WASHINGTON -- It is likely no team was more relieved about the Twins trading Denard Span to the National League than the Tigers, who had seen enough damage from him over the past five years.
These last two games in Washington have provided a reminder why they were glad to see Span dealt out of the American League Central.
"I have always hated facing him," catcher Alex Avila said after Wednesday's loss, "so I was glad that he came here, they traded him out of Minnesota. We always mess around, though. He's a really good guy."
Span singled and tripled in his first two at-bats Wednesday night, then added a double on Thursday. He entered Thursday batting .344 (95-for-276) for his career against Detroit, with 11 doubles, nine triples, a home run, 25 RBIs and 49 runs scored in 67 games. No other AL opponent came close to seeing that type of production from Span, his .329 average against the White Sox being the next closest.
The Twins traded him last November to Washington for pitching prospect Alex Meyer in an effort to better compete with pitching-heavy teams like Detroit.
Avila said he was relieved that the Tigers only had to face Span twice this season. Then he realized the Nationals come to Detroit for two more games at the end of July.
"Well, maybe by then we'll figure out a way to get him out," Avila said with a smile.
Miggy playing through back soreness
WASHINGTON -- Miguel Cabrera can create a highlight every time he takes a swing. He can also create a panic every time he takes a funny step.
Wednesday night was a case for the latter.
Cabrera drove in Detroit's lone run off Jordan Zimmermann with an RBI single through the middle, but it was his groundout to short in his next at-bat that had Tigers fans abuzz, wondering if Cabrera was trying to hide an injury.
Cabrera did not show any sign of being limited in the eighth inning, when he flew out to center, or at third base.
After the game, he confirmed he's playing through an issue, but downplayed the severity.
"My back was tight, a little sore," Cabrera said Wednesday night. "My lower back. It's no big deal. I was able to play nine innings with that. Hopefully tomorrow, I'll work out, be able to stretch and be ready to play."
Manager Jim Leyland also downplayed any issue Wednesday night, saying simply that he's fine.
Cabrera reported to Nationals Park early on Thursday for treatment. He said before the series finale that he's feeling OK, and he was in his usual spot in the lineup.
Cabrera said he has been playing through the issue for the past few days. It has not shown so far in his hitting; he batted 11-for-16 with runners in scoring position over his last 11 games entering Thursday.
The Tigers return to Detroit for a six-game homestand beginning Friday night, then hit the road for Texas and Cleveland, so they'll have the DH spot available to get Cabrera out of the field for a day without removing his bat from the lineup if Leyland so chooses. The downside is it would essentially replace DH Victor Martinez in the lineup with a reserve third baseman, either Don Kelly, Matt Tuiasosopo or Ramon Santiago.
Prospect Collins continues to hit at Double-A
WASHINGTON -- The home run power has finally cooled for Tigers outfield prospect Tyler Collins, but the 22-year-old left-handed hitter remains on a roll at Double-A Erie, where his .333 (11-for-33) average and six home runs over his last 10 games have raised his average on the season to .260 and his OPS to .903.
Collins, the Tigers' No. 6 prospect, homered six times in a five-game span from April 30 to May 4, earning him Eastern League Player of the Week honors. He hasn't homered since, but has been walked four times in as many games as opponents adjust their plans against him.
Collins has already matched his homer total from all of last season at Class A Lakeland, though that admittedly came in a pitcher-friendly home ballpark. Power totals often jump from Lakeland to Erie, though usually not to this degree.
Collins had a solid Spring Training with the Tigers before being sent down, batting .323 (10-for-31) with two doubles, two triples, a home run and five RBIs to solidify a place on the organizational map.