BALTIMORE -- No, doubles aren't a Triple Crown category, but they might be the extra-base category where Miguel Cabrera has his best chance to challenge some of the all-time greats.
Cabrera, 30, is just the 16th active Major League player with 400 doubles in his career. None of the other 15 are younger than 33. The closest player age 30 or younger to Cabrera in doubles is Robinson Cano with 345.
Cabrera has averaged 40 doubles a season as a Tiger, including a league-high 48 in 2011. With 15 doubles already this season, he's on pace to top 40 again.
At that pace, Cabrera could join the exclusive 600-double club, currently occupied by a dozen players, sometime in his mid-30s. From there, it's a short stretch before the top 10. Hank Aaron currently sits 10th with 624.
Verlander on board with Home Run Derby campaign
BALTIMORE -- It started with a tweet from a fan and a clip of a home run he hit over the Green Monster at Fenway Park during batting practice last season.
Now, Justin Verlander is casually campaigning for write-in votes at MLB.com's Home Run Derby Fan Poll.
"I don't want to campaign for myself," Verlander said Friday afternoon. "If other people want to campaign for me, that's fine."
He can say that, but his retweet of the #VoteVerlander hashtag with a link to the poll, as well as tweets from fans who voted for him, wasn't exactly indifference, either.
Make no mistake, he's enjoying this.
"I'm having fun with it," he said. "I saw some girl tweet it this morning and said she voted. I saw it and I was like, 'That sounds like a cool idea.' …
"Yeah, I would do it. I would."
Verlander doesn't have a base hit in the big leagues, let alone a home run. He's 0-for-24 with 14 strikeouts for his Major League career, leaving him to watch teammates like Rick Porcello and Doug Fister pass him by. Even former teammate Jeremy Bonderman leads him on the all-time hit list, having recorded one in 2007.
Verlander would argue that game hits aren't relevant to the Derby. His batting-practice sessions are more pertinent, and he can hit there. When he gets to take batting practice ahead of a start in Interleague Play, he usually takes at least one round to swing for the fences.
"I go deep all the time," Verlander said, prompting more than one reporter to bust out laughing.
"What are you laughing for? It's not a joke. In Houston, I hit one that would've gone out of the stadium if it didn't hit the baggie. I'm a 5 o'clock hitter."
Teammates who have done it, such as reigning Home Run Derby champion Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera, could tell him the environment is completely different in the Derby with no cage surrounding a hitter.
"I say I'd hit three or four," Verlander said. "That's my guess. Of course, a lot of people have said that."
Even if he didn't hit one, though, he wouldn't care.
"I mean, what's the worst thing that can happen? You go up there and not hit one? So what," he said. "Nobody would expect me to hit one anyway, so I've got nothing to lose. I'm the darkhorse in the competition."
The other problem Verlander faces is that it's a fan poll, not an actual ballot. Though the voting page includes buttons for 10 players from each league, including Fielder and Cabrera, plus a write-in space, it also includes a message.
"Remember, we appreciate your feedback," the message reads, "but your selections will not determine the actual participants of the 2013 Home Run Derby."
Still, a fan surge might provide some encouragement.
"If I get voted in, I can't not go," Verlander said half-jokingly. "We're here for the fans."
Verlander's catcher, Alex Avila, happened upon the conversation on his way to his locker and shook his head.
"I don't even know how to handle you right now," Avila said with a smile.
Verlander didn't miss a beat.
"These guys are getting a little upset because I've got more pop than they do," Verlander joked. "My BP pop."
Jackson tests out injured left hamstring
BALTIMORE -- With the Tigers not hitting on the field at Camden Yards on Friday, the team medical staff took the opportunity to test out Austin Jackson's left hamstring and see just how close he might be to game action.
On an otherwise empty diamond, there was Jackson accelerating around first base as if he was legging out a double. It's the type of acceleration that gave him trouble when he was trying to play through a hamstring pull a few weeks ago. Head athletic trainer Kevin Rand watched him closely.
Jackson told FOX Sports Detroit on Thursday that he hopes to be ready for a Minor League rehab assignment at some point next week. He'll have to take batting practice and shag fly balls for a few days before he's cleared, but that shouldn't be much trouble if he's running pain-free.
The Tigers have been fortunate to get production out of center field over the last few weeks with Jackson out, manager Jim Leyland has said more than once. After two 1-0 extra-inning losses to the Pirates in three days, however, Leyland said Thursday that they might finally be feeling his impact.
"You're seeing a little bit of the absence of Austin starting to catch up with us," Leyland said.
Tigers dodge the heat, skip BP in Baltimore
BALTIMORE -- The combination of temperatures in the 90s at Camden Yards and an extra-inning game Thursday night in Pittsburgh led the Tigers to skip batting practice before Friday's series opener against the Orioles. In the midst of a difficult stretch, the idea of keeping players fresh took precedence over any idea of hitting extra in the midst of offensive struggles.
Hitters could still hit in the cage if they wanted. The team just wasn't going to bring hitters outside in the heat for it on Friday.
Manager Jim Leyland has his own views on extra batting practice, he admitted, but he keeps out of it.
"I don't discourage it or encourage it," he said. "I have my own beliefs, and my own beliefs don't coincide with a lot of people's beliefs, to be honest with you.
"I think guys that are playing every day, personally, I think they hit way too much. I think they take too much batting practice, too much soft-toss, too much [hitting in the] cage, too much live BP. But that's just my opinion. I'm not saying I'm right. It's a tricky thing now. I think it's just something that's become more of a habit."
Leyland has said in the past that extra batting practice has taken on the perception as a panacea for struggling players.
"In fairness to everybody," Leyland said, "I think what happens is if players are struggling a little bit, then they don't want to give people the impression they're not working hard. The hitting coach doesn't want to give somebody the impression he's not working hard.
"Everybody thinks it's the cure-all to hit extra every time you don't hit. I don't personally buy that myself."