Notes: Stairs already feeling at home

Notes: Stairs already feeling at home

DETROIT -- Matt Stairs arrived at Comerica Park on Saturday to find three beer cans and a fluorescent green softball sitting in his locker. The beer-league softball joke, courtesy of new teammate Brandon Inge, wasn't lost on him.

"I can't wait until I'm retired so I can start doing that," he said.

If the Tigers are uptight in the midst of a pennant race, he hasn't seen it. And he has already seen plenty of the Tigers this season from across the dugout. Before he made two trips to Detroit in a four-week span with the Rangers, he was visiting the Motor City as a member of the Royals. He has more at-bats at Comerica Park this year than any other stadium except for his former home parks in Kansas City and Texas.

"I knew it was a loose bunch of guys," he said. "When you play against a team so much over the last four years, you ask clubhouse guys on the other side what the clubhouse is like. They enjoy the game. And you try to take ideas from other teams that you can use in your locker room. So I knew [there was] a lot of leadership, a nice loose team, a fun team, and a team that wants to play the game right and enjoy the game. That's what I've heard, and that's what I've seen so far in the 24 hours I've been here."

Considering the way he hit in Detroit this year, it already felt like home. Even before his walk and run scored in his Tigers debut Friday night, he was 9-for-29 at Comerica Park this season with a home run, four RBIs and five walks.

He figured he would've been here earlier. Instead of being dealt to Detroit, however, the Tigers went after Sean Casey. Stairs, in turn, was dealt to Texas. When he knew the Rangers planned to put him on waivers, he hoped to get another chance to come here.

It comes too late to be eligible for the postseason, but it comes with still enough time to help them get there.

"If it takes getting one hit to win a ballgame here and get them to the next level, it worked out well," he said. "Trust me, if these guys go to the playoffs, I'll be extremely happy watching it. It's just fun to be back in those games when they mean something again."

Being in Detroit, in fact, reminds him of his first playoff chase. That goes back to the 1995 Red Sox, 11 years and seven teams ago. Now at age 38, he still remembers vividly getting to the American League Division Series, only to be overwhelmed by the Indians.

"It was fun back then, the intensity of getting there," he said. "A lot of things when you come down to the last 15 games and you're fighting for a playoff [spot]. When you get to the playoffs, it's almost like you've been there with the pressure for the last 15 games. It's one of those things where you go out every day knowing it's a win-win situation and it carries over."

At this point, it looks like he'll have his fair chance at playing time over the final two weeks. He made his first start for the Tigers on Saturday night against O's right-hander Kris Benson, contributing his first Tigers hit with a double. He's 4-for-11 off Sunday starter Daniel Cabrera, likely earning him another start. Manager Jim Leyland said he'll likely also start Tuesday against White Sox righty Freddy Garcia.

Tigers give back: The Tigers were presented Saturday with a $5,000 grant from Major League Baseball's Baseball Tomorrow Fund to benefit Think Detroit and the Police Athletic League. In turn, the Tigers presented the PAL with money and equipment raised through the Tigers' Gloves for Kids program this summer. The equipment donated is enough to benefit several youth teams.

The Baseball Tomorrow Fund is a joint initiative between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association to promote the growth of youth baseball and softball programs worldwide by funding leagues, helping establish fields, training coaches, and purchasing uniforms and equipment. The BTF awards an average of 30 grants each year totaling more than $1.5 million. BTF grant coordinator Jennifer Cartabona was on hand at Comerica Park to take part in the pregame presentation. Tigers players on hand included Craig Monroe, Vance Wilson, Jamie Walker, Marcus Thames, Joel Zumaya, Fernando Rodney and Roman Colon.

Injury updates: Zumaya was available to pitch Saturday after experiencing progress in his right forearm. He had been sidelined since Tuesday with forearm tendonitis, requiring a cortisone shot.

Placido Polanco reported soreness after taking part in batting practice Friday, but it's not believed to be anything out of the ordinary. The Tigers still hope he can return sometime next week.

"Polly will do what's best for the team," Leyland said. "We have a good rapport. He'll be honest and I'll be honest. If he doesn't think he can help the team, he won't play."

Coming up: The Tigers finish up their week-long homestand with a 1:05 p.m. ET getaway game against the Orioles on Sunday at Comerica Park. Wilfredo Ledezma (2-3, 3.13) will start on eight days' rest against Daniel Cabrera (7-10, 4.84).

Jason Beck is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.