8/24/2014 9:12 P.M. ET
Hunter lends support to Chicago's LLWS team
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- Torii Hunter has been a little busy this weekend, but he has tried to follow Chicago's run through the Little League World Series. He has already lent his support.
As the Jackie Robinson West Little League team readied for Sunday's championship game against South Korea, it had family and friends cheering the players on from the stands in Williamsport, Pa. Hunter was part of a group of Major League players who donated money to help send families to the series and provide food and lodging.
"Those kids are excited because their families are there," Hunter said. "Think if their families couldn't afford to get there. They'd have no support. Nobody screaming for them, nobody yelling for them."
Hunter can't be there, and with four games in 48 hours, he had his own series to worry about. Still, he has tried to follow as closely as he can.
"I watch the highlights, see what they're doing. I'm excited, man," he said. "It's cool because, that's kind of what I want. I want to get some of these African-American kids back in the game, involved in the game. The game is great."
No matter what happens in the final, Hunter said, he hopes their success is an example for kids to get into baseball.
"I'm just glad they did it, and hopefully little kids are watching and thinking I want to do that one day, and we get more African-American kids playing the game," he said.
Cabrera rests sore ankle heading into off-day
MINNEAPOLIS -- As a summer of mystery about Miguel Cabrera's recovery from core muscle surgery winds down, the Tigers slugger has a more immediate injury concern. His right ankle, which has seemingly hobbled him for a while, is bothersome enough that it kept him out of the lineup for Sunday's series finale against the Twins.
Cabrera has played through the ankle issue like he has played through every other injury concern. However, manager Brad Ausmus said, Cabrera aggravated it when he hit the first-base bag hard trying to beat out a double-play throw in the fifth inning Saturday night. He hit another double-play grounder in the seventh inning but barely got halfway down the line, clearly limited in his mobility.
"I think when he hit that base and reaggravated it, I think it made it flare up," Ausmus said. "When he does certain things and makes it flare up, I think it makes it more unbearable, but at other times it's bearable."
Cabrera left for a pinch-runner after hitting an eighth-inning single. Afterwards, Ausmus openly pondered the value of a day off, giving Cabrera two days to recuperate before Detroit's next game against the Yankees on Tuesday night at Comerica Park.
"I could tell when I was talking with him that he kind of wanted to play," Ausmus said. "I just thought it was best that we try and give him these back-to-back days and bring some of the inflammation down, and hopefully he's better on Tuesday."
Cabrera has made a point not to talk about injuries after he was quoted in a USA Today article last month saying he was dealing with lingering core muscle tightness from last winter's surgery.
"You guys know me for seven years. I don't like to talk about my injuries or whatever I've got in my body right now," he said a week ago. "The only thing I can say is I'm going to be out there every day and try to play hard. It doesn't matter what I have. I try to play my best. Hopefully I can do my job and hopefully I can help my team to win more games and hopefully we can win the division."
Asked if Cabrera's ankle could be hampering his power, Ausmus said, "Can't answer that. I guess it's possible. To what extent it bothers him, it could be if he can't keep his weight back."
The Tigers scored 13 runs without him on Sunday.
V-Mart matches career high with 25th homer
MINNEAPOLIS -- Victor Martinez doesn't focus his efforts on hitting the ball over the fence. In fact, his go-ahead RBI single, not his two-run insurance home run, might not have been his hardest hit of a four-RBI afternoon Sunday against the Twins.
An inning before Martinez launched a drive to left off Twins left-hander Brian Duensing, Martinez drilled a line drive to the same general area. The ball was low enough that it hit off the left-field wall, but hit hard enough that center fielder Danny Santana quickly got to the bounce after Jordan Schafer crashed into the wall and missed it.
Torii Hunter, who was on first base when the ball was hit, held up around second. Santana's throw came in quickly enough to shortstop that Hunter stopped, leaving Martinez scrambling around first base to retreat.
It was Martinez's second RBI single of the game. He has plenty of those. His home run, however, was his 25th, matching his career high from his 2007 season in Cleveland.
He has five weeks to add to the total.
"That means nothing," Martinez said. "I just keep trying to put in good at-bats and just put a good swing. I always say if you put a good swing, anything can happen. I was just happy to help the team and the ball didn't get caught."
The ratios show just how much of a different pace Martinez has had on home runs to reach this point. He averaged a home run every 22.5 at-bats in 2007, but entered Sunday averaging 18.3 at-bats per home run this season. Just under 10 percent of his fly balls were home runs in 2007; better than 11 percent of his fly balls have cleared the fence in 2014.
Martinez went 3-for-6 with four RBIs, one shy of his season high in RBIs set Wednesday at Tampa Bay. He's 10-for-23 over his last seven games with two home runs and 10 RBIs.
Anibal could return for Saturday doubleheader
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Tigers have a much-needed off-day on Monday in between weeklong stretches with doubleheaders, but Anibal Sanchez will spend the day at the office, throwing off flat ground at Comerica Park. How he feels in that session could determine whether he can rejoin the Tigers for their next day-night doubleheader Saturday against the White Sox in Chicago.
It's a strong enough possibility that manager Brad Ausmus isn't ruling it out.
Sanchez has been out two weeks with a right pectoral muscle strain. The initial hope from team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski was that Sanchez would miss three or four weeks. Next Saturday would fall on the low end.
So far, Sanchez has felt surprisingly good, even letting loose some higher-intensity throws near the end of his sessions. If Sanchez feels fine throwing Monday, he'll throw off a mound on Wednesday.
If Sanchez starts Saturday, it would be without the benefit of a rehab outing to stretch out his arm. However, his return would allow the Tigers to use the 26th man roster spot for the doubleheader to call up an extra reliever. Just four or five innings from Sanchez, then, would have them sufficiently covered. The Tigers' current plan has Max Scherzer starting the other doubleheader game.
If Sanchez can't go Saturday, the Tigers have a decision to make among some options they'd probably rather not use. Both Robbie Ray and Buck Farmer were hit hard this weekend by Twins batters and optioned to Triple-A Toledo afterward, but one would most likely have to return to fill Sanchez's spot. Kyle Lobstein, who delivered 5 2/3 solid innings of relief Saturday, would be an option, but he appears likely to start Thursday against the Yankees at Comerica Park.
• Ausmus said he read about the replay issue in Saturday's Rays-Blue Jays game, in which a call was challenged after a pitcher had stepped on the rubber to begin the next play. It was the same issue he argued in a game against the Angels last month, though he was told he couldn't protest the game. "I wasn't given anything official in terms of whether I was right or wrong," he said. "I know there was a lot of discussion in New York about it, though."
• Joakim Soria threw for a second consecutive day Sunday as he continues his way back from a left oblique strain that landed him on the DL two weeks ago. "The last three days, he has trended upward quite a bit," Ausmus said.
• Justin Verlander will get an extra day of rest before he makes his next start. After some discussion about moving him up to face the Yankees on Thursday at Comerica Park, he'll instead face the White Sox on Friday night in Chicago.