ST. PETERSBURG -- Contrary to conspiracy theories, the Tigers didn't bring back Brandon Inge from Triple-A Toledo last weekend to serve as a backup catcher with Victor Martinez unable to catch. But now that he's here, he's an option.
According to Tigers manager Jim Leyland, he would be the first option in an emergency if Alex Avila was unable to catch.
"He would be the No. 1 guy," Leyland said, "so that gives you less worries. Basically, you're only talking about emergency situations."
Inge hasn't caught in a game since 2008, when he briefly took over as Ivan Rodriguez's successor down the stretch. Once the Tigers signed Gerald Laird and Matt Treanor that offseason, Inge went back to third base full-time. A year later, he underwent surgery on both knees, which rendered him unable to catch for anything more than a spot occasion.
Leyland has been impressed with Young
ST. PETERSBURG -- A week after being traded from Minnesota to Detroit when they were facing each other at Comerica Park, Delmon Young had another reunion at Tropicana Field, back where his Major League career began.
While Young hasn't been a Tiger for long, it feels like he has a new home. The Tigers certainly feel that way.
"He appears to be very happy," manager Jim Leyland said. "He's a very professional person, very polite, a very interesting guy. He's very bright about the game, and I've really been impressed. And [Twins manager Ron] Gardenhire told me I was going to be. He really liked him."
Young first made an impression on Leyland down the stretch last year, when his production over the second half helped the Twins make up for the loss of Justin Morneau and win the American League Central. Now that he has seen him up close, that impression has been backed up.
It's an impression built from maturity after Young reached the big leagues as a Ray at age 20.
"I can see where he was as well-liked as he was by his teammates and stuff like that," Leyland said. "I think when he first was here, he was real young and full of expectations and everything, probably wasn't settled in yet. He's a good guy. I really like him.
"He's a player. When he hits it, something happens, as you can see. This guy's a real talent. He got a little bigger this year, probably hurt him a little bit. I think if he gets toned down just a little bit at some point, there's no telling what this guy can do. This guy's a real talent. This guy's a run producer. I really like what I've seen. I like him a lot."
Young, meanwhile, has settled into the third spot in the Tigers lineup, immediately ahead of cleanup hitter Miguel Cabrera. Young's double in the eighth inning helped set up two big insurance runs.
"First of all, you don't want to be batting 10th," Young joked. "I appreciate just being in the lineup. But in the three hole, I've got a different mind-set. When guys are on base, I'll try to drive them in. When guys aren't on base, with Miguel, Victor [Martinez], Jhonny [Peralta] and other guys behind me, you at least see some pitches before they get up. So I can go up and take a few more pitches, since they don't want to face those guys with anybody on base."
Regular throwing work pays off for Jackson
ST. PETERSBURG -- Tom Brookens is one of the Major League coaches who believes in regular throwing work for his outfielders, despite the disappearance of infield and outfield practice from most teams' daily routine. Austin Jackson's throw home to nab the would-be tying run in Detroit's win against the Indians on Sunday is a good example of why.
It was probably the best throw of Jackson's brief Major League career, not just because of the situation, but for the accuracy under pressure. It wasn't something Brookens can claim they worked on that day, but it's something they've discussed.
Jackson usually doesn't get that much air on a throw, mainly to give the cutoff man a chance to get an out at another base if there's a realistic chance. That wasn't a concern on Sunday.
"We talked about in a situation like that, making a throw all the way in the air," Brookens said. "You want to fly it in there as hard as you can. He just made a real good play."
He made a play outfielders don't normally get to practice. While outfielders can practice throws to other bases during batting practice, they obviously can't throw home then. Those usually take place during early work, which Brookens says they'll normally do once a homestand.
Years ago, back when teams had dedicated infield practice before every game, outfield throws would be part of it.
"When I played, we took infield almost every day and outfielders threw almost every day," Brookens said. "Now, you've got to come out early to do it."
Martinez a late scratch due to back spasms
ST. PETERSBURG -- Victor Martinez had managed to stay in the Tigers lineup for two weeks after spraining his left knee in Kansas City. But on Monday, it was a bout of lower back spasms that knocked him out. He was a late scratch from Detroit's batting order.
Martinez was slated to bat in his usual spot behind Miguel Cabrera. Without him, Alex Avila moved up to the fifth spot in the order for just the second time this season. Cabrera took the DH spot, while Don Kelly was inserted into the lineup at first base, batting eighth.
Martinez, meanwhile, received treatment throughout the game, according to manager Jim Leyland. He felt well enough that he was in the dugout in the late innings.
"He came out real late in the game and said he was feeling much better, and maybe I could possibly use him if it came to the right situation," Leyland said. "But I wasn't going to do that tonight. I don't want to take any chances with that. I don't want to get greedy. I think it was good to rest him tonight."
Martinez is batting .326 (15-for-46) with two home runs and six RBIs over the last two weeks. His absence tests the depth of a Tigers lineup that has spread out its damage in recent weeks up and down the order.