KANSAS CITY -- Tigers manager Brad Ausmus has said it at least four times this week: He has never seen a hitter take a consistent focus to every pitch at the plate like Victor Martinez, never giving away a pitch.
On Friday, after Martinez's latest effort -- a pair of doubles and two RBIs -- led the Tigers to an 8-2 win over James Shields and the Royals, Ausmus said it again. Martinez, meanwhile, said it's nothing different from what he has done his whole time here.
It's not only consistent this year, but over the years.
"I'm not going to lie, [the praise] makes me feel good," Martinez said. "But at the same time, I think I've been like that my whole career. I don't think anything's going to change. It's good to hear, but on the other hand, I just make sure that when I go out there, I'm just trying to be a tough out, put a good at-bat in, see what happens. I always try to go out there and battle."
Martinez entered Satuday just outside the American League's top 10 in hitting with a .315 average to go with an .859 OPS. He leads the Tigers in OPS, while only Rajai Davis had a higher average entering Saturday.
"One thing that I can tell you," Martinez said, "is that I've always been a guy that works my butt off in the offseason to play every day. I always say when you work hard, I think you deserve to do something good on the field. I always expect a lot. I don't know what it is, but you know what, I feel great, my body feels great. I don't know if I really feel 35, but my body feels great."
Putkonen feels fine following bullpen session
KANSAS CITY -- Luke Putkonen is eligible to be activated from the 15-day disabled list on Sunday. He won't be ready to play, but it appears he won't be far off.
Putkonen threw a side session in the Kauffman Stadium visiting bullpen on Friday before the Tigers-Royals series opener, and he's scheduled to throw a more intensive bullpen session on Sunday. If he comes through that without discomfort in his right elbow, Putkonen should be on track for a quick rehab assignment or a simulated game. Team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said the Tigers haven't discussed that next step.
Putkonen estimated he threw about 35 pitches in Friday's session.
"I felt good," he said. "I spun a few curveballs at the end."
Putkonen's return will give the Tigers their long reliever back, filling a role they haven't needed much this season, but they figure to use more often over the next several weeks. While Detroit has had Drew Smyly available in the bullpen for a few different stretches in the opening month, he won't be a relief option during their stretch of 50 games in 52 days.
Anibal throwing with cover over cut finger
KANSAS CITY -- Anibal Sanchez continues to keep his arm fresh while he sits on the 15-day disabled list with lacerated right middle finger, playing catch and stretching out his arm. His return, however, is going to hinge on how quickly his body can rebuild the skin where a blister tore open during his start a week ago.
"I think it looks a lot better really," manager Brad Ausmus said. "It's just a matter of the skin growing back over the top."
Until that happens, Sanchez is throwing with a covering where the blister used to be. That enables him to play catch and throw, but not with any intensity.
Sanchez has about a week left before he's eligible to be activated from the DL, but it wouldn't be a surprise if the Tigers kept him on the DL for longer than that. The way the rotation works out, they'll need to replace him for at least two starts May 6 and 11, the latter coming the day before Sanchez can be activated.
With an off-day coming up during the following turn through the rotation, the Tigers could conceivably skip his spot if need be. If they don't, Sanchez's spot still wouldn't come up until May 17 at Boston.
The Tigers have announced Robbie Ray will start in Sanchez's place on Tuesday, but haven't committed to him yet for the other start. If he pitches well in that game, of course, Ausmus said they'd probably go back to Ray for the next turn five days later.
Sanchez, meanwhile, will keep healing.
"He'll have to rebuild the callus slowly," Ausmus said, "but I don't know that he'll necessarily have to have it to pitch."
• The Tigers now have a second Sunday night game against the Red Sox coming up. In addition to the previously scheduled national broadcast on May 18 at Fenway Park, the two teams will end their other series at Comerica Park with an 8:07 p.m. ET game on June 8. The Tigers begin a road trip the next day, but they'll have a short trip to Chicago for an 8:10 p.m. ET game that Monday night.
• Last week's Tigers-Twins rainout at Target Field will be made up as part of a day-night doubleheader on Saturday, Aug. 23, during the Tigers' next trip to Minnesota. The first game will begin at 1:10 p.m. ET, with the nightcap at 8:10. Tickets for the rained-out game from April 27 will be good for the day game.