For the first time as a visiting player, second baseman Ian Kinsler will return to the ballpark where he spent his first eight big league seasons, as the Tigers and Rangers begin a three-game set Tuesday.
Kinsler, who is batting .294 this season for Detroit, played his former team last month. But this week's series will mark his first trip back to Arlington since commenting this offseason in an ESPN The Magazine story that he hopes Texas "goes 0-162." The three-time American League All-Star has since clarified that his remarks were made in jest. However, he's unsure of what type of reception he'll be given by Rangers fans.
Texas has lost five in a row.
"Yeah, we'll see what happens," Kinsler said. "I think that ESPN article blew some things out of proportion. If people actually read the article, I never said anything bad about the fans or my teammates or my coaching staff. It was all directed toward the front office.
"If people want to boo me for saying something bad about the front office, that's their prerogative," he added. "I guess we'll see."
The trip also will be a homecoming in the literal sense for Kinsler, whose wife and kids still reside in the Dallas area.
Prince Fielder, who moved from the Tigers to the Rangers in the Kinsler deal, will once again miss playing his former team. In the time since he skipped the Detroit trip due to a herniated neck disc, Fielder has been declared out for the season.
Tigers lefty Drew Smyly, who will pitch on Tuesday, is on a streak of three consecutive quality starts. In June, he holds a 1.89 ERA.
"I'm not trying to overpower anybody, so it's not like I'm going to blow anybody away," Smyly said. "I'm trying to fill the strike zone up, just pump strikes, mix speeds. That's all I can do. If you mix speeds well and get hitters off-balance and throw strikes doing it, you're going to have pretty good results."
Opposing Smyly will be Colby Lewis, who has a 6.02 ERA in seven career starts (eight appearances) against Detroit. The right-hander is coming off a start in which he earned his first win since May 25, though he allowed five runs over 5 1/3 innings in a 14-8 win over the A's.
Lewis (5-4, 5.97 ERA) will be pitching on seven days' rest, because Texas was off Monday and last Thursday. He's been up and down in 2014 after not pitching in the Major Leagues last season -- he had seven rehab starts -- because of surgery to resurface his degenerative hip.
The alternative was a hip replacement.
"I think he's making progress," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of Lewis' comeback bid. "He's doing something that's never been done before. At times, you see flashes of what he's done. Other times, it's a struggle for him."
Lewis has yet to pitch more than six innings in a game this season, though he's gone five frames in 11 of 12 starts.
"We'd like him to get past five innings," Washington said. "We'd like everybody to get past five innings."
Tigers: McCoy gives club another option out of 'pen
Few players have climbed the Minor League ranks as quickly as Patrick McCoy climbed Detroit's this season.
McCoy had barely pitched above Double-A ball entering this season, but now he finds himself on the Tigers' active roster.
"That's everybody's goal when they sign with a new organization, to make it to the big leagues," said the former Minor League free agent McCoy. "I didn't think it was going to happen this fast. Signing with Detroit, I was blessed. I was going to sign with a couple other teams, but me and my agent, we talked a lot, and Detroit was a good fit."
McCoy is a 25-year-old sinkerballer who mixes in a changeup that can produce swings and misses. He threw a scoreless inning of relief in his Major League debut on Sunday.
Rangers: Rowen quickly getting work after recall
Since being recalled from Triple-A Round Rock on June 11, reliever Ben Rowen has been kept busy by Washington.
Rowen appeared in three games in a span of five days and threw a combined 5 1/3 shutout innings. He has struck out four batters and walked none.
"I didn't know we were going to get that much out of him," Washington said.
Rowen had the chance to make the big league club coming out of Spring Training, but right biceps tendinitis put that on hold for a while. Now that he's arrived, the submariner is pitching as if he'd like to stick around.
• Detroit outfielder Torii Hunter said Sunday that he'll be in the lineup for Tuesday's series opener. The 38-year-old has been sidelined since he injured his hamstring on June 16 against the Royals. Manager Brad Ausmus was optimistic, if not definitive, about Hunter's chances of returning.
"We'll see," Ausmus said. "It was good that we could get him another day off [Sunday]. I'm really hoping Tuesday he'll be good, but we'll wait and see before making a decision."
• Adrian Beltre needs one more base hit to become only the sixth third baseman with 2,500 career hits since 1900.
Matt Slovin is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.