4/9/2013 6:56 P.M. ET
V-Mart out of lineup with cut right thumb
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
DETROIT -- Victor Martinez was out of the Tigers' lineup for Tuesday's series opener against the Blue Jays after cutting his right thumb on the bat rack in the dugout. He's listed as day to day.
Martinez was not available to hit at all Tuesday.
The cut happened after an at-bat in Sunday's series finale against the Yankees. The bat rack has a metal top with some bolt heads that rise out of the top, and Martinez sustained his cut on the top of his right thumb against the metal part of the rack.
The Tigers were off on Monday.
Andy Dirks took Martinez's place in the lineup as the designated hitter, batting fifth behind Prince Fielder. Don Kelly entered the starting lineup as the left fielder, batting eighth.
Martinez had a slow opening week at the plate. He showed no signs of rust in Spring Training, after he missed last season recovering from knee surgery. Martinez's 3-for-21 opening week included an 0-for-4 performance Sunday against the Yanks. He flew out to shallow center in his final at-bat with runners at the corners and one out against reliever David Robertson.
Hunter knocks career hit No. 2,000 in win
DETROIT -- Just 29 of Torii Hunter's 167 hits last year went to right field, according to baseball-reference.com. A week into the 2013 season, he's already better than 20 percent toward that opposite-field hit total.
Thanks in part to that opposite-field hitting, he reached the career 2,000-hit mark earlier in the season than many might have imagined.
Hunter's three hits Tuesday were all centered up the middle, not to the right side. The third of them, a sixth-inning line drive off Esmil Rogers, drew a standing ovation from a crowd of Tigers and Jays fans alike as the scoreboard mentioned the feat.
"It's awesome, man," Hunter said. "I'd been playing for the Twins for all those years, and when I'd come here, I still felt a little love. And now that I'm here, they've seen me play, they've seen me grow as a player. They saw a young 22-year-old Torii Hunter. They saw the 25-year-old, the 27-year-old, the 30-year-old.
"They saw me grow and play this game. To get 2,000 hits, I'm thankful that they showed the support."
Hunter already had a milestone in Detroit, even if it didn't occur as a Tiger. He hit his first Major League home run at Tiger Stadium on April 15, 1999, off Brian Moehler.
Hunter is showing an opposite-field ability batting second that he didn't have earlier in his career. He has had two hits to right field with Austin Jackson taking off from first, but neither of them have been hit-and-run plays, according to Tigers manager Jim Leyland. Instead, they've been reactions when Jackson has taken off.
"I think he's pretty professional at shooting the ball through the hole there when Jackson's on," Leyland said. "He's a smart player. He does a lot of things pretty smart, and he sees what's there. He tries to take what's there. I think that's how I'd put it."
Smyly's role can be critical in rainy April
DETROIT -- The weather forecast the next couple days calls for a high chance of Drew Smyly.
It's actually a high chance of rain. But if rain happens in the middle of the game, there's a very good chance Smyly is going to be utilized for long relief. Even after Smyly pitched two-thirds of an inning Tuesday, manager Jim Leyland said Smyly will be available if need be on Wednesday.
These are the times when Smyly's role becomes critical. If a starter gets roughed up early, there's a good chance the game is out of reach. An injury or an ejection to a starting pitcher can be a tougher situation, but it isn't that common.
Rain delays, especially in April, can put a premium on long relief. Tigers manager Jim Leyland will almost always bring his starter back if a rain delay lasts 45 minutes or less. If it lasts an hour or more, Leyland will usually go to his bullpen. In between, the decision usually comes down to the starting pitcher.
Smyly had two opportunities at long relief in the opening week. His first was an Opening Day struggle cut short in the middle of his second inning of work. His second was a four-inning save on Friday.
"I saw the first time, he probably pitched like a reliever," Leyland said. "The second game, he pitched like a starter."
Clearly, the Tigers would prefer the latter. Though he's a left-handed reliever, the presence of Phil Coke and Darin Downs means they don't need Smyly as a lefty specialist.
"When I come into an inning clear, I try to pitch like a starter," Smyly said.
If he's coming in with runners on base, Smyly said, he might change his pitch selection to try for a strikeout or a ground ball.
Garcia nears resuming baseball activities
DETROIT -- The Tigers are hoping to have outfielder Avisail Garcia resume baseball activities this week as he tries to work his way back from a bruised right heel.
Garcia hasn't played since March 16, when he injured his right heel trying to beat a throw to first base during Grapefruit League play. It's a longer absence than a bruise would normally suggest, but head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said it was a severe bruise on a player with a large body frame.
"He had a pretty significant heel injury," Rand said. "There was significant soft tissue swelling."
Garcia is putting his regular weight on the heel now without pain, Rand said.
When Garcia resumes game action, he'll do so in extended spring games. Once he is deemed ready to move on to the next step, he'll progress to Triple-A Toledo.
• Former University of Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson threw out the ceremonial first pitch Tuesday, a one-hopper that bounced to the edge of the dirt before reaching ceremonial catcher Smyly. Robinson, who was in Atlanta to watch the Michigan men's basketball team in the Final Four, flew back to Detroit on Tuesday morning to make it. "I babied it," Robinson said of the throw. "I should've just thrown the ball."
• The Miguel Cabrera Foundation and The Detroit Tigers Foundation raised more than $56,000 at the live auction at Cabrera's fundraising dinner Monday night. Cabrera also received a $10,000 donation personally from Hunter.