Notes: Back spasms keep Pudge out
Veteran catcher misses back-to-back games for first time in '06
CHICAGO -- Jim Leyland isn't trying to be a pain in Ivan Rodriguez's back. He has enough of that already.
While Rodriguez said he felt better on Wednesday after back spasms forced him out of Tuesday's game against the White Sox, he admitted his back was still tight. With that news, Leyland said he wasn't taking any chances on Wednesday.
"He's probably mad," Leyland said of Rodriguez, "but I'm not going to play him. I'm not going to take a chance. That's one thing I love about him. He wants to be in there."
Pudge wanted to play badly enough that he was getting treatment from Tigers athletic trainers soon after he arrived at the ballpark around 1:30 p.m. CT. It helped, and he said he felt better, but it still wasn't back to normal.
"I've got some knots right here in my lower back, and it's causing me some tightness in my left hip," Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez has started 50 of Detroit's 59 games this season. He has not missed back-to-back games all year, and it's expected he won't do it this time, either. Leyland said he "might" play Rodriguez on Thursday, but only if he feels fine.
Of course, the way Rodriguez wants to play, he believes he felt good enough to play on Wednesday.
"I was ready to play," he said, "but [Leyland] didn't want to take any chances."
On the run: Before this past Sunday's series finale against the Red Sox, Leyland talked about wanting to push the tempo and have his players on the move, taking extra bases and going on hit-and-run plays. But it wasn't just a one-game trend. It's part of a long-term wish list for this organization.
In that aspect, Leyland said on Wednesday, the Tigers have work to do, especially after Tuesday's loss.
"If you want to win, you'd better be able to do more than hit solo home runs," he said. "I'm talking about winning. When you're talking about having some numbers that look decent for your agent, that's one thing. When you're talking about winning games, that's another thing. I don't want to certainly downplay the home run. We had three of them last night. We should've won the game. We walked a couple guys, and we lost the game. It wasn't the hitters' fault we lost the game. But the fact of the matter is our offense is not hitting well in my opinion.
"I think it can be deceiving sometimes. We hit home runs, and we beat up on somebody. It's when you get the hits, if they're two-out, tough hits, stuff like that."
It's hard for them to manufacture offense, Leyland said, because they don't have the speed for it.
"I wouldn't call them slow," he said. "We don't have a lot of guys who can go from first to third. They're running. We just don't run very well."
That, Leyland added, can be compensated for with smart, aggressive baserunning, and that's what he wants to instill.
Some of that can be coached, but some of it can't.
"We need to make some adjustments from within with what we've got," Leyland said, "and we probably need to add some things."
It was the strongest hint yet that the Tigers could be in the market for offensive help. What Leyland is talking about, though, goes beyond a short-term trade. He also seemed to mean development to build a team that can have success every year.
"What we've got to do if we're going to maintain this with what we have right now," he said, "is we have to get more big hits in big situations, we have to move runners, and if we get the bases loaded, we've got to get more than one run once in a while. I'm not being critical. Right now this is the team we have, and I'm very, very happy with it. But we have to start doing some things a little better if we want to maintain our winning ways."
Maybin back Thursday: Class A West Michigan center fielder Cameron Maybin, the Tigers' first-round pick in last year's First-Year Player Draft, is expected to return to action as soon as Thursday after missing about a month with a stretched ligament in his right index finger. He hasn't played since May 7.
Logan activated: The Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens activated their center fielder, Nook Logan, from the disabled list on Wednesday. He hasn't played since the Hens' season opener, when he broke a finger sliding back into first base on a pickoff.
Sanchez to Toledo: The Mud Hens will make another roster move on Thursday for pitching help, but Humberto Sanchez's stay is expected to be a short one. He'll make his Triple-A debut by starting Thursday afternoon's game at Buffalo, but will then return to Double-A Erie.
Sanchez owns a 5-3 record with a 1.76 ERA for the SeaWolves, having scattered 47 hits over 71 2/3 innings and striking out 86 batters.
Coming up: The Tigers and White Sox finish this series with an 8:05 p.m. ET start on the South Side. Kenny Rogers (7-3, 3.54) will start for Detroit opposite Jon Garland (4-2, 6.04).
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.