Gardenhire hints that Norris could be back by Saturday

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Christin Stewart

Kansas City, Mo. — The Tigers aren’t going to announce any September call-ups ahead of time, but manager Ron Gardenhire continues to throw out little hints.

Outfielder Christin Stewart almost certainly will be among the call-ups. And before Tuesday's game he intimated that left-hander Daniel Norris might not only be coming back up, but he might step into the rotation as early as Saturday.

“I want to get him a start,” Gardenhire said. “I’d love to get him a start. I think we need to. I think he needs it. Our goal is to get him a start or two before the end of the season.”

That is the opposite of what the Tigers were thinking last week. Norris has been out since having groin surgery on May 3. And before he threw 72 pitches in a rehab start at Toledo on Sunday, they were planning to use him out of the bullpen when or if he made it back to Detroit.

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That he was able to get stretched out that far that fast altered the Tigers’ thinking.

“I’m not saying we’re going to do this or we’re going to do that,” Gardenhire said. “But our goal is to get him a start. He’s stretched out now and he’s one of the guys we’re probably counting on down the road. But we’ll see who all we’re bringing up. There may be other guys who we’ll want to give a start to, as well.”

If they choose to use him out of the bullpen, it will be for long outings.

“If we use him out of the bullpen, it won’t be to get us out of an inning,” he said. “We’d bring him in for the start of an inning and give him the full time to warm up.”

Gardenhire also said they’d be bringing up a third catcher — whether that’s veteran Jarrod Saltalamacchia or someone else, he would not say.

“We’re trying to leave that Toledo team alone right now,” Gardenhire said. “They’re in a pennant race. So we’re trying not to make too big of waves. Just let them do their thing and not hurt that ballclub until the call-ups.”

More: Staying the course: Jimenez says hard work only way to stop struggling

Greiner at first?

Tigers backup catcher has been taking ground balls at first base during early batting practice for a couple of weeks now.

“Just taking some ground balls, staying active,” he said. “It can’t hurt. You never know what could happen. If I ever had to go there, it’s better to be prepared.”

Gardenhire said he and bench coach Steve Liddle suggested Greiner take some reps over there.

“That’s always good for a catcher,” he said. “It’s good for them to use their hands. And you never know where you are going to end up. We’ve already had a couple of guys end up there. We told him to take ground balls.

“It’s not a bad thing. You always want to leave yourself open to where you can go other places to get into the lineup.”

Around the horn

JaCoby Jones (hamstring) was activated from the disabled list and back in the starting lineup Tuesday. Mike Gerber was sent back to Toledo.

… Mikie Mahtook had reached base in 12 straight games entering play. He’s hit four home runs and knocked in nine runs in that stretch.

… Gardenhire said Francisco Liriano would start Thursday in New York and Jordan Zimmermann would get the ball on Friday.

… Victor Martinez, since Aug. 7, is hitting .333 with a .450 slugging percentage. His 529 RBIs as a Tiger is second in franchise history by a switch-hitter. He’s just two RBIs behind Billy Rogell.

Tigers at Royals

First pitch: 2:15 p.m., Wednesday

TV/radio: FSD, 97.1

Scouting report

LHP Danny Duffy (7-11, 4.85), Royals: This will be his second start since he’s come off the DL (shoulder impingement). He went five innings and allowed two runs with seven strikeouts against the Rays last week. The Tigers have feasted on him in two games this year (13 runs, 19 hits in 10 1/3 innings).

RHP Michael Fulmer (3-9, 4.32), Tigers: This will be Fulmer’s second start off the DL (oblique), too. He was strong last Friday, pitching 4 2/3 scoreless, two-hit innings against the White Sox. He threw 77 pitches. He’s expected to be stretched out to 85 or 90 in this one. @cmccosky