DETROIT -- On the day Major League Baseball players use pink equipment as part of it's Mothers Day mission to promote breast cancer awareness, Tigers manager Jim Leyland retold one of his favorite stories about his late mom, who tried to pick up his spirits during one of his seasons managing in the Tigers farm system.
"One year I was with the Tigers, hoping to come up here as a coach," Leyland said. "Sparky [Anderson] had his guys. I said, 'Well, mom, I'm not going to the big leagues again this year. They have [Alex] Grammas coaching third and [Dick] Tracewski coaching first. And she said, 'Well, don't they need a second-base coach?'"
Like teams across the Majors, the Tigers used Sunday's game to honor moms and promote breast cancer awareness with pink equipment. Torii Hunter, Victor Martinez and Don Kelly used pink bats, and everyone had some sort of pink gear on during the Tigers' 4-3 extra-inning loss to the Indians.
Brayan Pena's bat had a pink handle. With his first three-hit game as a Tiger, including a two-run home run in the second inning, it was a nice way to honor his mom, who moved to the United States from Cuba a few years ago.
His regular bat was too heavy, he said, to get an entirely pink version, so he had to improvise.
"Moms know when you don't have the opportunity to play every day, you're trying to feel comfortable out there," he said. "Today, it didn't matter what the outcome was. Today is about Mothers Day, and everybody knows that. I'm blessed and I thank God to have the opportunity to have my wife and my mom and my grandma by my side."
Hunter's wife lost her grandmother to breast cancer. If it promotes awareness, Hunter is all for pink.
"This is baseball. This is entertainment. This is The Show," said Hunter, who singled twice with his pink bat. "Just for one day, just for the cause, why not?"
Jackson gets day off to rest sore hamstring
DETROIT -- The Tigers aren't hamstrung with Austin Jackson just yet, but he's enough of a concern that manager Jim Leyland wants to keep him from becoming an injury loss.
Jackson still has soreness in his right hamstring, which has bothered him for a week. He could have played Sunday's series finale against the Indians, but Leyland wanted to give him a day off as a preventative measure so that he doesn't get to the point that he can't play.
"He can go," Leyland said, "but it's hard for him to really burn into that extra gear. So I'm just giving him a day off for precautionary reasons."
Don Kelly started in center with Jackson out, and went 1-for-3 with a walk in the 4-3 extra-inning loss to the Indians. Andy Dirks moved up to the leadoff spot, as he did when Jackson sat for a game last weekend in Houston, and was 1-for-4 with a walk.
Alburquerque no longer a two-inning reliever
DETROIT -- The days of Al Alburquerque as a two-inning reliever in the Tigers bullpen appear to be over. As hard as Tigers manager Jim Leyland is trying to sort out roles in his relief corps, he has no plans to stretch out Alburquerque again.
The high-strikeout right-hander with the nasty slider looked like he was poised to cover multiple innings with regularity for a stretch in late April, getting at least five outs in three consecutive appearances from April 17 to April 24. That included two perfect innings and five strikeouts against the Angels, arguably the best outing of his Tiger tenure.
Alburquerque has yet to post a perfect inning since. He has allowed two runs over five innings with nine strikeouts since, but it's the baserunner total -- eight walks and seven hits allowed -- that has been the concern.
The Indians scored what turned out to be a critical insurance run off Alburquerque in the eighth inning on Saturday after he finished the seventh. He began the eighth with a four-pitch walk to Jason Kipnis, who eventually scored on a Jason Giambi sacrifice fly.