Detroit — Trade talk is everywhere in the baseball industry with the July 31 deadline fast approaching.
And, with the Tigers’ front office in Cooperstown this weekend for the inductions of Jack Morris and Alan Trammell, who is manning the phones?
“I am, I’m making trades myself,” said manager Ron Gardenhire, smiling broadly, before Friday's game at Comerica Park against the Cleveland Indians.
It was one light moment in a clubhouse that is hearing all the rumors of certain players, possibly, being on the move.
All the speculation, said Gardenhire, can take a toll on an individual.
“It does,” he said. “It’s human nature to talk about and that’s what these guys do, believe it or not, they’re on the internet and read whatever is out there and constantly searching. So they know, they’re not silly, they’ve been around this game a long time and and they also know a lot of things talked about never really happen
“We’ve explained to them, and they’ve been around enough, to just keep playing and do what you’re doing.”
Gardenhire has told players that if a trade does come about, it’s a positive development. Especially this time of year, when the playoffs are coming into sight.
“When somebody wants you, that’s a good thing in this game,” Gardenhire said. “If someone is interested, and would like to have you pitch (or play) for them, I’m happy for him.
“This is the time of year, guys, all of them, want a piece of — to play or get into the playoffs. You never want to stop them if they get that opportunity. I’ve been there a few times and that’s kind of the route you want to go. That’s when it’s really fun and real entertaining.”
Players that have been through it, said Gardenhire, are likely to handle the situation better than someone who is new to the trade rumors this time of the season.
For example, pitcher Francisco Liriano has been through the process, even getting traded last year from Toronto to Houston (and winning a World Series ring).
“He’s been there, and he’s done it, and those guys probably handle it better,” Gardenhire said. “When you have family, it makes it difficult. You have to move your family and all those things, but the veterans have been through it.”
But with a player such as shortstop Jose Iglesias, who hasn’t gone through the trade deadline speculation as much until this year, it’s different.
“I’m sure he’s a little jumpy right now. His name is out there, too, and I’m sure he thinks about it,” Gardenhire said. “He’s talked to me about it, and I told him, it’s a good thing if you’re getting looked at and people want you. It’s a good thing, never a bad thing.
“It’s been part of the game for a long time.”
Pitcher Michael Fulmer’s (left oblique strain) stay on the 10-day disabled list (placed July 20) comes to an end next week, but as expected, Fulmer isn’t ready to return.
“He feels great, he’s not doing a lot of running,” Gardenhire said. “He’s moving around good, and really hasn’t felt anything, so that’s a good sign.”
Gardenhire said Fulmer may increase his workload next week if he feels good enough to get a better indication of where he’s at physically.
As much as Miguel Cabrera is missed on the field, the Tigers are missing the veteran star in the clubhouse, too.
Cabrera, of course, was lost for the season in early June with a ruptured left biceps tendon.
“He’s a voice, a big voice, who has been there and done it,” Gardenhire said. “He had instant respect and would give those young guys grief for not running a ball out or whatever. You could hear him hoot and hollering, although I couldn’t understand what he was saying.”
Having designated hitter Victor Martinez still around has helped, said Gardenhire, but Cabrera’s impact was unique.
“He was a force in there, and we’ve missed that. No doubt about it,” Gardenhire said.
Indians at Tigers
First pitch: 6:10 p.m. Saturday, Comerica Park, Detroit
RHP Mike Clevinger (7-6, 3.43), Indians: Clevinger is 3-4 over his last seven starts, with a 3.65 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. He has struck out 56 over that 44.1-inning span, while only walking 15. Clevinger is coming off a loss against Texas, in which he worked 6.2 innings and allowed four hits and two runs, with four walks and seven strikeouts.
LHP Francisco Liriano (3-5, 4.73), Tigers: Liriano is coming off a no-decision Monday in Kansas City, where he allowed three runs on six hits, with three walks and six strikeouts, in 4.2 innings. Liriano has faced Cleveland 23 times in his career, 18 as a starter, and has a 5-8 record with a 4.40 ERA and 107 strikeouts. He is 0-2 in three starts against Cleveland this season.