DETROIT -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland doesn't like losing the designated hitter when American League clubs go on the road to National League parks during Interleague Play. But with a six-game trip to Colorado and Los Angeles, it's looking more likely that he'll use Alex Avila at third base to get Avila and Victor Martinez into the same lineup.
Leyland raised the idea Tuesday as an idea he was toying with. Avila, who played third base during part of his collegiate career at Alabama, has been taking ground balls every day since. Now, Leyland said, he's weighing whether to start Avila at third in Friday's series opener against the Rockies at Coors Field.
Leyland sounded pleasantly surprised to hear that Indians manager Manny Acta also complained about the DH issue for AL teams in Interleague Play.
"You mean I'm not the only guy? I thought I was the only [jerk]," Leyland joked.
"I don't want to belabor the point, but it just doesn't seem sensible. We live with the DH. That's what we do in our league. When you have that, and when you lose it for six straight days, that doesn't make a lot of sense to me."
Cleveland will actually lose the DH for nine straight games. The Indians go on the road to San Francisco, Arizona and Cincinnati beginning June 24.
Inge set to begin rehab assignment
DETROIT -- While the Tigers head out west for Interleague Play, Brandon Inge will be on the road with Triple-A Toledo for International League play. The Tigers confirmed Thursday morning that Inge is headed out with the Mud Hens on a Minor League rehab assignment.
Inge, who went on the 15-day disabled list two weeks ago with mononucleosis, will join the Hens on Thursday night at Louisville and serve as their designated hitter. From there, he's expected to take his usual spot at third base for the remainder of what's scheduled to be a six-game assignment. Once that stretch ends, Inge will most likely be ready to return for the Tigers' next homestand, which begins June 24.
It'll be Inge's first stint with the Mud Hens since 2008, when he spent three games on a rehab assignment.
In this case, a rehab assignment initially seemed to be in question. Inge had said earlier in the week that he wanted to come back with the Tigers as soon as possible. After picking up his activity beyond batting practice and ground balls, however, he said he thought better of it.
"I know usually I want to come back as fast as I can, and I still do," Inge said. "But after working out the first two days, I realized I need to go, because it's different. It's like once you have to do something physical, it's a different type of tired. I think I need to let my body get back into the daily grind."
In other words, Inge needs time to get back into baseball shape after not being able to do much while mono drained his energy.
"I'm going to make sure I'm right before I come back," Inge said. "I have the energy. It's just that when you do physical activity, then it's draining right after. From game to game, that's what I need to know and see what my recovery level's like. I'm not extremely worried about it. I just think it's necessary. That's all."
Tigers announce signing of Draft picks
DETROIT -- The Tigers announced Thursday that they've signed 20 of their picks so far from last week's First-Year Player Draft.
The highest of the picks to sign was fourth-round selection Jason King, a third baseman from Kansas State University. In fact, 19 of the 20 signees were college products.
Colin Kaline, grandson of Tigers Hall of Famer Al Kaline, was among the signees, as was Nick Avila, nephew of Tigers assistant general manager Al Avila. Avila, a former Nova Southeastern University (Fla.) infielder, is expected to begin his pro career at short-season Class A Connecticut. Michigan State outfielders Jeff Holm (12th round) and Brandon Eckerle (32nd round) also signed, as did Western Michigan right-handers Brian Stroud (31st round) and Eric Heckaman (35th round) and Central Michigan right-hander Jake Sabol (36th round)
Other signees include Wichita State left-hander Brian Flynn (seventh round), Kentucky outfielder Chad Wright (ninth round), Alabama-Birmingham right-hander Ryan Woolley (13th), Puerto Rico International Baseball Academy outfielder Ismael Salgado (16th), Lewis-Clark State lefty Tyler Barrett (20th), Mississippi left-hander Matt Crouse (24th), Minnesota right-hander Scott Matyas (27th), Cal-San Diego righty Guido Knudson (28th), Coahoma Community College righty Montreal Robertson (29th), Missouri State righty Daniel Kickham (33rd) and Florida Southern catcher Zachary Maggard (34th).
Leyland still conflicted about leaving Rockies
DETROIT -- When Jim Leyland abruptly stepped down from the Colorado Rockies more than a decade ago, he thought he'd never manage again. Twelve years later, and six years into his Tigers managerial tenure, he'll return to Denver for the first time since then.
It's part of Leyland's past, and the way it ended is still something that bothers him. And he continues to pin the blame on himself.
"I loved Denver," Leyland said. "I was treated good. I just didn't feel I could manage a pitching staff there, and I stunk. I was treated tremendously by the organization, the people."
The pitching staff remark was a reference to the high-scoring games at Coors Field back then, and the toll it took on pitchers. Though the Rockies ranked second in the league with 5.59 runs scored per game, their 6.01 team ERA ranked last in baseball. Balls flew in the high-altitude surroundings then, before such steps as a baseball humidor helped counter the impact of Denver's high altitude and thin air.
"It was almost impossible to manage a pitching staff when I was there," Leyland said. "A guy could pitch a good game and give up seven runs. ... It was frustrating for me. I'm a 4-3, 5-3, 3-2 manager. It's just different. But I did a lousy job. That's just the way it was.
"I didn't think I was going to manage again. And the fact that I was out six years pretty much tells you that. I was kind of burned out."
The fire returned, first with a managerial opening in Philadelphia that went to Charlie Manuel, then with the chance to manage the Tigers, a team Leyland had always wanted to manage from his years in the farm system. But the regret over Colorado, and his sudden resignation one season into a three-year contract, has never changed.