COMSTOCK PARK, MI - The Detroit Tigers are trying to get healthy as they continue their push for a second consecutive American League pennant.
The West Michigan Whitecaps are doing their part to help during a three-game homestand at Fifth Third Ballpark this week.
The Whitecaps announced on Tuesday that second baseman Omar Infante and left-handed reliever Darin Downs will both make appearances at Fifth Third Ballpark over the next two days. West Michigan is scheduled to take on Fort Wayne on Wednesday and Thursday night. Each game will feature a 7:00 p.m. first pitch, while gates will open early at 4:00 p.m. to accommodate fans interested in watching home batting practice.
Infante, 31, is scheduled to be the Whitecaps' designated hitter on Wednesday night and, if all goes well, will play second base for the 'Caps on Thursday. The 12-year Major League veteran has been out of action since July 3, when he suffered a sprained left ankle while trying to turn a double play after a hard slide at second base by Toronto's Colby Rasmus. He was officially placed on the disabled list on July 9.
Prior to the injury, Infante was batting .309 in 76 games and had committed just four errors as Detroit's everyday second baseman. During his 1,167-game Major League career for the Tigers, Braves and Marlins, Infante has a career batting average of .277 with 70 home runs, 397 RBI and 488 runs scored. His Minor League resume includes a brief stop with the Whitecaps as an 18-year-old shortstop in 2000, when he hit .229 in 12 games at the end of the season.
Originally drafted by the Tigers in 1999, Infante has been traded four times in his career - including a five-player deal with the Marlins that brought Infante back to Detroit along with Anibal Sanchez last summer. His career accomplishments include a National League All-Star selection with the Braves in 2010 and a pair of American League pennants with the Tigers in 2006 and 2012.
Downs, 28, is scheduled to throw one inning for the Whitecaps on Thursday. He has been on the disabled list since July 7 with rotator cuff tendonitis in his left shoulder. Prior to the injury, the southpaw was 0-2 with a 5.18 ERA over 26 relief appearances. He struck out 37 batters with just 10 walks over 33 innings.
A former fifth-round pick by the Chicago Cubs in 2003, Downs was signed by the Tigers as a free agent in November of 2011. He made his Major League debut with Detroit in 2012, going 2-1 with a 3.48 ERA in 18 relief appearances. In his brief Major League career, Downs is 2-3 with a 4.53 ERA in 44 relief appearances, striking out 57 over 53.2 innings of work.
The Whitecaps open a brief three-game homestand at Fifth Third Ballpark with a 7:00 p.m. first pitch on Wednesday night against the Fort Wayne TinCaps. RHP Edgar De La Rosa (5-3, 6.69) is scheduled to pitch for West Michigan against RHP Zach Eflin (4-5, 3.17) of the TinCaps. The game will feature a fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House and post-game fireworks presented by Family Fare. Group and individual tickets can be reserved by calling the Whitecaps front office at 616-784-4131 or visiting www.whitecapsbaseball.com.