Notes: Bonderman deals with blister
Right-hander still expects to make his next start on Sunday
DETROIT -- Manager Jim Leyland says it's a blister. Jeremy Bonderman says it's not. Whatever it is, it's becoming a recurring issue.
Though Bonderman still expects to make his next scheduled start Sunday night against the Twins, the open blister -- or open skin, or whatever term is used -- could become an issue. The fact that it opened up again Tuesday night against the Mariners was an unexpected development, especially since it didn't occur until his sixth and final inning of work.
"It's sore today," Leyland said. "We thought we got through last night. He was going to be done anyway. In fact, I didn't even know it popped until afterwards. I already told him he was done."
Asked if he might have to make a decision in the coming days on whether to start him, Leyland said, "it could be a possibility."
Bonderman said he'll avoid throwing a bullpen session again between starts, something he did last week once the team medical staff popped his blister and began treating the finger. He said the skin that popped wasn't another blister, but new skin that had formed over the area where the blister was.
He'll treat it like a blister and bring out whatever means necessary. Options range from pickle juice, which was Nolan Ryan's treatment of choice, to Stan's Rodeo Cream, which Josh Beckett has used to treat blisters in the past.
Already, it has affected his delivery, but he believes in a good way. Since he felt the blister strongest on his sinker, he changed his grip so that his index finger wasn't rubbing on the seams. He'd been playing around with that grip anyway, but the results Tuesday impressed him.
"I thought it was better," Bonderman said. "I was kind of to the point where I knew I wasn't going to be able to throw that [old grip]."
Omar impresses: The Tigers' eighth straight win Tuesday took a career night from their super-sub player. But to many players, Omar Infante's ability to hit off the bench isn't that particularly shocking.
They see him before the game taking balls around the infield and outfield. They see him approach batting practice with a game plan to hit the ball around the field. They can hear the sound of the bat from the cages when he takes swings during the game some nights with fellow utility infielder Neifi Perez.
"He works hard every day," shortstop Carlos Guillen said. "He listens. He prepares himself for the day when he has a chance to play."
Infante says he does the extra cage work so that he can see as many pitches as he can. That way, when he gets his start, he doesn't feel rusty.
"He's a good hitter," third baseman Brandon Inge said. "The way he can slow things down sometimes amazes me. He just comes in. For a guy coming off the bench, you have a little sense that you haven't played in a while, so you want to make the most of it. It's hard to back down that adrenaline. He just goes out there and seems like he's been starting the whole year."
Infante's three hits in three at-bats Tuesday night all went to different parts of the field -- a ground-rule double to left-center in the second inning, a triple to the right-field corner in the fourth, then a single up the middle in the sixth. It follows his trend for most of the season, spraying the ball rather than trying to pull everything like in years past. That's where his batting practice approach comes in.
"I feel a little better," Infante said. "I'm hitting a lot the other way. When I see a right-handed pitcher, I can try to inside-out a fastball."
With three-quarters of the cycle in three at-bats and a career-high four RBIs, Infante considered Tuesday his best game as a Major Leaguer, better than the days he had as an everyday starter two or three years ago. He'd like to get back to that type of job, but he realizes good games off the bench is his best ticket to more playing time.
"I feel comfortable," he said. "That's my role right now. They let me get my opportunities against left-handed pitchers. I keep working at every position. In the future, you never know, maybe I'll play every day or maybe another team sees the same thing. I'll keep working at every position. I think that gives me more of an opportunity to be in the lineup."
If the timetable fits: Not many Major Leaguers can relate to what Joel Zumaya faces with surgery to repair a ruptured tendon in his right middle finger. Adam Eaton can, because he's been through it twice.
The first time he did it, ironically, came against the Tigers in 2005. That was diagnosed as a strain. He had the same injury the next spring in his final outing before Opening Day and opted for surgery, forcing him out of action until August.
"I've done the three-month thing twice," Eaton told MLB.com reporter Ken Mandel on Wednesday. "The first time I tried to throw through it, but it got better once I stopped throwing. He'll be fine if he sticks to the schedule and doesn't rush it."
De La Cruz dazzles: Eulogio De La Cruz turned in his third start solid start for Double-A Erie Wednesday morning, scattering a run on two hits over seven innings in a 5-1 win at Altoona. The right-hander faced two batters over the minimum while striking out eight against two walks.
Coming up: The Tigers finish up their brief homestand Thursday afternoon with a 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Mariners at Comerica Park. Former Tiger Jeff Weaver (0-5, 15.35), whom Detroit last saw pitch the deciding Game 5 of the World Series last October, will try to shake his follow-up struggles when he takes the mound for Seattle. Justin Verlander (2-1, 2.75) will start for Detroit.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.