LOS ANGELES -- Long before Brad Ausmus was a managerial candidate in Detroit or anywhere, and before his retirement as a player, he was a manager at Dodger Stadium. He was a reigning veteran on the Dodgers roster, and then-manager Joe Torre had a tradition of letting players manage the final game of the regular season if it didn't mean anything. Thus, in Ausmus' two seasons as a Dodger in 2009 and '10, he managed two games.
"One year we had already clinched a playoff spot," Ausmus said, "and then the following year we were completely out of it."
He'll leave Dodger Stadium on Wednesday night having managed two more games here. These ones, however, have his name on them, and they could play a big role in determining whether the Tigers can carry their Opening Week momentum deeper into the month.
Activated off the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday, Josh Beckett, who came through his Sunday side session without any issues in his sore ankle, will make his 2014 debut against a familiar opponent.
Beckett and Anibal Sanchez were traded for each other between the Red Sox and Marlins nine years ago, a megadeal that included current Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez. Sanchez and Beckett have never faced each other, though they faced their former teams over the years.
This will be their chance, and they'll do so in a matchup that could prove to be a World Series preview.
Sanchez has pitched stingier against the National League in Interleague Play since joining the Tigers than he did as a Marlin, allowing eight earned runs on 27 hits over 32 innings in five Interleague starts last season. He walked just four batters while striking out 43. He's winless in four career meetings with the Dodgers.
Tigers: Hunter questionable with bruised left knee
Torii Hunter is expected to be a game-time decision for the Tigers, after suffering a left knee contusion while sliding into the low wall down the right-field line in pursuit of a foul ball Tuesday night. Ausmus sounded inclined to rest Hunter unless he reports serious improvement, noting the extra off-day Thursday could give him two days to heal up for Friday's series opener in San Diego.
"My inclination is to give him [Wednesday] off because of the off-day, unless he came in and said that he felt great, that there's no pain at all," Ausmus said.
That appears unlikely, given the swelling in Hunter's knee, but he isn't ruling it out.
"My knee swelled up on me," Hunter said. "They actually got some of the swelling down. [Wednesday] I'll come into the clubhouse and if it feels good, I think I'm going to play. But I'm going to play it safe."
If Hunter can't play, either rookie Tyler Collins or veteran utility man Don Kelly will get the start in right.
Dodgers: Puig still sidelined by thumb injury
Yasiel Puig was not in the lineup for the second game in a row Tuesday night because of a left thumb injury, but manager Don Mattingly said the outfielder "is still kind of day to day" and might be available in some capacity if he can't start.
Mattingly said Puig, who also missed Sunday's game against San Francisco, was going to be fitted with a splint so he could do baseball activities.
"He's going to hit inside, and he can throw," the manager said.
• Austin Jackson's second-inning home run Tuesday extended the Tigers' home-run streak to six straight games, their third such streak to open a season since 1914. They had similar streaks in 1958 and 2004.
• Ausmus left open the possibility of a second consecutive start for Andrew Romine, who has been platooning with Alex Gonzalez at shortstop and had a solid game on defense in Tuesday's opener. If Romine starts, he'll have done so in four of Detroit's first seven games.
• Carl Crawford's game-winning double in the 10th inning Tuesday night was his 10th career walk-off hit and his first since May 19, 2011, a bases-loaded single that also beat the Tigers. Crawford was with the Rays at the time.