had hoped to take some on-field swings ahead of the team’s series opener.
But a doctor’s appointment canceled plans there.
And now it’s a matter of seeing how Martinez reacts to more aggressive activity, including running in the outfield, before the Tigers will send their right-handed slugger on a rehabilitation trip somewhere in their farm system.
“He’s got to be able to run,” Ausmus said. “He’s pretty close.”
Back at it
Miguel Cabrera was dealing with tight back muscles in Cleveland but was back in the lineup Tuesday.
“He texted me yesterday,” Ausmus said. “Said he was feeling better.”
Cabrera has returned to Cabrera-like ways following a lousy early April that saw him arrive for Tuesday’s game with a .220 batting average.
On the occasion of his 34th birthday, Cabrera entered the evening with a 6-for-13 streak in his last four games, which included his two 2017 home runs.
No way was Ausmus taking chances Tuesday with Alex Avila.
He might be the Tigers’ backup catcher, at least nominally, but he’s sticking in the lineup as long as that bat sizzles.
Avila had hit safely in the five games in which he has played and had homered in his last two weekend starts against the Indians.
Avila was batting a searing .700 as he got ready Tuesday for Rays right-handed starter Matt Andriese.
“Hot hand,” said Ausmus, speaking of a catcher who has been helping stoke a back end of the Tigers lineup that has been punishing opponent pitchers.
That, of course, is fine with the skipper – as long as the mid-order picks up.
“Over the long haul,” Ausmus said of Detroit’s prime-time offense, “it’s going to have to come from the heart of the order.”
The Tigers were hoping to keep the bombs bursting at Tropicana.
They had homered in each of their first 12 games, a team record. The 12-game surge is the longest season-opening streak by any American League team since the Indians homered in their first 14 games in 2002.
And that run was the longest by any big-league club in 100 years.
Tigers at Rays
Time: 7:10 Wednesday, Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Fla.
RHP Jordan Zimmermann, Tigers (1-1, 5.06): Had a lousy time trying to grip the ball last week on a cold, dry afternoon in Detroit. Tropicana’s indoor environs should help as Zimmermann hopes for a bounce-back.
RHP Erasmo Ramirez, Rays (1-0, 3.72): He’s primarily a reliever for the Rays but is getting a start tonight. And he can be rather trustworthy, thanks to a sinker-cutter repertoire that isn’t overpowering but gets the job done.