DETROIT -- The Detroit Pistons' first-round pick, Brandon Knight, threw out the first pitch at Friday's game.
Knight, out of the University of Kentucky, was the eighth overall pick in Thursday's NBA draft. His pitch was lobbed high in the air, but it didn't bounce, and it may have even caught the corner of the strike zone.
Inge returns to team, likes getting pop back
DETROIT -- Brandon Inge wants to play baseball, not watch it.
After going on the 15-day disabled list with mononucleosis and going through a seven-game rehab assignment, Inge is back with the Tigers. He went 1-for-4 Friday night in his return.
In the seven games in Toledo, Inge hit .250 (7-for-28), but had two home runs on Tuesday. It took time for Inge to get his strength back, but after dealing with some sickness since early May, Inge feels the strongest offensively he has all season.
"I went down there and the first two or three games, I felt like I probably couldn't even hit a ball off a tee," Inge said. "It was pretty bad. Then slowly and surely, the strength started coming back a little bit more and it's still getting better every day. Timing was getting better, just seeing the ball jump off the bat better was very encouraging. I definitely feel better now."
- 131 wins
- 121 wins
This season, Inge has hit just .212 with one home run. Inge has never hit for average in his career, but has always had some pop in his bat. With his strength finally back, the hope is Inge will be able to contribute more offensively.
While he was out, Inge just couldn't bear to watch the Tigers. He followed how they were doing, but he said his attention span has never been long enough to watch a game.
"I followed, but I promise you I wasn't sitting down watching every pitch," he said. "I can't do it. When I was a kid, I'd go watch my brother's Little League games and I was the kid who was playing cup ball underneath the stands. I never watched a game in my life. I don't have the attention span to watch a game. I can play it, I just can't watch it."
Perry more relaxed in return to 'pen
DETROIT -- Standing at his locker in the clubhouse before Friday's game, there was something noticeably different about pitcher Ryan Perry: the smile across his face.
Three weeks ago, Perry couldn't seem to do much right -- having given up 14 runs in 10 1/3 innings with the Tigers. He was sent to Triple-A Toledo to work on mechanics and get away from the Major League pressure.
The move appears to have paid off so far.
In 16 1/3 innings in Toledo, Perry gave up five earned runs on 11 hits, while striking out 16 and walking three. The Tigers called him up on Friday.
On Friday, Perry pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings, giving up one hit and one walk to the Diamondbacks, lowering his ERA on the season from 12.19 to 9.95. He did throw a wild pitch, allowing an inherited runner to score, but overall, Perry pitched well.
"It felt great," Perry said. "Everything felt fluid out there. I felt really comfortable throwing pitches where I wanted to, so that was good."
Perry changed his mechanics, going back to a wind-up with no runners on base -- something the 24-year-old hadn't done since his days at the University of Arizona. The mechanical changes were a result of watching a lot of film from both his college and pro days.
"Just watching a lot of video over the last couple weeks and [seeing] how my mechanics have changed over the years and just really focused on getting back to how I was in college and my first year, year and a half of pro ball," Perry said of his focus in Toledo.
Perry said he felt he got out of rhythm as a result of drills and that his mechanics had become "too mechanical." He decided to go back to the wind-up to get his flow back and found success.
"That's something that no one's ever screwed with before so I felt like I can go to that and give me what my natural flow is," Perry said. "It's really helped me stay on top of the ball a lot better. My arm angle is a little lower, which I've said before, I think it's been raised."
Perry has been able to locate his pitches much better since adjusting his mechanics and plans to carry that success over now that he's back up with the Tigers.
"I just feel more comfortable on the mound," Perry said. "Previously, I just felt like I was throwing in someone else's body. My mechanics didn't feel right, I didn't feel like I was throwing like me, I felt like I was throwing like someone else wanted me to."
Tigers manager Jim Leyland was excited to bring back Perry to take a spot in the previously lefty-heavy bullpen. Now Leyland can mix things up more, which he believes will be a key to success for the rest of the season.
