10/3/2013 9:35 P.M. ET
Roster finalized for ALDS; Peralta ready to contribute
By Jason Beck and Paul Hagen / MLB.com
OAKLAND -- The Tigers finalized their American League Division Series roster Thursday by opting to keep Jose Alvarez over Darin Downs as the second left-hander out of the bullpen, and Hernan Perez instead of Matt Tuiasosopo as a right-handed bat off the bench.
In addition, shortstop-turned-left fielder Jhonny Peralta will be available, although Andy Dirks will start in left for Game 1 against the Athletics on Friday night at O.co Coliseum.
The Tigers acquired Jose Iglesias to play short shortly before Peralta was suspended for 50 games for violating baseball's drug policy in August. When Peralta returned, the Tigers chose to keep Iglesias in the infield.
Asked how he plans to utilize Peralta as the series progresses, Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he'd take it game by game.
"I'm just going to use some statistical analysis, some gut feeling, a combination of those things," Leyland said. "We'll play it by ear. Basically what you do is, like every other manager, you put out the lineup that gives you the best chance to win that particular game."
Peralta said he'll take extra fly balls in Oakland to familiarize himself with the backdrop.
"I need to take some [practice]. I'd like to see how the field looks and everything," Peralta said. "That's important.
Peralta added that his mindset won't change, regardless of his role with the Tigers.
"Not starting the ALDS opener won't matter one way or the other," Peralta said. "Starting [Friday], starting whatever day, it's going to be the same. Same game. I'll try to do the best I can and whatever happens will happen.
"When I came back, they [just] said they wanted to see me practice in the outfield. Nothing about playoffs. Just come here and practice and be ready for whenever we need you. They know what I can do. From the beginning of the season, I did pretty good hitting No. 6 in the lineup. They might need me to pinch-hit. Whatever they want to use me for."
And he never doubted he'd be on the playoff roster, even after missing almost two months.
"They didn't need to say I'm on the team," Peralta said. "I'm here."
Tigers aim to bounce back after last meeting with A's
OAKLAND -- The Tigers hosted the Athletics in a four-game series from Aug. 26-29, and it wasn't pretty for the home team.
Oakland won the first three by a combined score of 28-13 and had a three-run lead going into the bottom of the ninth, only to have the Tigers rally to pull one out. American League Division Series Game 1 starter Max Scherzer, who started the finale and gave up six runs (five earned) in five innings, shrugged off the notion that what happened then will have any carryover in the ALDS.
"They came into Comerica and whipped us. That shows you what a good team they are," Scherzer said. "They have a lot of different ways to beat you. They have good hitting, good pitching and they're a good ballclub. We know it's going to be a challenge for us offensively if we're going to go ahead and beat them this series."
The Tigers won two of three played in Oakland in April.
Tigers shrug off earlier sign-stealing allegations
OAKLAND -- If the Tigers had any suspicions that A's hitters were picking up something from their pitchers during their four-game series in August, whether signs or pitch-tipping, they aren't talking about it.
Two days after manager Jim Leyland backed away from quotes at the end of August saying he was suspicious the A's were getting something, players showed no signs that they were being tapped.
"The thing is, every pitcher has different sets of signs and stuff like that," catcher Alex Avila said. "And most of the time, you're changing the signs every inning, so that's not something we're too concerned about.
"Obviously you look at it, because there are times teams will pick up signs, steal signs, stuff like that. We do the same thing. Every team does it. You have to make sure you have your bases covered and make sure you're prepared for that situation, but looking at that series, there wasn't anything glaring, or something that was like, 'Oh, that's why.' No, we didn't play as well that series."
Max Scherzer, chased after five innings with five earned runs on eight hits in the finale of that series, laughed when he was asked if A's hitters had a sense of what was coming.
"It sure felt like it," Scherzer said. "It's just one of those things. That's baseball. They're a quality team and they were hot, and they beat us."
