DETROIT -- On the whole, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said, baseball's replay system has worked out well. That said, he has some issues he'd like to see worked out. The transfer rule regarding fielders switching the ball from their glove to their throwing hand would be foremost among them.
Three weeks in, the new interpretation is already having an effect on how Ausmus and his team look at replays to decide what to challenge.
"The one thing we've learned is the whole transfer thing is probably not going to play out the way most people had expected," Ausmus said Saturday morning. "So we'll be a little more judicious in deciding whether to challenge a ball that's dropped."
Major League managers reportedly received a memo from the Commissioner's Office on Friday that tried to clarify, among other things, the transfer.
"Umpires and/or replay officials must consider whether the fielder had secured possession of the ball but dropped it during the act of the catch," the statement reportedly read. "An example of a catch that would not count is if a fielder loses possession of the ball during the transfer before the ball was secured by his throwing hand."
Ausmus has been looking for more clarity on it. He met with Joe Torre, now MLB's executive vice president of baseball operations, earlier this month.
"I guess what they're saying is that the ball has to be secured in the hand," Ausmus said. "But to me, it's gone way too far. There has to be a period of time when the ball's in your glove that it's considered control. … If he's got the ball in the hand and is turning the glove, he's got control of it, or it would've fallen out right there. There just has got to be a period of time when it's in the glove that it's no longer considered a dropped ball."
The Tigers were among the first teams to find out about this rule on Opening Week. Shortstop Andrew Romine took a throw at second base before fumbling the ball trying to ready a throw to first. Romine was not given the out at second base, a ruling that held up on replay.
Ausmus said he had a sense that the transfer rule would be a point of emphasis going in, but not necessarily interpreted the way it has been.
"They did definitely talk about it," Ausmus said, "but I don't know if the explanation we got ahead of time has held any water."
Davis back at leadoff with slew of lefties on deck
DETROIT -- Rajai Davis' tenure hitting leadoff in Detroit appeared to be on hiatus when the Tigers returned home and regained the designated hitter spot. A few days later, it's back on.
"I've kind of had that in mind against lefties, to have Rajai and Ian [Kinsler] at the top," manager Brad Ausmus said of batting Davis atop the order against Angels left-hander C.J. Wilson on Saturday.
With five left-handed starters awaiting the Tigers in a six-day stretch, it could be a trend.
The purpose is two-fold. First, hitting left-handed pitching was a primary purpose for bringing in Davis back in December, along with his speed. He has become more of an everyday left fielder with Andy Dirks out until June and Tyler Collins now back at Triple-A Toledo, and he's 12-for-39 against righties, but his strength remains hitting lefties.
Second, by batting Davis leadoff and moving Kinsler to the second spot, Ausmus frees up Torii Hunter to bat fifth. That's a thought Ausmus has had since Spring Training, stretching out the middle of the order while still keeping two table-setters at the top.
"In Spring Training, I had actually talked to Torii about hitting fifth against left-handed pitchers," Ausmus said.
Former Tiger Boesch making most of new start
DETROIT -- Brennan Boesch still has the Yukon Denali hybrid he bought in Spring Training of 2012, when he was still a Tiger. He also still has the Ford Bronco he has owned for a dozen years. He used to drive those to Comerica Park. This weekend, his ride to the ballpark is the Angels' team bus.
He's a visiting player now, but his return to the big leagues with the Angels landed him back in a familiar spot to start out. He made his Angels debut as a late-inning substitute in Friday's series opener before getting the start in right field on Saturday.
"It's just funny how life works," Boesch said.
When the Angels return home, so will Boesch, close to his family home in Santa Barbara, Calif. Still, he said that wasn't a factor for him signing with the Angels. A chance to play was more important.
"I just wanted to land somewhere that I felt like presented a decent opportunity to earn a real opportunity to get back," he said. "I landed, in my opinion, a great spot for me. Here we go."
His journey since his Tigers days has taken him from one coast to the other. His early season stint with the Yankees last year, after the Tigers released him midway through, Spring Training, lasted just 23 games in April and May before he was sent down and eventually released. He spent the second half of the season back home rehabbing a shoulder injury that he says had been bothering him for years.
"You just don't want to go under the knife if you can avoid it. It feels great," he said. "It was something that kind of nagged me for a lot of years and just went from bad to worse."
Boesch signed with the Angels as a free agent near the end of January. He opened the season at Triple-A Salt Lake, going 12-for-48 (.250) with two triples, two home runs and nine RBIs, before Kole Calhoun's injury led the Angels to call him up.