Big League Stew

Meanwhile, back in the Detroit Tigers camp …

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

Though they've been on baseball's back burner for four days now, the Detroit Tigers aren't kicking back at home, challenging each other to Xbox tournaments and throwing the frisbee around.

Nor are they complaining about what will end up being a six-day layoff by the time they kick off Wednesday's Game 1 of the World Series in either St. Louis or San Francisco.

"When you sweep the New York Yankees, I don't give a (hoot) if we wait three weeks to the World Series," manager Jim Leyland told USA Today.

Still, there are wrinkles to iron out and talent to keep fresh, so the Tigers held a scrimmage on Sunday and plan to hold another on Monday before learning just how far west they'll have to travel for their first Fall Classic game since 2006. (One wonders how many jokes Justin Verlander will endure on that tarmac for putting up a poor start in the All-Star game that gave the National League team home-field advantage in the World Series.)

The main news out of Sunday's scrimmage was struggling closer Jose Valverde pitching the bottom of the first inning, giving up two hits, a walk and a run in his simulated appearance. But it's hard to even turn that into a headline given the way the Tigers approached this warmup, which included minor-league players from the team's instructional league squad.

Miguel Cabrera acted like he had just collected the winning single in Game 7 of the World Series when he managed a hit off the Big Potato and the two joked once he reached first base.

From the Detroit Free Press:

"I would not say they're real fired up," Leyland said (about the scrimmaging). "I can't tell a lie. I doubt very much that they're all pumped up for it.

"But I think they're taking it the right way and going about it the right way. I'm not too excited about it myself to be honest with you."

It's hard to blame a team for struggling in that type of low-key exercise when they've just come off two straight weeks of packed stadiums and pressure-filled moments. If anything, they'd probably be better off practicing for all the questions they're going to get about the layoff once they hit Tuesday's media day sessions.

With the Cardinals and Giants going the distance, the Tigers are now in almost the exact same situation as they were in 2006 when the Cardinals and Mets went seven games in the NLCS. But no matter what they say or how they scrimmage, the fact is that how they'll answer those questions begins and ends with the performance of Verlander's right arm on Wednesday night.

Make sure all your bases are covered this postseason ...
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