ST. PETERSBURG -- Jim Leyland has said numerous times over the past two seasons that he has given more green lights for Tigers hitters to swing on 3-0 counts than he did at his previous stops in Pittsburgh, Florida and Colorado. On Thursday, Brennan Boesch was one of them.
It didn't work. Boesch flew out to center on James Shields' 3-0 pitch with runners on first and second for the second out of the second inning. The intent was to get Boesch to swing at a sure strike instead of chasing, one reason Leyland has given green lights to many slumping hitters on 3-0.
"I let Boesch hit, tried to give him a little confidence," Leyland said. "There's a lot of different schools of thought. Boeschy just missed it, too. He just didn't quite get it out far enough, but he hit it good."
Not many hitters like swinging on 3-0 counts, Leyland said, because they don't want to get caught chasing a pitch out of the strike zone and turning down a walk.
The Tigers have put just three balls in play on 3-0 counts this season, good for an RBI double and a couple of outs. The double actually came from Boesch.
Dirks not yet ready for baseball activities
ST. PETERSBURG -- Andy Dirks will spend at least another week in a walking boot while receiving shockwave therapy on his strained right Achilles. The outfielder, who hasn't played since May 30, was examined by Tigers foot/ankle specialist Dr. Chris Zingas on Friday in Detroit.
"He's not right. He's not ready to start any baseball activities," manager Jim Leyland said. "We were hoping for that. We didn't get it."
The examination showed improvement, but still some discomfort, Tigers head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said.
"He's much improved," Rand said, "but still has point tenderness there. So he's going to continue to be in the boot for another week, and he'll also receive shockwave therapy."
The delay seemingly would push any timetable for a Dirks return past the All-Star break. While he was cleared to start running on a special treadmill, that's about the extent of his physical activity. He'll begin a more full-fledged running program once he's cleared.
Berry using the bunt to his advantage
ST. PETERSBURG -- Quintin Berry came to the Tigers with a reputation as a decent -- but not great -- bunter. But he also didn't hesitate to try. He got his first Major League hit on a bunt attempt that he popped up so strongly that it cleared the infield in Cleveland, allowing him to leg out a double.
After Thursday's roller that hugged the first-base line, Berry now has more bunt hits (five) than the rest of the Tigers combined (four). He entered Friday tied for third in the American League behind the Angels' Erick Aybar (14) and Minnesota's Ben Revere (six).
"I would say he's pretty good at that," manager Jim Leyland said. "I think he got a bunch of bunt base hits last year. It's part of his game. I'm sure he'll try to bunt at some point tonight."
Berry got the start against Rays lefty David Price over Brennan Boesch and Danny Worth in part because he could reach base on a bunt, despite the lefty-on-lefty matchup. Berry moved down to ninth in the order for it, but he got his chance.
Take away the bunt hits, and Berry would be batting .272. Instead, he entered Friday batting .316.
Miguel Cabrera needs four hits to become the seventh Tiger to total 100 hits, 15 home runs and 60 RBIs before the All-Star break. He also did it two years ago. Others include Hank Greenberg in 1935, Al Kaline in 1955, Norm Cash in 1961, Willie Horton in 1970 and Magglio Ordonez in 2006.
Austin Jackson's caught stealing in the fourth inning Friday marked his second in six days. He has been thrown out on consecutive steal attempts for the first time since April 2011.
Justin Verlander's eight strikeouts Friday moved him to 121, ahead of teammate Max Scherzer (114) for the American League lead, and past Washington's Stephen Strasburg (118) for tops in the Majors.
Delmon Young has multiple hits in each of his last three games, going 6-for-13 in that stretch.