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Notes, Quotes

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Velander aims to reverse trend of poor Aprils · Notes, Quotes · Roster Report

--2B Carlos Guillen was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday as he slowly recuperates from microfracture surgery on his left knee last September. He remained behind when Detroit left for New York to open the season, scheduled for a consultation with the same therapist who helped OF Clete Thomas come back from the same surgery, although Thomas' operation was earlier in the summer. "We're going to go with a program very similar to that, hoping to get him over this hump," trainer Kevin Rand said. Guillen looked and felt good when spring training began, but as soon as he began increasing the running drills, his knee balked, causing him to ease off.

"He had some increased soreness when we restarted again," Rand said. "It's just going to be one of those rehabs where you just have to treat him symptomatically. The symptoms allow you to progress his activity. When you have to back off, you have to back off. It takes time, and nobody has a crystal ball as to how long that takes."

Guillen did not play any exhibition games, although he originally was forecast to be able to play in mid-March.

--RHP Joel Zumaya, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list, is scheduled to visit Dr. James Andrews on Monday to see if he can get cleared to resume throwing, trainer Kevin Rand said. Zumaya is eager to restart his comeback from elbow surgery performed last summer. Zumaya has not thrown since Feb. 27, and he visited Andrews after experiencing lingering pain in his elbow, which has a screw to hold the tip in place.

"He's doing very well," Rand said. "His range of motion has improved. His strength has improved. We've worked into a pain-free range, and so we're comfortable that hopefully next Monday we'll get the go-ahead to begin throwing again."

--OF Brennan Boesch hit a home run in Detroit's final exhibition game of the season to tie for the club spring lead with four. Boesch was a first-half sensation when called up last May, but after the All-Star break, his batting average was below his weight. He hit well this spring but is scheduled to open the season as a part-time outfielder. Manager Jim Leyland said he believes he can get Boesch enough at-bats to justify keeping him around. "I've never really been a platoon or part-time player," Boesch said. "My job, I think, is to make it as hard as I can for Skipper not to put me in the lineup."

--2B Will Rhymes, a left-handed hitter, will be placed in the second spot in manager Jim Leyland's opening-day batting order even though Detroit is going against Yankees LHP CC Sabathia. Rhymes won the second base job for following up a limited .304 rookie season with a decent spring training. Included in his batting average last year was a .351 mark in 37 at-bats against left-handed pitchers. "He hangs in there, doesn't give any ground," Leyland said.

"I don't know what it is," Rhymes said, "but ever since I was a little kid, I've liked hitting off lefties. I can't point to anything in particular. Maybe it's something about the way the ball moves. Maybe I try to do a little less off them and take singles. That's a good approach for me."

--3B Brandon Inge has a big rooting interest for the NCAA Final Four on Saturday. Inge was drafted in the second round in 1998 by Detroit out of Virginia Commonwealth. "I'd love to see 'em win it, of course," Inge said. "But if they lose, nobody can take anything away from them." He was the Colonial Athletic Association co-player of the year as a junior in 1998. He was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame in 2004. Inge was a guard in basketball at Brookville High School in Lynchburg, Va.

--CF Austin Jackson had an awful spring training in terms of batting average, but manager Jim Leyland is trying to take the pressure off the second-year man. "Everyone wants a complete player in his second year," Leyland said. "But if he starts worrying about homers, he might hit .240. I want the Austin Jackson of last year. If I get that guy, I'll be the happiest guy in Detroit." Jackson ended spring training with a .209 average but with a big walk total that pushed his on-base percentage to .338. "I know I'm doing my job by getting on base," Jackson said. "I am drawing more walks, too."

--RHP Enrique Gonzalez, who made Detroit's bullpen as a non-roster invitee, had his contract purchased Wednesday by the Tigers. Detroit removed INF Audy Ciriaco from its 40-man roster and outrighted him to Class AA Erie to make room for Gonzalez. The right-hander had brief tours with the Tigers last season but was released at the end of the season, only to re-sign a minor league deal later.

--RHP Justin Verlander, Detroit's Opening Day pitcher, has a history of slow starts in his career. In March/April, he's 7-11 with a 5.06 ERA, by far his worst time period. In all other months, he is 76-41 with a 3.60 ERA. "I know I've had success," Verlander said, "but I need to become more consistent with my fastball location. And I need to find a quick way to easier outs, eliminating most of those eight- and nine-pitch at-bats. That's what Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay do. And the big thing is that, this year, I want to start up better."

5.06/2.75 -- Earned run averages posted by RHP Justin Verlander in April and May over his career. A chief emphasis of the Detroit ace this spring was to eliminate that bad first month. He owns a 7-11 career record in 26 April starts but is 18-8 in 29 May starts.

"The thing is to not fall into a performance trap -- to figure out, instead, what's best for the team instead of '0-for-4 off it, 3-for-4 on it.' If you just go only by performance, you're nothing more than a fan." -- Manager Jim Leyland, on figuring out the season-opening roster.

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2017 Team Leaders
AVGNicholas Castellanos , 3B.272
HRNicholas Castellanos , 3B26
RBINicholas Castellanos , 3B101
OBPMiguel Cabrera , 1B.329
SLGNicholas Castellanos , 3B.490
RIan Kinsler , 2B90
SBIan Kinsler , 2B14
WMichael Fulmer , SP10
ERAMichael Fulmer , SP3.83
WHIPMichael Fulmer , SP1.15
KMichael Fulmer , SP114
SVShane Greene , RP9

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