Notes: Perez playing nice defense
Infielder helps turn key play in Verlander's no-hitter
DETROIT -- Neifi Perez likes to believe he can handle any ball hit his way. If he can reach it, he wants to think he can catch it.
In that respect, he can't say he was surprised that he made the stop and flip that started the inning-ending double play to help preserve Justin Verlander's no-hitter on Tuesday night. To him, it was the situation that made it bigger. But there was also the hop.
"I'm glad that I got the opportunity to do my job," Perez said. "It was difficult, but it was lucky, because that ball came up on me when I was diving for the ball."
Because of that high bounce, the ball just about knocked Perez over when he fielded it up around his shoulder. He came down with the ball, but his back was turned to second base.
He didn't need to take a long glance behind him to the bag. He knew his double-play partner.
"I knew that he was there," he said of Placido Polanco, "I just caught the ball, I looked and [flipped]."
It was the second highlight play he made in a week and a half. During the recent four-game series at Cleveland, he had an outstretched, diving stop and flip to second for a forceout at second base. That, too, was with Verlander on the mound, though it came in defeat.
Asked if he thinks he surprises his teammates with his defense, he pulled out his glove and pointed at the label. It was colored gold, a sign of the Gold Glove award he won in Colorado in 2000.
"They might be surprised because of the moment I made that play," Perez said.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland, for one, is not surprised.
"Neifi Perez has been a good player for a long time," Leyland said. "He's not as good a player as he used to be. But he's not getting a chance to play, and that's part of it. But he's played for a long time.
"Neifi Perez is one of my favorites. I make no bones about it. Is he going to have to produce when he gets his opportunity? Sure, but he's done a heckuva job, when you think about it. When you put somebody in there at shortstop, you want him to catch the ball. Put somebody at second, you want them to catch the ball. If those guys hit, it's a bonus. And he's done everything I could ask -- played third, played second, played short flawlessly."
Shortstop Carlos Guillen was feeling a little better with his tweaked left hamstring, but still not well enough to start. Leyland said after the game that he doesn't plan on having Guillen available until this weekend's series at Philadelphia.
Making the right call: Tigers radio voice Dan Dickerson knows well the broadcast tradition of not acknowledging a no-hitter while it's building for fear of jinxing. But as he was watching Justin Verlander mow down one hitter after another, he also remembered the philosophy that Hall of Famer Ernie Harwell held, that the main job of a broadcaster is to keep listeners updated on what was going on.
Dickerson found creative ways to do it.
"I said it over and over again: Four runs, seven hits, no errors for the Tigers. No runs, no hits, no errors [for the Brewers]," Dickerson said. "I could not the say the words, 'no-hitter.' 'Four baserunners, all on walks.' 'Still looking for their first hit,' I thought even that crossed the line."
As for his call upon the final out, Dickerson wanted it off the cuff, much like his call when Magglio Ordonez's home run in the American League Championship Series sent the Tigers to the World Series last October. Other than double-checking the date on Jack Morris' last no-hitter and gathering the list of previous no-hitters in Tigers history, nothing was prepared.
Nor could he prepare for the fact that his call would end up being replayed on ESPN over and over. Once his brother called him to let him know it was on SportsCenter, he recorded a replay to watch later.
Rogers rehab start official: The Tigers officially announced that Kenny Rogers will make his second rehab start Friday for Class A West Michigan. With Triple-A Toledo and Double-A Erie on the road, a start in Grand Rapids made the most sense from a geographical standpoint.
Coming up: After Chad Durbin (5-2, 4.59) saw his personal 10-game unbeaten streak come to an end last Friday against the Mets, he'll try to start a new one when he takes the mound in Thursday afternoon's series finale against the Brewers. He'll face Milwaukee ace Ben Sheets (6-3, 3.21), who has tossed 13 scoreless innings over two starts in June. Game time is 1:05 p.m. ET before what is expected to be a sellout crowd.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.