DETROIT -- Former Tigers great Ivan Rodriguez hasn't been back to Comerica Park since he retired, but he'll be back on Thursday for the Game 4 of the American League Championship Series.
The Tigers announced that Rodriguez, who originally was to throw out the ceremonial first pitch for a potential Game 5, will instead do it for Game 4, which was pushed back a day by rain.
Rodriguez, whose arrival in Detroit as a free agent after the 2003 season marked the first big step in the team's return to glory, was a cornerstone on the 2006 team that stunned baseball by reaching the World Series, three years after the Tigers lost an AL-record 119 games in a season. He spent five years with Detroit.
It was Rodriguez who paved the way for the Tigers to convince other top talent, such as Magglio Ordonez and Kenny Rogers, to come to Detroit.
Rodriguez retired in April after a 21-year Major League career. He was honored in a retirement ceremony in Texas, where he spent 13 seasons, but hasn't been back to Detroit.
Infante back in lineup after injuring right thumb
DETROIT -- That sense of relief in the Tigers' clubhouse Tuesday night wasn't just for the 2-1 win they survived for a 3-0 lead in the American League Championship Series. Turns out, it was also for the second baseman whose recent play has quietly become a huge part of Detroit's postseason run.
It wasn't obvious on Mark Teixeira's ground ball through the middle with two outs in the ninth inning, but manager Jim Leyland confirmed that Omar Infante injured his right thumb.
"When he went for the ball up the middle, he caught his thumb on his side," Leyland said. "It's a contusion."
CBSSports.com first reported the injury after Tuesday's game. X-rays taken after the game turned out negative for any structural damage.
The injury wasn't enough to keep Infante out of the lineup for Game 4 on Wednesday night. Leyland waited before filling out his lineup, but received positive word early in the afternoon. Infante later took full batting practice and fielded ground balls without problem before the game was postponed until Thursday.
Infante is batting 8-for-30 (.267) with nine strikeouts this postseason, but his overall play has been borderline stellar at a position where the Tigers had a black hole of production before trading for him on July 24.
Ankle injury no longer an issue for Miggy
DETROIT -- So what was the deal with that limp in third baseman Miguel Cabrera's step after he dashed across the left side of the infield to run down Mark Teixeira's foul ball behind third base in the fourth inning of Game 3 on Tuesday night?
If it's a sign that Cabrera's ankle injury is still an issue, it doesn't appear to be a major one.
"I think that it's still there," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Wednesday afternoon. "I think it's sometimes just [a matter of] the way he has to move. Certain movements bother it. Certain movements don't. Or maybe it just flares up on him. He went quite a ways for that one ball because we were playing [Teixeira] on a shift.
"I noticed [the limp], too. I'm not going to rest him."
The last remark drew a chuckle.
Cabrera did not appear to be hampered by it the rest of the night.
Leyland manages life outside baseball
DETROIT -- On the day Jim Leyland had a chance to take his team to the World Series for the second time in his Tigers tenure, he began his day taking his car to the auto shop.
The postseason brings its own pressures, but the everyday tasks don't do themselves. His wife tried to tell him to forget about it, but he didn't want to let his car go that long without it after the service light popped on.
Yes, the man who lets Justin Verlander go 130 pitches freaks out when the service light pops on.
"I almost overslept. I had to be there at 8 o'clock," Leyland said. "These are late nights. I jumped out of bed at 20 till 8 and said, 'I've gotta go. I've gotta get this done.'
"So I got there. Then I walked about three-fourths of a mile to a restaurant while I was waiting for it to get coffee and breakfast. Then I walked all the way back. ... There were a lot of people at the restaurant. I was taking pictures with them and signing autographs. But I was just walking along. These people probably thought, 'What is this guy doing?'"
No random reports emerged during the morning about Leyland being spotted walking along the street early in the morning. And yes, he did get a free meal out of it. Presumably, it was not yesterday's breakfast.
"One guy said, 'What are you doing?' I said, 'Well, I'm getting my car serviced.' He said, 'Are you nuts? Don't you have somebody do it?' I said, 'No, I don't have somebody do it. You have to take care of stuff.'"
Garcia showing a knack for pinch-hitting
DETROIT -- It's long been said that pinch-hitting is one of the most difficult things to do in baseball. But Tigers 21-year-old outfielder Avisail Garcia is making it look easy.
Following Tuesday night's pinch-hit single against Yankees left-hander Boone Logan, Garcia -- about a month and a half deep into his Major League career -- is 3-for-4 as a pinch-hitter in the postseason.
And his name hasn't been called with a big lead. He's stepped to the dish, cold off the bench, in high-pressure, high-stakes situations. But rather than shy away from the moment, he's embraced it.
"You know, I think nervousness is part of the game," Garcia said. "I'm a human like everybody, so I have to control that and be focused on the game and be positive."
The young Venezuelan was certainly focused in Game 4 of the American League Division Series against Oakland, when runners were on base in the eighth inning of a one-run game. He proceeded to knock in a crucial insurance run, giving Detroit a slightly more comfortable two-run lead.
In Game 2 of the AL Championship Series, he notched another pinch-hit RBI in the eighth inning of a tight game, again driving in a run to increase the Tigers' lead to two.
And Tuesday in Game 3, it could have -- and probably should have -- been three straight pinch-hit RBIs. However, second baseman Omar Infante hesitated to make sure the ball didn't find a glove, resulting in him being held up at third base.
Not many rookies find themselves in the same position as Garcia, called up at the end of August, immediately inserted into the lineup against left-handers, and on a team one win away from the World Series.
"That's probably the hardest thing to do in baseball and I've learned that from being up here and having my pinch-hit role how hard that is," said Quintin Berry, who was 1-for-6 in that situation during the regular season. "The fact that he's able to come through is amazing, especially as young as he is. I'm happy for him and want him to continue to do it and do it for the rest of this postseason."