CHICAGO -- There's a new active iron man in the Major Leagues.
With Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp going on the disabled list Monday with a strained left hamstring, Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder is now MLB's active leader in consecutive games played. Fielder entered Tuesday's game against the White Sox having played in 216 straight games.
Fielder, listed at 5-foot-11 and 275 pounds, wouldn't be the first player to pop into many fans' minds when thinking about iron men. But he has been quite durable throughout his eight-year career.
Fielder has missed only one game since Sept. 3, 2008, a Sept. 13, 2010, matchup against the Astros in which he was sick with a stomach virus. That off-day snapped Fielder's 326-game streak, which at the time was the longest in the Majors.
Now Fielder is back atop that list. Entering action Tuesday, Cincinnati's Joey Votto (161), Boston's Dustin Pedroia (135) and Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki (135) were next in line.
Decision to pull Smyly one that didn't work
CHICAGO -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland doesn't have a problem with anyone second-guessing his decision to remove starter Drew Smyly after five innings in the Tigers' eventual 7-5 loss to the White Sox on Monday.
With Detroit ahead, 5-4, Leyland took out the left-hander after he had thrown only 69 pitches, two of which were hit into the stands for two-run home runs. Right-hander Luke Putkonen came in from the bullpen and allowed three runs on four hits and a walk as the White Sox took the lead.
After the game, Leyland said he didn't like the way Smyly was leaving pitches up in the zone. Of the 15 outs Smyly recorded, nine were through the air, and Leyland felt the left-hander was flirting with danger.
But the skipper understands why others might disagree, especially with how the game ended.
"Taking Smyly out is a legitimate second-guess, I have no problem with that whatsoever," Leyland said Tuesday morning. "I just felt like what I was seeing, with some big right-handers coming up, they hadn't seen Putkonen and if I can get him to hold it for an inning or two, we get to [setup man Joaquin] Benoit and [we're good]. [Smyly] was OK, but he had given up in four runs in five innings."
Smyly and catcher Gerald Laird each said they were surprised the left-hander was taken out so early, but said they respected Leyland's decision. Laird also alluded to Leyland's point about Smyly leaving pitches up.
"He was moving the ball in and out, he was getting away with some pitches," Laird said. "From what he had tonight, it wasn't his best stuff, but I thought he was throwing the ball pretty well."
Smyly said he only regretted two pitches.
"I thought I was making pretty good pitches, I was jamming them a bunch, I don't know why they were popping them all up," Smyly said. "But I take back two pitches, those two home runs."
Leyland respects resurgence of Dunn, Peavy
CHICAGO -- The Tigers, and rest of the American League, didn't see the real Adam Dunn last year, but it appears the White Sox designated hitter is back to his old power-hitting self.
Dunn, who hit a two-run home run Monday, has left the yard three times in seven games against the Tigers entering Tuesday's game at U.S. Cellular Field. Monday's homer was Dunn's 12th of the season, already surpassing his 2011 total.
Dunn's resurgence might be surprising to some, but certainly not to Tigers manager Jim Leyland.
"There's people in this game who for a long time, including me, that felt like he has been the best power hitter in the game. I don't know exactly what the numbers say, but this guy's been a big-time power hitter and in this ballpark, you knew he was going to hit home runs," Leyland said. "Last year, I don't know. But this shouldn't shock anybody, I don't think, that he's hitting home runs. He's always hit home runs."
Dunn isn't Chicago's only bounce-back player who could put a damper on the Tigers' quest to repeat as division champions. Right-hander Jake Peavy, Tuesday's starter, entered 4-1 with a 1.89 ERA and is looking like the pitcher who was among the National League's best a few years ago.
"There's not much secret to it. He's going to pound it, use his slider in fastball counts," Leyland said. "He's a very smart guy and he's a real competitive guy."
Andy Dirks, who has been battling a hamstring issue, was slated as the designated hitter Tuesday but is fine, Leyland said. The manager said he wanted to give Delmon Young the day off and put Don Kelly in the field because of his versatility.
Tuesday starter Max Scherzer entered the day working six or more innings in 10 straight outings against the White Sox, including nine quality starts.