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Gerber shirks family reunion for trip to bigs

Special to MLB.com

PITTSBURGH -- Outfielder Mike Gerber got a brief taste of the Major Leagues as the Tigers' 26th man in last Friday's doubleheader, but he returned to Triple-A Toledo knowing he'd soon see familiar faces. The Mud Hens were headed to play a four-game series in Pawtucket, and most of his family lives in Rhode Island and Connecticut.

Gerber's family had just traveled to Detroit to see his first Major League action, but another contingent would be waiting for him at McCoy Stadium. Both his mom and aunt work for the school district of Pawtucket, and they planned to bring their entire office to cheer him on.

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PITTSBURGH -- Outfielder Mike Gerber got a brief taste of the Major Leagues as the Tigers' 26th man in last Friday's doubleheader, but he returned to Triple-A Toledo knowing he'd soon see familiar faces. The Mud Hens were headed to play a four-game series in Pawtucket, and most of his family lives in Rhode Island and Connecticut.

Gerber's family had just traveled to Detroit to see his first Major League action, but another contingent would be waiting for him at McCoy Stadium. Both his mom and aunt work for the school district of Pawtucket, and they planned to bring their entire office to cheer him on.

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But another reunion would not be in the cards for Gerber, as the Tigers called him back up to the big leagues on Monday before the 25-year-old had a chance to see any of his family in Pawtucket.

"I said, 'Mom, I can't get you tickets,'" Gerber recalled from their talk on the phone. "She said, 'Why not?' I said, 'Well I'm going to Pittsburgh. I'm not going to be here anymore.

"I was supposed to get 15 or 16 tickets. I apologized to all of them that I couldn't get them tickets, but they understood and were happy for me."

Gerber's plans to meet people at the field and get dinner afterwards were dashed, but he's not complaining. Plus he won't be alone in Pittsburgh: his wife, Caroline, flew in to potentially see his first Major League at-bat.

Gardy ready for NL strategy

Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire has managed his entire career in the American League, but he's very comfortable playing with National League rules. His .521 career winning percentage in NL parks -- compared to a .506 mark overall -- is a testament to that.

In anticipation of the series, the Tigers recalled Gerber to give them a fifth bench bat, and Gardenhire mentioned in particular that he will save the team's regular designated hitter, Victor Martinez, for a key pinch-hit appearance late in the game.

Video: BAL@DET: Martinez skies a two-run homer to left

"You can do a little creative stuff with the double-switches and all of those things, but most of it is pretty laid out for you," Gardenhire said. "Some guys get out there pretty far, and that's entertaining to watch."

Tigers hope to retain VerHagen

Although Detroit designated right-handed reliever Drew VerHagen for assignment on Tuesday, the club still has high hopes for him and hopes he will clear waivers and stay in the organization.

VerHagen impressed out of Spring Training, but struggled in the regular season with a 6.30 ERA and 7 walks in 10 innings. Should he clear waivers, VerHagen will have an extra hurdle to clear to rejoin the Major League club, as he'll need to be re-added to the 40-man roster.

"He's going to have to go down and we're going to have to see results," Gardenhire said. "Not just one or two days, we're going to have to see some time here where he comes out consistently and he's in the zone."

Ben Weinrib is a contributor to MLB.com.

Detroit Tigers, Mike Gerber