04/26/2013 9:05 PM ET
Dirks still dealing with soreness in right knee
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
DETROIT -- By all indications, Andy Dirks won the primary starting duties in left field out of Spring Training. Just under a month into the season, however, Dirks has not been an everyday player, even against right-handed starters.
The Spring Training right knee injury he sustained crashing into the fence at Joker Marchant Stadium might explain why.
"He couldn't play yesterday. His knee was sore," manager Jim Leyland said Friday afternoon. "[It's] better today, but I'm not sure about playing him. That's been an off-and-on thing."
Dirks wouldn't have started Friday's series opener against the Braves regardless, not with a left-handed pitcher on the mound. Matt Tuiasosopo started in left against Paul Maholm, and presumably will do the same Sunday night against lefty Mike Minor.
It's the starts against right-handers that have been affected. Don Kelly's start in left on Thursday was his fourth of the year. Dirks has started 12 games, the fewest of anybody who was in Detroit's Opening Day lineup.
Dirks has struggled at the plate, batting .167 (8-for-48) with a double and four RBIs. His 12 strikeouts in 58 plate appearances is a higher rate than his previous two Major League seasons.
He has played more than two consecutive days only once this season, a four-day stretch last week on the West Coast trip. That might not be a coincidence, given that the West Coast trip is the one stretch of consistently decent weather the Tigers have enjoyed this season.
"He's just had a couple of continued flareups," head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said. "He still has some inflammation in and around the joint, and as a result, I think he probably had a little bit more of a reaction to the cold weather the other night. I think that kind of bothered him a little bit. And so we just have to treat it symptomatically."
Coke out of action with left groin strain
DETROIT -- The Tigers weren't likely to pitch Phil Coke on Friday night regardless, considering he threw 33 pitches in defeat Thursday. A left groin strain, however, sidelined him for certain. Whether it impacts his availability for the rest of the weekend remains to be seen.
"He's better today and so he's kind of a day-to-day guy at this point in time," head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said Friday afternoon, "but it'll probably be a couple days."
Coke felt the strain on a pitch Thursday but tried to keep working. He ended up taking the loss with four runs on a hit and four walks over 1 1/3 innings.
However long it lasts, Coke's absence potentially puts the Tigers in a tricky situation with the left-handed segment of their bullpen. Darin Downs would likely be the primary southpaw if Detroit needs an out against a left-handed hitter. The Braves don't have many, but Freddie Freeman and Juan Francisco are two worth worrying about.
Drew Smyly, who has done everything from long relief to specialist work, could end up filling the gap. With the weather forecast looking good for the weekend, Smyly's chances of long relief might drop, though Rick Porcello has to avoid an early exit on Saturday.
Prince goes classical with walk-up music
DETROIT -- Prince Fielder might qualify as a classic left-handed slugger. He now qualifies as a classical hitter.
When Fielder stepped to the plate for his first at-bat Thursday afternoon, his at-bat music was different -- not just for him, but for any Major League hitter. It was Mozart's Requiem, classical music with a dramatic tone.
It has shown up in movies, which is where Fielder apparently received the inspiration.
"I liked the Batman sound, the superhero sound," Fielder said.
Fielder has been known to change his walk-up music more than once during a season, and he has toyed around with different ideas for his at-bats. This, however, was a new one.
"I don't know, I liked it," Fielder said.
Cabrera teams with PLB Sports for 'Miggy's Salsa'
DETROIT -- Just like Miguel Cabrera followed in Justin Verlander's footsteps to American League MVP honors, he's now following his Tigers teammate to the supermarket aisle. It isn't a cereal, but a salsa.
Cabrera and PLB Sports, the same company that produced Verlander's Fastball Flakes this year, are teaming up for "Miggy's Salsa." Available in 16-ounce jars in mild, medium and hot flavors, the salsa will be sold for a limited time at Meijer stores in the Detroit, Lansing, Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids areas.
Cabrera will donate a portion of the proceeds toward the Miguel Cabrera Foundation, which has helped fund renovations for youth baseball fields in Detroit, Miami and his native Venezuela.
Blister shouldn't keep Verlander from next start
DETROIT -- Justin Verlander's blister is not expected to hold him back from his next scheduled start Tuesday against the Twins, head athletic trainer Kevin Rand confirmed Friday.
Rand is classifying it as a crack in the skin near the fingernail of Verlander's right thumb.
"He's dealt with it before," Rand said. "Basically, it's a crack in the skin just like regular people working outside. Unfortunately, the location of it in the thumb area caused him to not be able to pitch coming out in the eighth inning [Thursday]."
Verlander is receiving treatment for it, which is expected to clear it up in time to allow him to prepare for his start.
• Octavio Dotel continues to receive treatment for inflammation in his right elbow and has not started throwing again, according to Rand. Dotel will resume throwing only when the inflammation symptoms are gone. When the Tigers placed Dotel on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday, Leyland said the hope was that a few days of rest would clear up the swelling so that he could start throwing on a Minor League rehab assignment.
• Cabrera received his 2012 Tiger of the Year award Friday afternoon from members of the Detroit chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
• Avisail Garcia went 0-for-4 Thursday night in the first game of his rehab assignment for Class A Lakeland. Garcia has been on the 15-day disabled list since the last week of Spring Training with a bruised right heel.