Leyland would support Verlander for MVP
Though against pitchers winning award, Tigers skipper backs ace
MINNEAPOLIS -- Jim Leyland does not think pitchers should be eligible for the Most Valuable Player Award. But that does not mean he won't support Justin Verlander for American League MVP.
Leyland wanted to make that point very clear.
"I will support Justin Verlander 110 percent for the MVP," Leyland said Saturday. "Under the current system, I'll push like hell for Justin Verlander for the MVP. And the people who do the voting can vote however they want to vote."
Leyland said he believes there should be separate awards, one for the most valuable pitcher, and one for the most valuable player. And the award for the pitcher would be in addition to the Cy Young Award, which is given to the best pitcher each season.
Of course, the Cy Young Award trophy already says "most valuable pitcher" on it.
Verlander's dominant season -- he improved his mark to 20-5 with a 2.38 ERA in Saturday's 6-4 win over the Twins -- has not only made the Tigers' ace a frontrunner for the AL Cy Young Award, but has also put his name in the conversation for MVP honors.
A pitcher has been named MVP only three times in the past 30 years.
"I just want to make sure that somebody doesn't think that I won't support Justin, my own player, for the MVP," Leyland said. "Under the current system, I will support him 110 percent.
"But that wasn't what I was asked. I was asked if I thought a pitcher should be MVP."
Tigers option Worth to make room for Kelly
MINNEAPOLIS -- Tigers infielder Danny Worth was optioned to Triple-A Toledo after Saturday's 6-4 victory over the Twins with utility man Don Kelly set to rejoin the club Sunday.
Kelly was away from the club for the first two games of the weekend to be with his wife, Carrie, who gave birth Friday morning to their second child.
Worth, who was called up to fill Kelly's spot on the roster, played Friday night as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning at second base. In 19 games (seven starts) this year for the Tigers, Worth is batting .300 (9-for-30) with two doubles and three RBIs.
Porcello flashes brilliance after settling down
MINNEAPOLIS -- When right-hander Rick Porcello settles down and relaxes more on the mound, he is a better pitcher. He showed that in Friday's 8-1 win over the Twins, going from nearly letting the game get out of hand in the first and second innings to dominating the final 4 1/3 frames.
"His breaking ball gets better," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said of what changes when Porcello settles down, "and he gets better sink."
Leyland said that Friday night's outing was as well as Porcello has ever done in adjusting midgame, to switch from rushing to settling down.
But the key seems to be getting Porcello to do just that.
Leyland reminded Porcello not to rush things at Target Field, that he could not pitch the fifth inning before getting through the first four.
"It seems like he's, for whatever reason, in a hurry to win a game," Leyland said. "Instead of letting it just happen, it's like he can't wait to get to the seventh inning to see if he's got the lead. That's exaggerating, but that's kind of the way he's got to back off a little bit."
Inge's glovework a sign of what Tigers need
MINNEAPOLIS -- With a runner on and one out in the bottom of the fifth inning Friday night, Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge made an impressive diving stop and threw from one knee to get the out at first by half a step.
It was a vintage Inge play, something that has been rare this season. The veteran third baseman has struggled to the point of being designated for assignment last month and playing 29 games at Triple-A Toledo.
"Tremendous," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "A huge play. He got a sacrifice down, got a base hit, made a great play. That's the kind of contribution we need."
Before spending a month in the Minors, Inge played in 70 of the Tigers' first 96 games. He batted .177 with a .483 OPS over that span, with just 10 extra-base hits and 17 RBIs. Inge also struggled defensively, and his performance played a major role in the Tigers acquiring Wilson Betemit from the Royals in late July.
Inge has played in seven games since returning to the big leagues, batting .267 (4-for-15) with a home run and a double. He did not enter the game Saturday in Minnesota for the first time since his return, though he has only started twice.
Like Inge, right fielder Magglio Ordonez has struggled this season, batting just .230 with four home runs, seven doubles and 24 RBIs in 77 games. Since the acquisition of Delmon Young from the Twins, Ordonez has played in just four of 11 games.
"It's good to get everybody in there, everybody playing and everybody making a contribution," Leyland said. "I know it's a tough situation for them, but they're making the best out of it, and they've been great teammates about it. I'm just thrilled when they get in there and do something."
Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.