DETROIT -- It's not under the best of circumstances, but Miguel Cabrera will start in place of the Twins' Justin Morneau at first base for the American League in the All-Star Game on Tuesday.
Morneau suffered a mild concussion on Wednesday, and after being evaluated by doctors in Detroit, decided to withdraw from the Midsummer Classic. Morneau missed three straight games before leaving Detroit on Saturday to return to Minnesota for further evaluations, thus missing Sunday's series finale, as well.
Cabrera was announced as the starter in Morneau's place on Saturday after the Tigers defeated the Twins, 7-4, to lock up the series victory. Morneau edged Cabrera in the fan voting, despite a late push by the Tigers slugger. White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko replaced Morneau on the AL roster.
"If I don't play here, I'm not going to go there," Morneau said before Saturday's game. "Obviously, if I can't play for my team, I'm not going to fly out there and run around for two days."
Although Cabrera is excited for his first start in five appearances at the All-Star Game, he wishes it could have come under better circumstances.
"Who wouldn't like being in the All-Star Game starting?" Cabrera said. "But the way that it happens with somebody hurt, I think that's not the right way, because he deserves to be starting. The people voted for him and he won the fan vote. People want to see him. Everybody feels bad for him, because he can't go because he is hurt. I will not feel happy because somebody is hurt."
Cabrera hit a two-run homer in the first inning of Tuesday's win against the Twins to extend his hitting streak to a career-high 18 games. He will be the first Tigers player to start in the All-Star Game since 2007.
"Justin was voted in and obviously that's a great thing," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "But certainly, I'd have to say that's a pretty good replacement."
Verlander's new pickoff move pays off
DETROIT -- Tigers ace Justin Verlander is known for recording outs via strikeout. On Friday, he got two outs in an unorthodox fashion.
Verlander recorded two pickoffs en route to his 11th win. He accomplished a similar feat on Sept. 19, 2006, against the White Sox, which marked the last time a Tigers pitcher has picked off two runners in a game.
Verlander picked off Denard Span in the first inning and Orlando Hudson in the sixth, both with similar moves back to first base. Against a divisional rival, and on a day where Twins hitters were getting to Verlander, the extra two outs were a huge boost for the Tigers.
The success on the pickoffs came as a result of a new move established by the right-hander. Instead of going straight to first base to hold the runner on, Verlander focused on holding the ball a little bit longer.
"It's something I know that I needed to do," Verlander said. "There was an adjustment that I made that I felt let me come set, then make a decision from there instead of having that twitch that tells me to go to first. I'm able to take a second and think about it. I'm able to come set and come over. Before, every time I came set, I was coming home, and every time I was picking, it was almost immediate."
The two pickoffs were Verlander's firsts of the season, mainly because he had stuck with the same move when holding a runner on and opposing teams knew what to expect. But against the Twins, he opted to unveil his new move.
"He's worked with that and I give him a lot of credit," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "He always throws over on his way up. Everybody in the league knew that. Once he comes set, he never threw over and he's kind of slow to home, so they were just taking off. He's worked on it. He's coming set a little bit longer and they got a little antsy, so we picked them off."
Versatile Kelly shining on defense
DETROIT -- Don Kelly has only started 20 games for the Tigers this season. But when he enters the game off the bench, he makes his presence felt. Such was the case on Friday, when Kelly made an outstanding diving catch in the ninth inning to help preserve the Tigers' victory over the Twins.
Kelly entered the game in the sixth inning to pinch-run for Ryan Raburn. He remained in the game to play left field and came up with a sliding grab in foul territory in the ninth.
It was a highlight-reel defensive play and it came at the perfect time. The Tigers were desperate to get outs in the ninth inning and escape with the victory after reliever Ryan Perry entered in the ninth and gave the Tigers a late-game scare. The catch was just one in a string of outstanding grabs Kelly has made of late.
"It was a tremendous play," manager Jim Leyland said. "He's a really good outfielder."
But Leyland hasn't limited Kelly to outfield duties. Granted, he's played all three positions in the outfield, but Kelly has also played first and third base for the Tigers and has made appearances in 65 games for the club. His versatility and ability to enter late in the game and not miss a beat on defense has impressed Leyland so far this season.
"He's done a [great] job for us," Leyland said. "He's a great 25th player for us."
Alex DiFilippo is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.