09/16/10 2:03 AM ET
Tigers' Wells keeps up torrid start to career
Rookie collects four hits in four at-bats on Tuesday
By Todd Wills / Special to MLB.com
Wells became the second Tigers rookie to be perfect at the plate in at least four at-bats this season -- center fielder Austin Jackson had five hits in as many at-bats on April 30 vs. the Angels. It's the first time the Tigers have had this feat happen since 1974 when Gene Lamont and Marvin Lane did it.
"Looking at it at the end of the day, it's pretty special," Wells said. "But it's not as satisfying when the team doesn't win."
Wells, 25, had 20 hits in his first 56 at-bats in the big leagues. He's had two home runs and 10 RBIs in the last 14 games, as he's begun an early audition for next season. He's not thinking about things like that, but he does know the Tigers' top decision-makers are paying attention.
"Any time you're up in the big leagues," Wells said, "unless you're in a situation where you're an established player getting a contract, you're going to be under the microscope and auditioning to get a starting role someday and to kind of get that contract and add some stability. It's not the first thing that crosses my mind that I'm playing for next year. I don't think about it during the game."
Manager Jim Leyland said it's important for Wells to play now, but not anymore important than it is for Johnny Damon or Brandon Inge.
"It's important for the veterans and the young guys," Leyland said. "It's important for everybody."
Irked by calls, Leyland tossed after fourth
ARLINGTON -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland was ejected after the fourth inning of Wednesday's 11-7 loss to Texas at Rangers Ballpark.
Leyland didn't comment about the ejection after the game.
Tigers catcher Gerald Laird said that Leyland was frustrated about several calls over the past two nights.
Leyland pointed to the right-field foul pole several times while arguing with crew chief Jerry Layne after being ejected. The Rangers' David Murphy was awarded a home run in Tuesday's 11-4 loss even though video replays appeared to indicate that the ball went foul. Layne went for a video review and came back out and said there was nothing conclusive in the replays to overturn the call.
The Tigers were also upset about a few other calls, notably when Ian Kinsler appeared to take strike three and start to walk toward the dugout during Tuesday's game. The pitch was called a ball, Kinsler remained at the plate and the Rangers produced a big inning.
Leyland also appeared to be upset with a check-swing call in favor of Rangers third baseman Michael Young in the fourth inning on Wednesday. Young ended up with a sacrifice fly and Murphy followed with a three-run home run as the Rangers took an 8-2 lead.
"We didn't play our best baseball in this series and he got frustrated with some of the calls," Laird said. "He's going to back his team up. We have all the respect in the world for him. He felt like he needed to take a stand. That got us going and we battled back." The Tigers did pull within 9-7 in the seventh before Kinsler belted a two-run home run for an 11-7 lead.
Jackson's strikeout total doesn't worry Leyland
ARLINGTON -- Tigers rookie center fielder Austin Jackson leads the American League with a .416 batting average when he puts the ball in play. He also leads the AL with 155 strikeouts.
Jackson, competing for American League Rookie of the Year honors with Texas closer Neftali Feliz, could compete for a batting title one day if he keeps putting the ball in play and reaching base. So is it important now for him to cut back his strikeouts and put the ball in play more often?
"Important, yes, but to sit here and make a big deal about it is a mistake," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "He's a rookie. He's struck out some. There's a lot of guys that strike out. If he cuts them down, that will be big.
"Right now, I don't want him to start patty-caking the ball not to strike out. So I don't like to talk about it. That's what guys do when they start shortening up to put the ball in play instead of swinging the bat, and I don't want that. I like the way he swings that."
Jackson is hitting .302 and has scored a rookie-best 94 runs and likely will go over 100 this season. He has the potential to score even more runs by cutting back on his strikeouts. It's still not a concern right now.
"What do you want a guy to do?" Leyland said. "This is his rookie season. Let him settle in, let him have his year and improve as he goes along. Look, you can't make stuff happen faster than it's supposed to happen. That's a big mistake when people do that."
Tigers trying to get work in for Valverde
ARLINGTON -- The Tigers are still trying to get closer Jose Valverde, who hasn't pitched since Sept. 6 against the Chicago White Sox, back in action.
Valverde, who has been out with tenderness in his right elbow, didn't get used Tuesday night with the Tigers on the road and trailing in the ninth inning. But manager Jim Leyland said he would try to get Valverde in Wednesday's game if he can, leading or trailing.
"If he feels like really, really good, I want to pitch him," Leyland said. "If there's a little lingering there, I probably won't. But he has to pitch."
Reliever Robbie Weinhardt was not available for Wednesday night's game after getting hit in the elbow by a ground ball in Tuesday's 11-4 loss. Weinhardt allowed three runs in the bottom of the sixth to take the loss. ... Catcher Gerald Laird said his back was fine after catching nine innings Tuesday night, but he was out of the lineup Wednesday with Alex Avila getting the start.
Todd Wills is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.