CHICAGO -- Though video of the Tigers' hot-foot practical joke on Don Kelly became a sensation on Sunday's game broadcast and a pregame topic of discussion on Monday, Kelly said he wasn't the intended target of the Justin Verlander gag.
Instead, Kelly said, it was Tigers rookie starter Duane Below. Kelly said Below stepped away just as the prank was being prepared.
"I just happened to be the guy standing next to Below," Kelly said. "It was not intended for me."
Kelly still has the shoe that got ignited, but it shows no damage. Considering the footage that showed a very noticeable flame building on it, even Kelly was surprised.
"I was walking down the dugout, giving high-fives," Kelly said, "and there's a ball of flame coming out of my foot."
Bunting to be part of Jackson's game
CHICAGO -- The Tigers' Austin Jackson isn't nearly the speedster that Chicago's Juan Pierre is, and he'll never be able to match him when it comes to laying down and running out a well-placed bunt. Still, there's something Jackson might be able to learn from Pierre and his style of game.
"I think bunting for a base hit is a total confidence thing," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said on Tuesday.
The Tigers have wanted to see more bunt-single attempts out of Jackson, and they've been actively encouraging him lately to look for opportunities. Part of the challenge, first-base coach and baserunning coach Tom Brookens said, is to convince players that just because a bunt doesn't result in a hit, doesn't mean it was a bad decision.
Leyland said the same thing.
"When guys don't get it down right and they get thrown out, they're mad because they think they were going to get a hit for sure. Sometimes you tell guys, 'It's part of your game.' I mean, to me, that should be part of Austin Jackson's game. And it is, and it'll get better. At some point, he's going to be able to bunt for a base hit, hit a double, hit a homer. That should be part of his game."
The Tigers won't set a rule for Jackson to lay down a bunt every game or anything like that, but they want to increase his awareness of when he has a chance to bunt for a hit. That's going on now, and Brookens said they're seeing progress.
Inge officially joins Triple-A Toledo
CHICAGO -- A month after Brandon Inge completed a rehab assignment at Triple-A Toledo, he was back on a full-time basis on Tuesday night for the start of the Mud Hens' homestand. The longtime Tiger cleared waivers Tuesday afternoon and was officially outrighted to Toledo.
The assignment completes last Wednesday's roster move to designate his contract after Detroit acquired Wilson Betemit from Kansas City. As a player with 10 years of Major League service time, all with the Tigers, Inge had the right to decline a Minor League assignment and ask for his release, which the Tigers would've had to honor. He decided to accept it after talking with his agent and organizational officials.
Inge had to agree to a Minor League deal to make the move official. He was in the Mud Hens' starting lineup on Tuesday at third base.
Inge is expected to remain in Toledo for at least the next few weeks. He indicated last week that he expects to be back with the team no later than September, when Major League rosters expand. To do so, though, would require him being placed back on the 40-man roster.
Prospect Turner back on the mound
CHICAGO -- Tigers top prospect Jacob Turner returned to the rotation at Double-A Erie on Monday night with eight innings of three-run ball after having his turn in the SeaWolves rotation skipped last week. It didn't result in a victory, but it was a note of encouragement nonetheless for Tigers officials.
Turner (3-5) took the loss in a 3-2 defeat to Richmond at Jerry Uht Park in Erie. He struck out eight batters while walking only one.
Detroit made the decision to push back Turner after a busy week that included appearances in the All-Star Futures Game and Eastern League All-Star Game before he was pushed up to start for Erie on the Friday after the All-Star break. That had put him on track to start last Wednesday, but officials decided otherwise.
Tigers vice president and assistant general manager Al Avila said at the time that they were watching Turner's workload. He pitched 115 1/3 innings last year in his first professional season, and he's just five outs shy of that this season after Monday's outing.Major League organizations generally don't want too dramatic of a jump in innings from one year to the next year for young pitchers, and the 20-year-old Turner is no exception.