DETROIT -- Jose Cabrera is back in the Tigers' lineup. The team activated its slugging first baseman from the 10-day disabled list on Friday and put him in his customary third spot in the batting order in Friday's 5-2 win over the Blue Jays at Comerica Park."I think he was
DETROIT -- Jose Cabrera is back in the Tigers' lineup. The team activated its slugging first baseman from the 10-day disabled list on Friday and put him in his customary third spot in the batting order in Friday's 5-2 win over the Blue Jays at Comerica Park.
"I think he was nervous," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I think he felt a little anxiety, which was really cool for a guy that's played that long. But he did just fine."
Said Cabrera: "I always say when I don't feel that [nervousness], it's time to go home. I like to feel those butterflies."
Cabrera went 1-for-3 with a walk and a couple hard-hit swings. He grounded into a first-inning double play on a ball hit up the middle at 105 mph, according to Statcast™, then hit a line-drive single in the fifth inning with a 108.3-mph exit velocity.
"I feel good," Cabrera said.
Cabrera had been out since May 4 with a right hamstring strain. His rehab was slowed a bit from soreness in his lower back, which had bothered him for most of last season. Cabrera's progress over the past five days, however, put him back on track to return to action.
"Most guys we would send down on a rehab and let them get some swings, but Cabby's a little different breed," Gardenhire said. "He can flat-out hit and always has been able to. I guess we'll all get a chance to see how his timing is early in the game, but I think he'll figure it out pretty quick."
Cabrera's return sparked a shakeup in Detroit's batting order. While Cabrera goes to his usual third spot, Jeimer Candelario -- who had been batting third in recent days -- moved to the leadoff spot against Blue Jays lefty Jaime Garcia. Candelario will continue batting atop the order against lefty starters, Gardenhire said, with Leonys Martin leading off against righties. Candelario recorded an RBI single on Friday, while Martin notched a double and an RBI groundout.
Though Gardenhire said he prefers Candelario in RBI situations, he noted the move was in line with analytics suggesting he was a good option up top. Candelario batted second for the first stretch of the season before swapping spots with Nicholas Castellanos a week or two ago.
"I'm going with some of the stuff that I get from the people up there," Gardenhire said, referencing the analytics department.
Jose Iglesias also returned to the Tigers' lineup after missing Thursday's game with a right hip contusion, and he went 1-for-3 with a double and a run scored. Add in Martin's return to action after missing Thursday for a cortisone injection in his right hamstring, and the lineup is close to full strength. The one Opening Day starter missing was Dixon Machado, whom Gardenhire said will now fall into a mix at second base with utility infielders Niko Goodrum and Ronny Rodriguez. Rodriguez was called up Thursday from Triple-A Toledo and started Friday.
"I'm just going to mix it up," Gardenhire said.
Cabrera's move was part of a busy Friday for the Tigers, who also called up reliever Zac Reininger from Triple-A Toledo to add a fresh arm to a taxed bullpen. Lefty Ryan Carpenter, who left his start Thursday in the fifth inning with a right oblique strain, was placed on the 10-day DL as expected. Infielder Pete Kozma was designated for assignment.
Kozma, who batted .175 (7-for-40) in 15 games for Detroit but played exceptional defense at shortstop, second and third, can decline a Minor League assignment and elect free agency if he clears waivers.
"That's the worst part of this whole deal," Gardenhire said. "Koz is just such a pro, the way he fields the ball. He's a perfect fit for a utility infielder."
• Starter Jordan Zimmermann, sidelined since May 6 with a right shoulder impingement, threw four innings and about 60 pitches in a simulated game Friday afternoon at Comerica Park. Zimmermann said he felt good with no issues, though he threw his glove at the dugout wall after his second inning.
"I was just messing around, keeping you guys on your toes," said Zimmermann, who said he'll make a Minor League rehab start next week.
• Reliever Alex Wilson, out since May 8 with a ruptured plantar fascia in his left foot, threw in the same simulated game and felt fine, both pitching and moving off the mound to field bunts. He'll begin a Minors rehab assignment with an appearance for Toledo next Tuesday.
• Reliever Daniel Stumpf played catch Friday for the first time since he went on the 10-day DL with ulnar nerve irritation in his left elbow. He'll play catch again on Sunday.
• Castellanos and Shane Greene recorded the first episode of their podcast on Friday. It's expected to debut on MLB.com this weekend.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.