Notes: Verlander gets to refuel
Maroth makes first rehab start; trio nears homer record
DETROIT -- Justin Verlander won't be the last Tiger to receive extra rest in preparation for the stretch run if things work out the way manager Jim Leyland hopes they will.
The Tigers' 23-year-old rookie right-hander was scratched from his Aug. 6 start to rest and get some extra work in. Verlander is tied with Roy Halladay and Curt Schilling for the most wins in the Majors and is fine mentally, but all players tire physically in the season's latter months, Leyland reminded.
"I'm going to probably try to do this with a couple other guys, but we talked about this in Spring Training," Leyland said. "You've got to keep everybody as fresh as possible."
In actuality, Leyland does not favor the luxury of expanding rosters to 40 players in September because the additions radically change the dynamics of the game.
"I've never been a big proponent of that, and I never will be," Leyland said. "I think it's the wrong system."
Leyland has maintained this position throughout his career, wherever his team stood in playoff contention.
"I think it penalizes the teams who have done a good job," Leyland said. "What happens is, and I'm not talking about me now, I'm talking about people in general, say any team that's fighting for something. They've worked to get matchups and everybody knows who's on their bench, who's on our bench. All of a sudden, they have eight or nine extra guys."
Suddenly, the teams who played against each other earlier in the season look much different. as does the strategy.
"When you're sitting there with four extra players, and [the other team] is sitting there with four extra players, you pretty much know what situation might develop," Leyland said. "A month from now, we'll probably both be sitting there with 10 extra players, so it doesn't matter what you do because you can't make a good managerial move."
Of course, given the way the system works out, the Tigers manager appreciates the relief for his players, who have been going all-out for five months, but the Tigers manager is not looking for any wonders.
"Sept. 1 obviously is a magical date because it makes it easier to do it, because you can add to your roster and you can protect your bullpen more," Leyland said. "It's not so much who's going to start that game, but the fact that you have excess guys in your bullpen to help out, so you're not running short like we did last week."
Maroth returns to mound in Toledo: Mike Maroth gave up a pair of home runs on Wednesday night in his first rehab start at Triple-A. He allowed three runs on as many hits in three innings, walking two and striking out a pair over 60 pitches.
"I would give [my effort] a 10," Maroth said. "Just because I was able to make it through. The first one always is the toughest. I didn't have any expectations about pitches or anything like that, and there's obviously some things I need to work on."
The Hens took Maroth off the hook for a 5-4 win. More significant than the numbers was that Maroth's outing was another step forward in his recovery since June 2 surgery to remove bone chips from his left elbow.
"It was more important for me to get out there for a while," Maroth said. "That was the most important thing. Now I can see what I need to work on. My sinker and changeup were not very good at all, so in a couple days when I throw off the mound I'll work on that."
For now, Maroth can enjoy the feeling of pitching in front of his first crowd in slightly more than two months.
"You can't make up adrenaline and you get that when you're in a game situation," Maroth said. "You've got fans in the seats and you've got fielders behind you and you don't have that [in a simulated game]."
Up, up and away: Craig Monroe, Dmitri Young and Brandon Inge have all played in Detroit since 2002, two years after Comerica Park opened in 2000. Now, each of the three Tigers batters is within four home runs of tying Carlos Pena, who called Comerica Park home from 2002-2005.
Pena's 37 home runs are the most home runs in the park's history. Entering Wednesday's homestand finale, Monroe had 35, Young had 34 and Inge had 33.
Monroe was not aware of his ascent toward the top of the park's hitting charts.
"I don't know, because I didn't know I was up there," Monroe said. "I guess it's a good feeling. It just says I've probably been here longer than anybody and I get lucky a few more times than anyone else here. I think the individual stuff doesn't matter."
What is important is the here and now of winning games.
"The bottom line is that you want to win games," Monroe said. "When I'm done playing baseball and it's up there, then yeah, I'll probably be like, 'I did these things,' but right now I don't focus on individual stuff, [I'm] just trying to win games."
Comerica Park's spacious dimensions of 345 ft., 370 ft., 420 ft., 365 ft. and 330 ft. from left to right field can provide a challenge for hitters, but the same challenge can also be beneficial, Monroe said.
"It actually helps you if you try to hit line drives and focus on those things. There's a lot of parks where you can mis-hit balls and the park is hitter-friendly and the ball goes out of the park. Here, you want to try to be a good hitter."
Through his career, Monroe is grateful for the discipline that the park has helped him to cultivate.
"If you're trying to hit home runs, you're probably not going to hit it at Comerica Park, but it also allows you to be a better hitter because you have to just work on making some solid contact and getting those hard line drives."
Young agrees with Monroe's focus. What's more, most records don't last too long.
"If it helps the team win, you know I'm all for it," Young said. "It would be nice, but you know how that goes. It's going to be broken soon enough by somebody on this team."
Coming up: The Tigers have an off-day on Thursday and open a three-game series at Chicago on Friday at 8:35 p.m. ET with righty Verlander on the mound.
Sam Miller is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.