8/16/2014 12:05 A.M. ET
Martinez adjusts stance to get rolling in second half
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
DETROIT -- J.D. Martinez was batting just .181 (13-for-72) since the All-Star break until this week. He entered Friday's series opener against Seattle with a 5-for-14 stretch over his last four games, including a go-ahead solo homer Thursday for just his third home run of the season's second half.
Whether it gets Martinez going on a hitting tear again remains to be seen, but it at least seems to be the sign of being more comfortable at the plate.
That, he believes, comes from his footwork and a bad habit he seemingly developed.
"Me and [assistant hitting coach] Darnell Coles, we were working really hard on not crossing my front foot," Martinez said. "It seemed like I've been crossing it a lot more and just hitting a lot of ground balls to the left side of the field, which when I'm going good I'm not doing."
By getting his front foot going across his body, his swing was much less direct.
"It's hard to say north-to-south when you're taking an east-to-west movement," he said. I felt like my swing [Thursday] was more towards the pitcher and not towards third base or shortstop."
Apology issued for Miggy bobblehead error
DETROIT -- A Miguel Cabrera bobblehead giveaway Friday honoring his back-to-back Most Valuable Player awards took on an unintended collectible status when the bobblehead depicted Cabrera holding two National League MVP awards.
Cabrera has won the last two American League MVP honors.
The Tigers released a statement from the manufacturer, Forever Collectibles:
"Forever Collectibles takes full responsibility for this error and we apologize to the fans. We are certainly disappointed this happened."
The bobbleheads were a giveaway item for the first 10,000 fans through the gates at Friday's 7-2 Tigers loss to the Mariners.
Tigers serious players in hunt for Rusney
DETROIT -- Highly-prized Cuban center fielder Rusney Castillo is expected to sort through offers from interested teams this weekend and narrow the field to a group of finalists next week. He's expected to have an offer from the Tigers -- and likely a serious one -- to consider.
The Tigers have had meetings this week with some of the handful of talent evaluators who saw Castillo work out in Miami, including international scouting director Tom Moore and recently hired South Florida scout Nick Avila.
Approximately 28 teams scouted Castillo during his workout last month, and a smaller group of clubs followed up with individual workouts. The Tigers had a handful of evaluators there, then scouted him more closely in an individual workout last Sunday in Miami.
The Red Sox and Yankees are among the leading contenders for Castillo's services. However, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported, the Tigers are also seen as "major players" for Castillo by others in the industry.
Whoever signs Castillo will get a speedy, athletic outfielder with surprising power -- who has drawn comparisons with Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury in terms of style of play -- and is seen as close to big league ready. Whether the 27-year-old would provide that type of impact this season has been debated. While he's an older, more seasoned talent, he also hasn't played competitive baseball in more than a year.
Whether or not Castillo could contribute down the stretch, he fits a need for the Tigers, who have a long-term void in center field since trading Austin Jackson to Seattle. Top center field prospect Derek Hill, Detroit's first-round Draft pick this season, is at least a few years away. Detroit's better prospects in the middle and upper levels are generally seen as corner outfielders.
Moreover, while bidding on Castillo could skyrocket, it beats the free-agent market this winter, where Colby Rasmus projects to be the top center fielder available.
Verlander's status won't be clear until next week
DETROIT -- Justin Verlander got the reinforcement he wanted from other doctors that his shoulder soreness appears limited to inflammation. Whether he can avoid a stint on the disabled list is the next question, and that might not be clear until the middle of next week.
"Right now, he's not going to pick up a ball until at least Tuesday," manager Brad Ausmus said. "From there, it could go in a number of directions."
The Tigers will go with four starters for the time being, using Monday's off-day as a way to skip Verlander's spot. Max Scherzer will start Tuesday's series opener at Tampa Bay on four days' rest rather than getting an extra day, followed by Rick Porcello and David Price.
The Tigers don't need a fifth starter until next Saturday's day-night doubleheader at Minnesota. They can use the 26th player rule to call up a starter from the minors for one of those games. If Verlander can't go, they'll either have to call somebody else up or start Scherzer and Porcello on short rest the next couple of days.
At that point, it would be far more likely the Tigers would put Verlander on the 15-day DL, since they could backdate it and call up another pitcher from the system.
Dirks set to restart rehab assignment at Triple-A
DETROIT -- The on-again, off-again rehab assignment for Tigers outfielder Andy Dirks is about to be back on. Tigers manager Brad Ausmus announced that Dirks will restart his rehab assignment on Saturday at Triple-A Toledo.
It'll be the third time in about six weeks Dirks has started a rehab stint. His most recent stint lasted five days before he tweaked a hamstring playing the outfield 10 days ago. He was pulled off his rehab assignment a week ago.
Since more than five days passed since Dirks was pulled off rehab, his countdown restarts, meaning he gets up to 20 days to play in minor league games before the Tigers have to make a decision. With just 2 1/2 weeks left in the Triple-A season, that all but ensures the Tigers don't have to bring him up before rosters expand Sept. 1. Since Dirks spent all season on the disabled list, he's eligible for the postseason roster regardless.
"If he plays tomorrow and plays through, I think that would be enough [time to be ready]," Ausmus said.
At this point, staying healthy enough to play through is the tricky part. If he can do it, he'll give the Tigers a left-handed hitting option in an outfield full of right-handed batters.
A-Jax faces Tigers for first time as a Mariner
DETROIT -- For the first time, Austin Jackson veered right toward the visitors' clubhouse, instead of left toward the Tigers' headquarters, when he reached the bowels of Comerica Park on Friday.
Jackson, flipped from the Tigers to the Mariners at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, spoke about the deal and life in Seattle before the opener of this weekend's three-game series against his former team.
The 27-year-old center fielder learned of his fate in bizarre fashion. Of the 41,306 who attended the July 31 Tigers game, Jackson was probably among the last to figure out what was happening as Rajai Davis trotted out to center field to replace him in the middle of an at-bat.
Chances are, a good portion of the Comerica Park crowd had already learned of the deal, which brought Saturday's starter David Price to Detroit, as the news spread via social media. Minutes later, Jackson found out, too.
"That was awesome that I was able to get that last standing ovation while I was running off," Jackson said.
The strange Deadline scene aside, Jackson said his move to Seattle has been "an easy transition, honestly." He joked that the toughest part of the swap has been adjusting to the three-hour time difference, which he said took a few days.
"The team welcomed me with open arms," said Jackson, who was in the middle of his fifth season as a Tiger. "They were pumped up to have me. That put me at ease a lot."
Easing the transition for Jackson was his new skipper, Lloyd McClendon, who served as Detroit's hitting coach for seven seasons, tutoring Jackson for four of them.
"I really got comfortable and built a connection with him [in Detroit]," Jackson said.
While the series between Detroit and Seattle began with Jackson in the batter's box as the Mariners' leadoff man, the most surreal moment of the weekend might not come until Saturday. If he's again at the top of the Seattle order, he'll be stared down by Price, whose availability at the Deadline ultimately brought Jackson's tenure as a Tiger to an end.
"When you get a player of Price's caliber," McClendon said, "you're going to give up something in return."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. Matt Slovin contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.