"He think he's found some things there and we got very good reports on his performances down there. ... Also using his changeup to left-hand hitters, which I think is very essential," Leyland said. "I also think that Ryan Perry, without putting any pressure on him, I also think that he could be a huge key to our second-half."
Furbush might be a starter in the future
DETROIT -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland isn't quite sure what to make of Charlie Furbush.
Leyland initially thought of turning Furbush into a relief pitcher. The unique delivery of the left-hander made him ideal for a reliever. But the wide variety of pitches and other attributes led to Leyland changing his mind.
"I thought there was a strong possibility, just when I saw him and what I've seen, that Furbush was probably a Major League reliever, but I think I'm wrong," Leyland said. "I think he's a starter. To get him some innings out there like I have up to this point, two or three [at] a time sometimes, I think will be beneficial to him, rather than making him a lefty specialist."
Furbush has been with the Tigers since being called up on May 21. Since then, Furbush has scattered five earned runs and 16 hits over 19 innings with 16 strikeouts. He pitched at least 2 2/3 innings in four of his first five appearances, but since then, he has pitched more than one inning just once.
It has been an adjustment for Furbush to get used to relief, but he has adjusted well.
"I'm doing as best I can, trying to learn from other guys that have been doing it their whole careers and kind of see day in and day out what kind of stuff they do in terms of mentally approaching each inning, each batter, each situation," he said. "I've been learning a lot."
Although he's used to being a starter, Furbush is filling whatever role Leyland asks of him. Leyland has changed his mind on the future of Furbush, and wants to get the 25-year-old more innings and more experience, much of which can come from long relief.
"Ever since getting drafted, I've been a starter," Furbush said. "I feel like I've kind of been a starter. I just kind of take it as it goes. I really don't try to think too much or too deep into it. Just kind of take it a day at a time, see what happens, not get too far ahead of myself."
Gibson appreciates time in Detroit
DETROIT -- Kirk Gibson won plenty of games in Detroit. Now he's trying to do it from the other side.
The former Tiger and current manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks grew up in Michigan and is a local legend. Although the Tigers are set to honor Gibson's former manager Sparky Anderson on Sunday, Gibson's duty first and foremost is to come home, win games, and keep fighting for a National League West crown.
"The thing about it is, the fact that it's the Tigers doesn't add any incentive for me at all," Gibson said. "When we played Kansas City, I always have that knot in my stomach before a game. I want to play a good game. I want to play it the right way. And there's always that risk that you won't do that, whether it's Kansas City, whether it's Detroit."
But don't get Gibson wrong, it's definitely special coming home. Gibson was born in Waterford, Mich., was a football and baseball star at Michigan State University, and played 12 seasons with the Tigers, which included the magical 1984 season that ended with a World Series victory.
"I appreciate my time here, for sure," Gibson said. "I grew up here, as you guys all know. I went to Michigan State and got to play in Tiger Stadium, where I watched games as a little kid. We developed together as an organization. We grew up together. We captured a World Championship together.
"We'll never forget that. But it's the same when I went to Los Angeles. We won a World Championship there, but now they're the enemy, and the Tigers are the enemy."
Gibson was named full-time manager of the Diamondbacks after being interim manager for the second half of last season. He was a coach under former Tiger and current Arizona bench coach Alan Trammell when Trammell was the Tigers manager from 2003-05. Only five Tigers players are left from those three years, and only two from their first team in 2003 -- which lost an American League-record 119 games.
One of those two, Brandon Inge, was excited to see the pair of coaches again. Inge said Trammell had some "tough luck" in his time as Tigers manager, but greatly respected what the two did for the Tigers organization over the past 30-plus years.
"He was fun to play for," Inge said of Gibson. "I had a lot of memorable years playing under him or around him as well. He's a smart guy. He knows baseball in and out. I knew he'd be [a] manager one day because he knows too much about the game to not be managing somewhere.
"To play against him though, I like it, because no matter who he's friends with, he always wants to beat them. I know how competitive he is. It's good to play against him."
Chris Vannini is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.