7/30/2014 11:45 P.M. ET
Verlander hosts Agar family at Comerica Park
By Matt Slovin and Jason Beck / MLB.com
DETROIT -- Justin Verlander was inspired so much by Johnny Agar's story that he wanted the Tigers Winter Caravan to swing through Grand Rapids, Mich., to meet him last offseason. Six months after the Tigers visited Agar near his hometown, the Agars visited Verlander's office Wednesday as his guests for a Tigers game.
It wasn't their first trip to see the Tigers, but it was their first game in Verlander's suite.
Agar is a 19-year-old who has fought cerebral palsy, but trained and pushed himself to step out of his wheelchair and complete the final mile of a 5K race last summer in their hometown of Rockford, Mich. His father, former Tigers Minor League pitcher Jeff Agar, pushed him in his wheelchair for the first part of the race before proudly watching him complete the journey.
They just completed the same race this summer, and they've made a full marathon their next goal, with Johnny completing the final mile. The Tigers, however, are Johnny's summer passion.
The entire family came down for batting practice, where Verlander posed for pictures and had a gift for Johnny.
"It was great," Verlander said of the visit. "He inspired me with the courage he's shown and what he's been doing. I just wanted the chance to meet him. I saw on [television] he was wearing my shirt, and I thought that was really neat. I just wanted to meet him and say hi and get to know him."
Verlander didn't make the caravan visit in January while recovering from core muscle surgery. Joba Chamberlain met Johnny and the family at the caravan stop.
"Man, they'll let anybody in here," he joked with Johnny.
They chatted nearly an hour before Chamberlain had to get ready for the game. For Johnny, who would like to cover baseball one day, it was a huge thrill.
Castellanos delivers big hit in return to action
DETROIT -- Nick Castellanos didn't look injured Wednesday night, when he knocked in a career-high four runs in the Tigers' 7-2 win over the White Sox. But he sure felt it.
His finger contusion forced him to change his swing, which he said might have helped him more than it hurt him -- just one of those "little blessings," according to the rookie third baseman.
"Earlier, I've been using a lot of top hand," Castellanos explained. "Kind of rolling over pitches I should stay through. Now, with my finger hurt on my top hand, I have to use a lot more bottom hand. It really helped me out tonight.
"I didn't try to do too much."
Castellanos went 2-for-4 with a three-run homer that capped a six-run first inning.
He readily admitted he wasn't feeling as strong as he normally was, but that was hardly evident. In fact, his night was so successful that a reporter asked him whether he might be taking a few more batting-practice grounders off his finger -- the cause of the contusion.
"You know, if I'm struggling, I might have to do that," Castellanos joked.
Suarez sits with back tightness
DETROIT -- One-half of the left side of the Tigers' infield was back in commission Wednesday night.
Nick Castellanos, who sustained a contusion on his right index finger during batting practice Tuesday, was in the lineup for the second game of the series against the White Sox.
But Eugenio Suarez, who was forced out of Tuesday night's game by lower back tightness, was out of the lineup Wednesday.
"I feel better," the rookie shortstop said. "But my lower back is hurt. Not too much like yesterday, but right now I feel like a little pinch. When I bend down to take ground balls, it hurts."
Suarez said that he only feels the tightness while fielding grounders, and he hopes to return to the lineup Thursday.
Manager Brad Ausmus said he isn't "overly alarmed" by Suarez's back tightness. Andrew Romine filled in at shortstop Wednesday night.
Soria handling rough outings with professionalism
DETROIT -- Through two appearances by Joakim Soria with the Tigers, manager Brad Ausmus can't be happy with his new reliever's performance.
But, he has no concerns about Soria's ability to do exactly what he was brought over from Texas to do -- provide a boost to a bullpen that desperately needs one.
"No," Ausmus said, when asked if he's worried about the newest member of the Tigers. "Not at all."
Soria's self-proclaimed worst outing of his career came Tuesday night, when he allowed four runs on six hits, including back-to-back homers. While Ausmus hopes his performance wasn't telling of how his tenure in Detroit will go, he certainly hopes his off-field demeanor is indicative of his new player.
Soria waited at his locker following the game to answer questions from media members.
"It shows he's very professional," Ausmus said. "He's played for a while. Seems like a stand-up, team-oriented guy."
Matt Slovin is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.