DETROIT -- Max Scherzer sounds fairly confident he'll start for the Tigers on Sunday after testing his shoulder in a throwing session Friday afternoon. His manager wants a little more assurance that he's healthy before he makes his final decision.
Welcome to the tug and pull of an injured pitcher down the stretch in a playoff chase.
"Max feels real good," Jim Leyland said. "Max might feel good, but in the back of my mind, am I taking a chance with this guy for his future? For the Tigers' future? It's always a tough call. It's not easy, because I don't know: Does this thing lead to something else?"
Scherzer threw for about five minutes off flat ground in Comerica Park's outfield, basically just enough to see how his arm felt in something resembling his normal delivery. He said the inflammation that had been bothering him is gone.
"I'm expecting I should be able to make the start, seeing how my arm has responded to the treatment and the medicine," Scherzer said. "I'm getting the inflammation out. This wasn't a structural damage thing. This was just inflammation. After talking to doctors and realizing there's no structural damage, I don't have any fears or anything about hurting my arm any further. For me right now, it feels like the inflammation's out, so my arm feels good."
Scherzer will throw again on Saturday, mixing in his full arsenal to make sure he can go. It's an unusual move for a pitcher that close to his start, but it's out of caution.
Only after that session will Leyland and the team medical staff make the decision.
"I'll have to be totally convinced by our medical team, which is excellent," Leyland said. "But that clearance will have to come from them."
Leyland said he'll have Drew Smyly on hold for the next couple days until they know whether they'll need him to start Sunday. Smyly threw Thursday afternoon, entering with a bases-loaded situation in the ninth inning, but it basically amounted to a mound session like he would normally do before a start. He'll throw a little bit before the games this weekend, but nothing extensive.
Gardenhire believes Cabrera deserves MVP honors
DETROIT -- Add Twins manager Ron Gardenhire to the list of people in the game weighing in on the Miguel Cabrera-Mike Trout American League MVP debate.
"I haven't seen Trout out there since the first of the season. I know he's had a heckuva year and people are saying this and that about him. I'm just tipping my hat to Cabrera. He's the best player in this league. He should be the MVP," Gardenhire told reporters on Friday.
Friday was the 13th time the Twins have seen Cabrera this season. He batted .438 (21-for-48) with five doubles, four home runs and 20 RBIs. He has driven in more runs against the Twins this year than against any other opponent except the Indians, a fact which will likely change with five more Twins-Tigers tilts starting Saturday.
"If we were to stop right now, there's no doubt in my mind," Gardenhire said. "Going for a Triple Crown, that's an MVP season. He has his team in a playoff hunt. Whether they get there or not can't solely depend upon him, but he's the reason they're in it right now. And that's an MVP. He's the best player in our league."
To Gardenhire, the Triple Crown still means a lot.
"All I'm going to tell you is, if you're going for a Triple Crown and you've got his numbers, you can saber all you want to," he said. "Those numbers blow your brain. And I know Trout's do, too. That's pretty good numbers. A couple of other guys have decent numbers. But look at Cabrera's numbers. That's ridiculous. That's right up there with some of the best players in baseball. It doesn't make much sense to me to be arguing about this to tell you the truth."
Infante hoping to iron out defensive struggles
DETROIT -- They've been different plays in different situations, but Omar Infante's error total in his Tigers reunion has climbed to startling levels. His wayward throw on Thursday's double play attempt marked his ninth error in 49 games with the Tigers this season.
Dating back to July 24, Infante's first game back after his trade from Miami, no other Major League second baseman has more than five errors in that span.
The only concern Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he has with Infante's defense has come on double plays and the footwork he makes on his relay throw to first. He does not believe the error totals have gotten to him.
"It's kind of amazing, but with all these different types of double plays -- one yesterday was different than some other ones -- I think he might be a little confused right now as to which turn you're supposed to make," Leyland said. "And [infield coach Rafael Belliard] has worked with him. I think it's a little bit of a confusion thing, but he's fine.
"He's also made some great plays since he's been here."
Infante said Monday in Chicago that he felt like he was playing tight for some reason.
One scout who watched Infante this summer ahead of the trade said this week he never saw those types of miscues from Infante on double plays when he was a Marlin.