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Detroit Tiger Links: J.D. Martinez still isn’t close to returning

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Martinez still has yet to play defense in extended spring training.

Minnesota Twins v Detroit Tigers Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

Time for the weekly run down of Detroit Tigers that are good at playing baseball but are not currently playing for the Tigers. First, the good news. JaCoby Jones appears very close to a return, and is simply getting some extra at bats in Triple-A Toledo. He hasn’t set the world on fire offensively, but would be a major defensive upgrade in center field. Other good news includes the minor nature of Ian Kinsler’s hamstring injury. Manager Brad Ausmus called it a short-term injury on Thursday, so no disabled list for Kinsler.

The bad news comes in when discussing J.D. Martinez. While he has been hitting in extended spring training games this week, there doesn’t appear to be much movement toward his return to the team.

“There’s nothing new,” Ausmus said. “There’s no schedule for him to go out on a rehab. When he feels like he’s able to play and run the bases in the outfield, he’ll play. Until he tells us he’s capable of doing that, he’s probably just going to be DH-ing in extended spring training games and really not running the bases.”

So... yeah, that doesn’t sound good. I won’t speculate too much, but that response definitely puts the timeline out another couple weeks with a high probability of an extended stop in Triple-A Toledo. Not great.

Another minor league mishap

Double-A Erie reliever Paul Voelker was suspended for 50 games for testing positive for amphetamines. Voelker is the third Tiger minor leaguer to draw a drug suspension this year. The other two are Tommy Collier (also playing in Erie) for 50 games for a second positive for a drug of abuse, and Jose Ramirez, who was suspended 72 games for testing positives for Stanozolol.

Voelker is the bigger name here, having recently ranked among the top 15 Tigers prospects, but it’s never a great sign to see an organization racking up drug suspensions.

Two of these are not like the others

The absolute worst thing that could happen to you when facing Aroldis Chapman

Starting pitching: not the problem

Outside of a couple “clunkers,” as Brad Ausmus called them, the Tigers’ starting pitching has fared well in 2017. Matt Boyd contributed their 17th quality start through 27 games, good for the most in the league.

Considering where the total pitching ERA is, I was not aware that the rotation had posted so many quality starts. But with those starters usually leaving in the sixth, and the albatross that is the bullpen, it makes sense.

For your free time

After 2016’s crazy home run rate, the ball continues to exit the park. A look at the National League from Jon Heyman, if you haven’t been paying much attention. Pedro Martinez says there is something wrong with how the Mets are training their pitchers. That’s a pretty bold claim, but...

/looks at the Mets’ pitchers

...might be worth looking into. Red Sox starter Steven Wright will undergo season-ending surgery. Jonah Keri on how cord cutting could effect baseball’s future.

Baseball is awesome