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LAD@SD: Black on Ross' outing, denied challenge

Considering the coming weather forecast for Detroit calls for one last bout of wintry conditions, perhaps the Tigers would like to stay on the West Coast a while longer.

Then again, considering the juggling act Brad Ausmus has had to perform all week to fit nine batters into eight positional spots, a return to the American League might be welcome, even if it means a farewell to warm sunshine.

Ausmus plans on putting Victor Martinez back in the lineup for Sunday's series finale against the Padres, but he will have to sit somebody else to do it.

There is a chance Martinez could get behind the plate for the second time in six days to catch Max Scherzer, whom he caught for a game in Spring Training. Doing so, however, sacrifices some defense with Alex Avila out, even though it provides an offensive upgrade. Martinez threw out a potential basestealer for the first time in three years Tuesday, nabbing Dee Gordon at second base on a pitchout, but he had other struggles through the game.

Ausmus could put Martinez at first base and shift Miguel Cabrera to his old spot at third, a move Ausmus made in two starting lineups this week and did again for the ninth inning Saturday after Martinez entered as a pinch-hitter. Doing that, however, costs the Tigers another effective bat in rookie third baseman Nick Castellanos.

It's not an easy decision.

"Victor, he's going to play," Ausmus said. "I want to wait and see to decide [where]."

Another strong outing from Scherzer could render the decision moot. Though he is winless through two starts this year, he has 15 innings of two-run ball to his credit, striking out 15 batters against just two walks. The Tigers scored just two runs in each of those starts, and both games were decided in the final at-bats.

With the Padres' offense just beginning to come out of its early-season struggles, Scherzer has an opportunity to keep on his current roll. Another no-decision, though, could further reinforce the notion that Scherzer could pitch better than he did in his Cy Young season last year and not get nearly the same results. Tyson Ross will get the start for San Diego.

Tigers: Cabrera feels more comfortable at plate
Cabrera spent most of his pregame batting practice Saturday focusing on taking the ball to the opposite field, trying to break out of a recent funk that seemingly had him trying to pull everything. He ended up with much better approaches Saturday, flying out to the warning track in right-center in the opening inning before doubling in Detroit's go-ahead run in the third.

"It was better," Cabrera said. "I want to use the whole field. I just had to make some adjustments to get a good at-bat."

Padres: Headley heating up
What had been a slow start to the season for Chase Headley has quickly improved thanks to a series of quality at-bats against Detroit's outstanding rotation. After going hitless for 10 consecutive at-bats, Headley has gone 5-for-10 with a home run and two doubles. He produced two hits off Justin Verlander on Saturday night, one a broken-bat roller to third base, the other a double down the right-field line leading off the fourth before he scored on a Yasmani Grandal single.

Worth noting
• Chris Denorfia's two stolen bases Saturday extended his success streak to 14 dating back to the start of last season. He is one of just two Major Leaugers with a perfect success rate in that stretch over at least 10 attempts; Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich is 13-for-13 over that time.

• Right fielder Torii Hunter returned to the Tigers' lineup on Saturday in right field after missing the previous two games with a bruised left knee.

• Jedd Gyorko is the sixth second baseman in Padres history to drive in at least six runs through the team's first 11 games, joining Mark Loretta (2004), Damian Jackson (2001), Jody Reed (1996), Tim Teufel (1993) and Roberto Alomar (1990). Comments