SEATTLE -- Tigers outfielder Ryan Raburn hit his way into the history books during Monday's game with the Mariners, an 8-3 Seattle loss. He became the first player ever to hit a ball off Safeco Field's retractable roof.
The first-inning popup went straight up and kept going as it wandered over foul territory near the third-base dugout. The ball seemed headed toward the seats until it hit the roof, which redirected it back into the field of play. It fell between catcher Miguel Olivo and third baseman Chone Figgins, neither of whom could make the adjustment in time to have a play.
According to Mariners media relations, the roof height is officially listed at 217 feet at its highest point, in the middle. However, the trusses that support the roof sit lower, as much as 50 feet in some places. Raburn's ball hit one of the trusses on the side. The estimation from the club is that the ball made contact with the roof about 175 feet up.
"That just means you have power," manager Jim Leyland said. "Anybody who hits it up there, you've got power. When you see guys hitting the ball way, way up in the air like that, they've got power. They just missed one."
By any standards, it's a long way up. The roof literally sits over the lights that surround the ballpark, with enough clearance to slide over when the roof needs to be opened or closed. The roof was closed just before game time on a chilly night.
Even so, the Mariners had prepared for such a possibility. The official ground rules state that a ball that hits off the roof is an out, if caught.
V-Mart leaves game after aggravating groin
SEATTLE -- Manager Jim Leyland tried to bring Victor Martinez back into the Tigers' lineup without putting him at risk of aggravating the groin muscle he tweaked on Saturday by putting him at designated hitter for Monday's 8-3 win over the Mariners.
However, his return lasted all of one at-bat and a trip halfway around the bases before the injury forced him out of the game.
The Tigers might have a decision to make, depending on how long he's out.
"I'm sure we're going to have to do something," Leyland said.
What that entails might not be clear until Tuesday, once the Tigers' medical staff has a better idea of the extent of the groin strain. Martinez, for his part, hopes he can keep it a short-term injury.
"If I just need a few days, I'll be happy," he said. "But it's pretty sore. Right now, we'll just take it day by day."
Martinez said he felt the injury happen on a pitch he took in the second inning against Mariners starter Jason Vargas. He lined the eighth pitch he saw into right field for a single and lumbered into first base. After Brennan Boesch's ensuing single moved him to second, the discomfort apparently was too much for him to move comfortably. He limped off the field, replaced by pinch-runner Casper Wells, as head athletic trainer Kevin Rand accompanied him into the Tigers' clubhouse.
Martinez originally suffered the injury Saturday night at Oakland. He was held out of Sunday's game but written into Monday's lineup. The hope was that he could avoid stretching the muscle if he didn't catch, a plan to which Leyland was going to stick for at least this three-game series.
"I've been through this all my life. We never learn our lesson," Leyland said. "There's nowhere to blame anybody. You just figure that kind of stuff happens. I've been through it too many times. It felt great today, didn't have any problems sleeping, didn't have any probmes during the night. Worked out before the game, felt OK. Side-to-side stuff loosened it up and everything.
"But there's nothing like game speed. We've been burned like that for 50 years."
The Tigers signed the veteran Martinez as a free agent in November to serve in the middle of the order as a much-needed run producer who could make pitchers pay for walking cleanup hitter and American League Most Valuable Player runner-up Miguel Cabrera. Martinez got off to a slow start but showed signs of coming out of his slump in recent days, raising his average to .237 with two home runs and nine RBIs.
Alex Avila was already going to catch for the entire series, so that plan won't change. Martinez's absence, however, leaves utilityman Don Kelly as the backup catcher, for now, unless the Tigers make a roster move. Kelly is officially listed as the third catcher, though he hasn't caught in a game yet.
Tests show no nerve damage in Zumaya's arm
SEATTLE -- The good news for Joel Zumaya is that there's no nerve damage in his right arm. The bad news is that there's still no firm diagnosis on what exactly is causing the trouble that has the Tigers right-hander again shut down from throwing.
Zumaya had another visit Monday with noted orthopedic surgeon James Andrews, who conducted another battery of tests. This time, they added a nerve conduction study. Like all the other tests, it came up with nothing glaring.
"Nothing really jumped out at us any more than what we had already determined," said Tigers head athletic trainer Kevin Rand.
The test results are being forwarded to Tigers team physician Stephen Lemos. He'll look them over and then join in on a conference call Wednesday with Andrews, Rand, Zumaya and one of his agents. Together, they're going to decide whether it's better for Zumaya to go through the strengthening and rehab process again or go with a diagnostic arthroscopy, otherwise known as exploratory surgery.
The rehab process without surgery would probably take another six weeks. The surgery would knock him out for longer, but they might get to the bottom of the issue. Either way, it isn't an easy decision.
For the time being, Zumaya is limited to treatment on the elbow, which underwent surgery last year for a fractured olecranon bone at the tip.
"The bone, according to the CT scans, it's basically healed up," Rand said. "It's kind of a puzzle. Nobody can point and say, 'That's the reason he has pain. That's why there's pain.'
"It's frustrating for Joel. It's frustrating because he rested for six weeks, went and picked up a baseball and everything felt great. Like he said, 24 throws in [to playing catch last week], he felt great. On the 25th throw, he felt something, and now he can't pick up a baseball."
Either way, Zumaya is going to be out through at least May, which explains the procedural move the Tigers made on Monday -- they transferred Zumaya from the 15- to the 60-day disabled list. The move is retroactive, meaning Zumaya is eligible to return at the end of May.
Perry has smooth relief outing for Toledo
SEATTLE -- Ryan Perry had a smooth inning of relief in his second rehab appearance Monday for Triple-A Toledo, retiring the side in order in a 15-pitch frame. That follows up his 27-pitch outing for the Mud Hens last Friday, which included three hits and four batters retired.
The plan Perry discussed last week involved two outings before he's eligible to be activated from the disabled list on Wednesday. Assuming Perry feels fine on Tuesday, he's expected to fly to Seattle in time to be ready, active and available for Wednesday afternoon's series finale vs. the Tigers.
Perry went on the disabled list two weeks ago with an eye infection. That has cleared up, allowing him to wear contacts. He had nothing wrong with the arm, so the rehab has basically been a way to work his way back into game action.
Jackson expectedly returns to leadoff spot
SEATTLE -- Austin Jackson's stint in the second spot of the order, as expected, was brief. With left-hander Jason Vargas on the mound Monday for the Mariners, Jackson was back leading off in the Tigers' 8-3 win and went 0-for-4.
That's where he's likely to remain, slump or streak.
"He's a little frustrated right now," said manager Jim Leyland, "but that's understandable. He's going to be fine. We've got to get him going. He's our catalyst. But I don't want to put any pressure on him talking about it every day, either."
Jackson batted second on Sunday, with Will Rhymes getting a day atop the order. But Leyland gave no indication the move would be longterm, and the Tigers didn't muster much offense with the switch.