Notes: Maybin takes nothing for granted
Top prospect hopes to relax as he begins big league career
NEW YORK -- A week ago, Cameron Maybin was getting ready to finish out his summer at Class A Lakeland, Fla. When Friday began in the early morning hours, he was on a bus from Reading to Altoona, Pa., when Erie manager Matt Walbeck had some news for him.
By Friday afternoon, Maybin was walking the streets of the Big Apple, preparing to be injected into a pennant race -- not the Double-A Eastern League, but the American League.
The baseball he can handle. The streets were another matter.
"New York is fast," Maybin said. "It's real fast, a little bit faster than what I'm used to: everything -- the traffic, the people. They walk fast. I walk slow."
But Maybin plays fast. He also learns fast, which is why he's here in a hurry. His big-league debut was one of the few instances in his career when he might've been rushing too fast.
If Maybin was nervous about making his Major League debut under the lights at Yankee Stadium, taking his cuts against Andy Pettitte, he wasn't showing it Friday afternoon. He figured he'd be nervous for his first at-bat, and he was, striking out on three pitches against Pettitte.
"I was a little jacked up," Maybin said. "I was definitely going up with a lot of adrenaline. It was still fun."
As it turned out, it was the start of a challenging night, going 0-for-4 with another strikeout at the plate while he adjusted to his first game in left field since Spring Training. The first ball he put in play bounced in front of the plate and hit his elbow, prompting home-plate umpire Chris Guccione to call him out, though replays showed he was still in the batters box when his arm struck the ball.
Maybin flew out to right in his fourth and final at-bat.
"I think I was just a little bit more anxious, trying to make something happen," he said. "I was trying a little too hard. I got that one out of the way. Now I can relax a little bit, go out and play."
The Yankees, to their credit, had enough advance scouting on Maybin from the Minor Leagues to formulate a game plan for him. Knowing his quick bat can turn on fastballs inside, Pettitte threw some sliders and cutters to mix him up.
Defensively, the move to left field was another challenge. Rains in the late afternoon and early evening not only delayed the game by an hour, but it forced both teams indoors for batting practice. Thus, Maybin couldn't take pregame fly balls with outfield coach Andy Van Slyke.
"It's different," Maybin said of left. "The ball goes a lot of different ways. I was just trying to find out where I'm comfortable out there. I didn't think I did too bad of a job out there, but it was definitely different than playing center field."
A pair of doubles showed him the range of angles. Alex Rodriguez dropped a line drive just inside the left-field line and into the seats for a ground rule double in the third inning. In the sixth, Andy Phillips hit a line drive into the gap in left-center.
Maybin's only chance to thwart the double was to cut it off and try for a catch. He gave it a shot, but it cleared him.
"I thought I had a great jump," Maybin said. "Then at the last minute, those lights, they go all the way down and I kind of lost it. Watching the [replay], I might've had a chance at it if I dove, but I just lost it in the lights."
He had his share of challenges, but he accomplished his main goal. When good friend and All-Star Ken Griffey Jr. called him before the game, he told Maybin to just have fun and not put pressure on himself. Griffey, like Maybin, reached the Majors two years after he was drafted, though he was 19 for his debut.
Now that the first one is over, Maybin doesn't have to wait long to settle into a routine. Even before Friday's game, Leyland said he'd have Maybin in the lineup Saturday against Roger Clemens.
That's fine with Maybin, who figures his jitters are past him.
"I think just with repetitions, everything will come along," he said.
Santiago up, Infante down: Maybin's call-up wasn't the only move by the Tigers on Friday. They also made a swap of utility infielders with Triple-A Toledo by calling up Ramon Santiago and sending down Omar Infante.
The move is a purely defensive tactic aimed at shortstop, where Carlos Guillen's sore knees have prompted the Tigers to look to give him some part-time relief. Though Infante came up as a natural shortstop, Santiago is seen as the stronger defensive player for his fielding and throwing. Santiago will get some starts for Guillen, and manager Jim Leyland said he'll give Guillen some starts at first base against left-handed pitching.
The Tigers pursued infield help around the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline but didn't pull off a trade. Instead, once Santiago returned from the disabled list after a four-week absence with a broken right ring finger, they gained an option internally. He hit .263 in 91 games for the Mud Hens with 19 doubles, four triples, three home runs and 30 RBIs.
"I like Omar. I like him a lot," Leyland said. "He's a very versatile player. But if we need somebody to play nine innings at shortstop two or three days, I'd rather have Santiago over Omar. That's just the way it is."
As for Infante, his stay in the Minors will be short. Barring the unforeseen, the Tigers plan to call him up when rosters expand Sept. 1.
Flu report: They're still not ready to play, but both Placido Polanco and Kenny Rogers were starting to get over the flu bug that had leveled them earlier in the week.
Rogers looked significantly better Friday, and was hoping to resume his rehab program by throwing a bullpen session sometime this weekend. He tried to keep his arm fresh by playing catch Thursday, when he still looked visibly ill.
"I was backed up [in my program] for one day," said Rogers, who was originally scheduled to throw a side session Wednesday before the flu hit him hard. "I don't want to be backed up any more."
Polanco said he was feeling better, but he was still held out of the lineup. Leyland said he wasn't sure whether Polanco would be available to play Saturday.
While others were feeling better, Fernando Rodney said Friday he was coming down with the flu.
RBI champs celebration: The Tigers organization held a celebration Friday in Detroit to honor the city's victory in the RBI Junior Boys World Series. The Detroit team won its second consecutive championship with all-stars from the Detroit Youth Baseball League, co-sponsored by Orchard Children's Services and Think Detroit PAL.
Coming up: The Tigers will send Chad Durbin (7-5, 4.68) to the mound opposite Clemens (4-5, 4.00) Saturday afternoon in the FOX Game of the Week at Yankee Stadium. Game time is 3:55 p.m. ET.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.