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McCann 'fully' expects to play in DH nightcap

Tigers catcher left Sunday's game with left-sided intercostal spasm
MLB.com @beckjason

DETROIT -- The Tigers have survived a multitude of injuries this season to stay competitive, but can ill afford to lose catcher James McCann. They're hoping he doesn't have a lingering injury after leaving Sunday's 8-4 loss to the Blue Jays with what the team called a left-sided intercostal spasm.

McCann caught the first six innings of Michael Fulmer's start, but said he felt a tweak in his back when he ran to cover first base in the fifth inning during Russell Martin's rundown.

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DETROIT -- The Tigers have survived a multitude of injuries this season to stay competitive, but can ill afford to lose catcher James McCann. They're hoping he doesn't have a lingering injury after leaving Sunday's 8-4 loss to the Blue Jays with what the team called a left-sided intercostal spasm.

McCann caught the first six innings of Michael Fulmer's start, but said he felt a tweak in his back when he ran to cover first base in the fifth inning during Russell Martin's rundown.

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"I can't tell what motion caused it," McCann said. "It was on that play, where I ran down to get into the rundown. And when I got down to first, I couldn't catch my breath. It was because of the spasm.

"I went back in after that inning, got some work on it, stretched it out and was fine the following inning. Then it started to tighten up again, and we just kind of came to the determination that it wasn't worth the risk to stay in, knowing we have a doubleheader tomorrow, and knowing the schedule that lies ahead. It wasn't worth the risk of possibly really hurting it."

The Tigers have a day-night doubleheader against the Yankees on Monday, then six more games before their next scheduled off-day, June 11. Detroit had three catchers on its 25-man roster while Miguel Cabrera was injured, but returned Grayson Greiner to Triple-A Toledo earlier this week as Cabrera neared his return.

Manager Ron Gardenhire said McCann is scheduled to start behind the plate in the nightcap. The Tigers can use a 26th player for Monday's doubleheader, but that slot is going to right-hander Sandy Baez, who will be called up from Double-A Erie to serve as an extra reliever.

If McCann can't go, Hicks could end up catching both games.

"I expect fully to play [Monday]," McCann said.

VerHagen returns
The Tigers did make a postgame move Sunday, selecting the contract of right-hander Drew VerHagen from Triple-A Toledo. He'll start Game 1 Monday.

VerHagen entered the season as a setup man in the Tigers' bullpen, but struggled through much of April before being designated for assignment and outrighted to Toledo. He returned to a starting role there and has shown marked improvement, posting a 2-0 record and 1.32 ERA in six starts while allowing just 13 hits over 27 1/3 innings with 41 strikeouts.

To make room on the roster, the Tigers optioned righty reliever Johnny Barbato back to the Mud Hens.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.

Detroit Tigers, James McCann