8/21/2014 6:15 P.M. ET
Verlander on track to start twin-bill nightcap
By David Adler / MLB.com
ST. PETERSBURG -- As Brad Ausmus was giving his pregame interview on Thursday morning at Tropicana Field, Tigers starter Justin Verlander strode into his office, high-fived his manager and walked out without a word.
Translation: Verlander's bullpen session went well.
"I would think that the high-five symbolizes 'I'm starting on Saturday,'" Verlander said. "I haven't discussed that with him, though, but I think we all knew if everything went according to plan, I'd be starting Saturday. I don't see any reason why I wouldn't be."
Verlander threw about 35 pitches off the bullpen mound before Detroit's series finale with no apparent setbacks. He felt good enough afterward to confirm his expectation of starting one half of the Tigers' doubleheader against the Twins on Saturday.
"It was pretty much everything I wanted today," Verlander said. "No issues. Everything felt good."
Verlander missed his last start with right shoulder inflammation, but he has been able to get his arm loose over the past few days to the point where he feels he will make his next turn in the rotation and stay off the disabled list.
On Thursday morning, he had not spoken to Ausmus about the specifics of pitching on Saturday, including which game of the twin bill he would start. The high-five was their only communication to that point.
After Thursday's 1-0 loss, Ausmus said that Verlander would pitch the night game of the doubleheader, but he held off on officially confirming the right-hander as a starter for Saturday so the club can make sure Verlander's shoulder is healthy enough to pitch.
Ausmus did say before the game that, assuming Verlander pitches, the right-hander would not be on a strict pitch count. Verlander was on board with that idea.
"If we have a seven- or eight-run lead, it might be a time to not push it," Verlander said. "But if I feel good and it's a tight game, then it's not like I was on the DL and need to work my way back, and do a pitch count. I mean, I missed one start. It's not that big of a deal."
Miggy serves as DH after tweaking right ankle
ST. PETERSBURG -- Miguel Cabrera, who played first base for the first two games of the Tigers' series against the Rays at Tropicana Field, served as the designated hitter for Thursday's finale.
Manager Brad Ausmus said Cabrera tweaked his right ankle running the bases in Wednesday night's 6-0 win, and it's a minor recurrence of a nagging issue. Ausmus said Cabrera's ankle was only of "small concern" and he was "not particularly" worried.
"He re-aggravated an old ankle injury," Ausmus said. "It goes back a little ways. It's not the first time it's happened. It flares up from time to time, and a lot of times when he slides, it re-aggravates it for whatever reason."
In the first inning on Wednesday, Cabrera chugged around the bases to score from first on Victor Martinez's double into the right-field corner, and after sliding into home, Cabrera appeared to come up with a slight limp.
Don Kelly eventually came in as a defensive replacement for Cabrera in the ninth inning.
"There are days when he feels better than others, so on those days when he doesn't feel as great, we're gonna try to maybe DH him. It's possible to give him a day or get him out of a game early like we did yesterday," Ausmus said.
To get Cabrera off his feet, Martinez started at first base on Thursday. Martinez had been Detroit's DH on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Smyly says facing Price would have been fun
ST. PETERSBURG -- Going strictly by when he last pitched five days ago, former Tigers lefty Drew Smyly, who was dealt to the Rays for David Price at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, would have been in line to start Thursday's series finale against his old team.
That would have made for quite the interesting matchup, as Price made his first start against Tampa Bay on Thursday.
Instead, because Tampa Bay had an off-day on Monday, Alex Cobb faced Price -- a marquee matchup in its own right -- while Smyly had the series off.
"It would've been cool [to pitch against Detroit]," Smyly said. "It would've been fun. But it is what it is."
Price, on the other hand, said before Tuesday's series opener that he would have rather had his slot in the rotation miss Tampa Bay.
The difference is understandable, as Price had spent his entire career with the Rays since he was first called up in 2008. The Tampa Bay clubhouse is full of close friends that will make for an awkward matchup.
Smyly is only 25, and he's only been in the league a few years. So he said this series isn't nearly as strange for him as it must be for Price.
"Maybe it'd be a little different if I was pitching," Smyly said. "It was good to say 'Hey' to those guys. You don't really see them much when you're not playing baseball, but it was good to say 'Hey.'"
David Adler is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.