07/24/06 8:15 PM ET
Notes: Polanco eyes Tuesday return
Infielder feels fine, minus swelling from beaning
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
He remembers Esteban Loaiza's pitch hitting his jaw Sunday and everything that happened afterwards. But he still caught the replay on ESPN to see how it looked.
"When it happens, you don't know [how bad it is]," Polanco said Monday in between rolls of an ice pack over his swollen left jaw. "You're in the emotion of the game and you don't know. But when you see it on TV, you go, 'Wow!' "
The swelling was still significant, as if he had a wad of gum in his mouth, and he still felt a little light-headed. However, he was talking normally and able to chew solid foods. While he hopes he could be back in the lineup Tuesday, Leyland was weighing the idea of resting him one more day and starting him Wednesday against Indians lefty C.C. Sabathia.
"I'm not sure," Leyland said. "I'm going to sleep on that."
Starting Tuesday would be quite a feat after that kind of impact, but Polanco remembers trying to convince Leyland to keep him in the game right after it happened.
"I remember everything," Polanco said. "I remember talking to everybody, saying, 'I'm OK. I'm OK. Just give me a minute or two, maybe I'll get back.' He said, 'No, you're out!'"
Polanco believes the ball hit him directly in the face, rather than glancing off his helmet as previous reports indicated. He does not believe it was on purpose. A purpose pitch, he said, would've been thrown harder and more towards his midsection, not at his head.
Omar Infante started in Polanco's place Monday. Because the Tigers optioned Ramon Santiago to Triple-A Toledo last Friday, Infante is the only infielder on the bench, putting Leyland in a bind. Should another injury arise in the middle infield, third baseman Brandon Inge could conceivably shift over and Dmitri Young move into the hot corner. But at this point, Leyland said he'll only consider using Young at third base or the outfield in an emergency situation.
As for Polanco's spot in the order, Leyland batted left fielder Craig Monroe second, following his trend of putting some power in the second slot when Polanco isn't there.
"I like some thump in that second hole when I don't play [Polanco]," Leyland said.
Getting the calls: One of the more underrated jobs a catcher does sometimes is too subtle to notice watching him behind the plate. But it's significant enough that it put Frank Thomas in a huff Sunday.
Thomas, you may remember, was ejected by home-plate umpire Adam Dowdy for continuing to argue a called third strike all the way to the dugout. Asked about it after the game, Thomas said it was the inconsistency of the call that riled him.
"If [Dowdy] was calling that pitch consistently, all day long, I've got no problem with that," Thomas said Sunday. "I felt he got worked by [Tigers catcher Ivan Rodriguez] and that's the catcher's job. ...
"They're going to miss from time to time. It's a tough job back there. Nobody's perfect. But don't [let yourself] get worked by the opposing catcher."
Sometimes selling a call is as simple as holding the ball for an extra second or two to show where it hit in relation to the strike zone. Other times it involves exchanging words. The key is to never show up an ump.
Leyland, the former Minor League catcher, doesn't buy much into it.
"I think that's overrated," he said. "That works both ways. Umpires are very smart guys. They're very sharp. Sometimes people think that works for you. I think it probably works against you more. You get guys trying to sneak pitches in [the strike zone]. Does it happen from time to time? Maybe, but overall I think it hurts you more. Just catch the ball."
Sanchez misses start: Top pitching prospect Humberto Sanchez, known more lately for his inclusion in the well-chornicled Alfonso Soriano trade talks than for his recent performances, drew alarm bells when he was scratched from his scheduled start Monday for Triple-A Toledo.
Sanchez was scratched with tenderness in his pitching elbow. He's considered day-to-day, odd as that sounds for a starting pitcher.
"[The injury] is hard to explain," Sanchez told reporters in Toledo. "It's just uncomfortable for me to throw. I know I can go out there now and my body can take the toll, but there's two months left in the season."
Sanchez is the second Tigers pitching prospect rumored to be on the block to miss time with an injury. Double-A Erie hurler Jair Jurrjens missed his scheduled start Friday with neck stiffness stemming from a minor car accident earlier that day. He's expected to return to the mound for the SeaWolves on Wednesday.
Coming up: The Tigers get their third chance to try to solve longtime nemesis Paul Byrd (7-6, 4.28 ERA), who has limited Detroit to two earned runs in 14 innings over two starts this season for Cleveland. Kenny Rogers (11-3, 3.97 ERA), trying to stretch his unbeaten streak to 10 starts, takes the mound for the Tigers. Game time is 7:05 p.m. ET.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.