On Thursday morning, Indians traveling secretary Mike Seghi handed Ryan Raburn his per diem for the team's upcoming road trip. The journey begins Friday with a three-game set in Detroit, Raburn's former home.
One player asked Raburn if he would even be eating with his current teammates. Raburn joked that he planned to ditch them to have dinner with Tigers ace Justin Verlander.
The Tigers selected Raburn in the fifth round of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft. He debuted with the club in 2004, and played for them until they released him last November following a season in which he batted just .171.
"I'm pretty excited," Raburn said about facing his former club. "I'll be anxious to see some of those guys I haven't seen in a while. It's going to be fun. I'm a little nervous, but excited to be on the other side for once."
Tigers manager Jim Leyland shares in the excitement, he says.
"I'll be happy as hell to see him," Leyland said. "I like him a lot. He's a good kid, a talented kid. He had nagging injuries from time to time. He just got in a funk and didn't get out of it last year."
Raburn hasn't taken long to get acclimated to his new team. In 21 games with Cleveland, the 32-year-old is batting .329 with four homers and 11 RBIs. He said he isn't sure what reaction to expect from fans at Comerica Park this weekend, after having been booed there when his performance declined last season.
After their Thursday victory, the Indians have won 10 of their last 11 games to close within one game of first-place Detroit in the American League Central after the Tigers were swept in their two-game series against the Nationals.
"There's no extra motivation. I'm motivated every day to try to win," Raburn said. "I've developed some great relationships over there, but that doesn't mean I don't want to beat them when we go play them. It'll be fun, and hopefully we win a few ballgames."
Friday's series opener will pit Cleveland's Corey Kluber against Detroit's Max Scherzer.
Indians: Kluber eyeing third win
Kluber was tagged with the Tribe's only loss in the last 11 games, though it wasn't for a lack of effort. He held Minnesota to three runs in 5 2/3 innings on Sunday, but Cleveland's bats went silent as the Indians lost, 4-2. In four outings this season, Kluber has compiled a 2-1 record and 3.06 ERA.
• The Indians activated Michael Bourn following Thursday's game and optioned left-hander Scott Barnes to Triple-A Columbus to clear a spot on the roster.
Tigers: Scherzer seeking another strong start
Scherzer has yet to lose a game this season, and lately, the right-hander has made it look easy. Scherzer limited the Astros to one run on three hits over eight innings on Saturday during Detroit's 17-2 rout.
"He was very good, obviously," Leyland said. "But I've seen him as good or better than that. Sometimes it's a little different when you have that much of a lead to work with. You're not really maxing out like you do when you get in jams in a close game. He pitched very well and gave us some much-needed innings."
In 11 career starts against the Indians, Scherzer has posted a 5-4 record and 5.26 ERA.
• The Indians claimed 10 of their 18 meetings with the Tigers last season, despite being outscored, 83-68.
• After winning four straight, the Tigers now have dropped two games in a row. Overall, though, Detroit has won nine of its last 12.
• Cleveland's 102-83 mark in one-run games since 2009 ranks fourth best in the Majors.