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Detroit Tigers notebook: Nick Castellanos day-to-day after hit by pitch

The inning break clock made its first appearance in Tuesday's game, six Tigers batters have been hit in the last two days, and Alex Avila is taking paternity leave for three days.

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

LAKELAND, Fla. — Baseball happened on Tuesday and some other things took place. Nothing too over the top, just a 15-2 Tigers' blowout win that included a grand slam and four hit batters. Miguel Cabrera is also feeling so well that he felt the need to dribble a basketball after batting practice.

Whereas Victor Martinez has to have the baseballs taken away to ensure he won't be "hitting 'til the cows come home," Cabrera has at least now reached the point where he can be a little more loose with his regimen. Martinez, on the other hand, hasn't quite graduated to that level yet as he's three weeks removed from surgery.

"I talked to (Cabrera) this morning," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "He said he felt real good after yesterday. He looked fine during batting practice. Seemed to be in a good mood, he was dribbling a basketball afterwards so he must've felt real good. When I came out there I stared at him. He wasn't playing basketball he was just dribbling."

Six players hit by pitches in the last two days and other injuries

It's only been two games. Most pitchers aren't exactly in mid-season form just yet, except for maybe Ubaldo Jimenez who clearly hasn't missed a beat. The timing is off and there's now an inning break clock that you can probably see from Winter Haven to think about. The Florida humidity is going to mess with the grip on a ball and pitchers are working with a half-dozen different catchers.

Now, with that said, six hit batters over the course of two days is a bit much. Not so much where you'd call the union and complain, but four while facing the team that kicked Detroit out of the playoffs too early, is still a lot. The Tigers didn't take it personally because there's just no point right now. There was no clearing of the dugouts or brawls, just good old fashioned dingers that settled the score.

"Obviously there's no intent there," Ausmus said. "It's just early in the spring, pitchers don't have their command. Don't want anyone to get hurt. It looks like nobody has so we're fortunate. Certainly don't want it to become a habit."

Alex Avila, Nick Castellanos, Ian Kinsler, and Wade Gaynor were all hit by a pitch. Yoenis Cespedes nearly was the fourth victim but he ducked out of the way just in time, narrowly avoiding a high and inside pitch. Instead, he turned the next pitch into a grand slam that he deposited into the left berm.

All were fine, including Castellanos, although the hit did cause him to burst a few blood vessels. The x-rays came back negative, however, and Castellanos was tagged with the typical day-to-day status. The Tigers will re-evaluate him on Wednesday, but Ausmus isn't overly concerned and neither is Castellanos. If he checks out alright in the morning, he'll play in the game in Sarasota, where the Tigers will face off against the O's yet again.

Steven Moya wasn't available to play in Tuesday's league opener because of a back spasm. Ausmus doesn't expect him to miss more than a day and he'll be evaluated in the morning before the team heads to Sarasota for the day. Unless something odd comes up, Ausmus said Moya may well travel with the team.

The inning break clock

Speaking of the clock, it's massive (about seven feet by three feet) but not obnoxious. Unless you're looking for it, the clock isn't all that noticeable. The players didn't have any complaints about its presence on the first day of its use, and even Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said only one pitcher had anything to say about it.

"The only comment I got was from Joe, who he ended up having a lot more time than he really expected," Ausmus said. "I don't think it's going to be that much of a factor."

Nathan, who got the first two batters out on just a handful of pitches, ended up in a bit of a pickle when he allowed back-to-back singles. But even during the breaks, pauses, and shuffling that went on before and during the inning, Nathan said he was left with plenty of time.

Nathan's goal was to stick with his normal pitching routine, but even during times when he slowed it down, there was still an abundance of time. If anything, he expects the clock to have more of an effect on pitchers during a pitching change.

"Especially for us in Detroit because we have a longer walk, or guys in Baltimore," Nathan said. "You know, you can't sprint down concrete stairs, you're going to end up eating it halfway down. It's nice they're at least allowing us to get to the warning track before the clock starts to run."

Avila expected to return on Saturday

Avila was hit by a pitch in the fourth inning during Tuesday's blowout game against the O's, but that's not why he's going to miss the next three days. His wife is expecting their second child on Wednesday, a daughter, and the catcher will be taking some paternity leave. He should be back on Saturday, playing the Braves when the team goes on the road to Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Joakim Soria, Bruce Rondon, and Joba Chamberlain threw live BP

Rondon and Chamberlain took part in a live batting practice session in the back fields today. According to the reports Ausmus received, Rondon's session "looked just fine," and Chamberlain's went well, as expected. And despite Soria remaining out of the pitching schedule for the next five days, he's perfectly healthy and he looked "sharp" during his live BP session.

"That's how he wanted to do it," Ausmus said. "He threw an extra bullpen while the other guys threw live BP. He's kinda catching up on a second live BP here. Today on the back fields, I think that was his second one. When everyone threw their first live BP, he threw one more bullpen. They said Rondon looked just fine. But they said Soria looked sharp."