Tuiasosopo accepts decision to leave him off roster
OAKLAND -- If someone had told Matt Tuiasosopo going into Spring Training, when he was sitting at a locker in a distant corner of the clubhouse at Joker Marchant Stadium, that he would spend the entire season in the big leagues with the Tigers, he would've been overjoyed. So there's that.
Still, if someone had told him that he would spend all year on a division winner and not make the postseason roster, the disappointment would've been natural.
That's what Tuiasosopo faces. He's still with the team in Oakland, working out and taking swings. But unless the Tigers sustain an injury, he won't be a part of this American League Division Series.
Tuiasosopo wasn't shocked.
"Obviously, I knew with Jhonny [Peralta] coming back, there was going to be someone that had to go," Tuiasosopo said Thursday. "They made a decision. I'm thankful to be here. I'm still here and able to work out with the guys and be ready if anything does happen."
He also knew Peralta's return wasn't the only factor. Tuiasosopo finished his regular season in an 0-for-22, 15-strikeout slump that lasted exactly a month, from August 29 to season's end. He struck out in his final five at-bats to end the regular season.
Tuiasosopo now admits the slump got to him.
"It was tough, frustrating," Tuiasosopo said. "I wish I would've played a lot better. I obviously know I could've done a lot better. I was trying to do too much. I remember coming back in the second half [thinking], 'Let's do more. Let's not have a dropoff. Let's go do more.' And then obviously as I went south, the next day I would try to recover what I lost. And then I had another bad day, and I'd think I need five hits today to recover. And it just started a downward spiral."
Leyland, Tigers prepare for noise level in Oakland
OAKLAND -- Decibel level has never been a problem at O.co Coliseum. The Tigers remember well how loud it was when they met the A's in the 2012 American League Division Series.
"This is one of the rowdiest baseball experiences I've ever been a part of. The fans here go absolutely nuts from the first pitch to the last, and that's just something you got to deal with," said Max Scherzer, Detroit's Game 1 starter.
For this series, the Athletics will open up an additional 12,000 seats, which will only make the atmosphere that much more electric.
"I guess that means it's just a little bit louder," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "This is obviously a very loud, energetic stadium. And the only thing you do when you come to a place like this is you try to live on that energy that the opposing teams fan's provide, thrive on it, live on it. Enjoy it.
"I love it at Detroit. We see the white towels, or whatever they are. I like it when the Oakland A's are waving the yellow towels and the fans are screaming. The acoustics are a little tough, they're a little loud. I like bars with music, but this is a little bit loud. So it does get in the ear drums. Thank God I don't hear that well. But it's a great atmosphere, it really is and there is no question about it. They're into it. They should be. They're proud of their team, they're here for the playoffs. I enjoy this experience, and that's what you ask your players to do, thrive on it."
Added third baseman Miguel Cabrera: "It's tough to play; people are very loud. Even if they lose, they're loud, too, doesn't matter. Nine innings in the game, that's very impressive. I don't know how you are going to prepare, but I think we're going to be ready for that. We know it's going to be loud, but we've got to focus and play our game."
Contract talks yet to begin with Scherzer
OAKLAND -- Scott Boras, agent for Tigers Game 1 starter Max Scherzer, said Wednesday no talks have started yet on a potential contract extension. He expects that to be approached in the offseason as the Tigers figure out how to handle their trio of starters nearing free agency.
Scherzer could become a free agent as soon as the end of next season. If he does, he could end up as one of the biggest prizes on the market, especially if he follows up this year's success. Rick Porcello and Doug Fister are both eligible for free agency in two years, which is often the time when teams make decisions with starters about long-term contracts.
Avila lets hair grow for 2013 postseason
OAKLAND -- What had been a playoff beard at times last October is now playoff hair for catcher Alex Avila.
Avila spent most of the season's second half letting it grow, almost to the point of puffing out. The way he has hit since coming back from a concussion in August, he has no plans on cutting it.
By contrast, he walked into the clubhouse in Oakland clean-shaven.
"The beard is getting some gray," Avila admitted. "I'm only 26."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.