DETROIT -- If you took a poll for which Tigers player would be the one to make one of the best web gems of the season, Victor Martinez would probably be near the bottom of the list.
Earning only his fourth start at first base on Sunday, Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury drilled a hard ground ball down the first-base line. Martinez dove to his left and knocked the ball a few feet into foul territory. He then ran after the ball, reached back and made a no-look toss behind his back to Drew Smyly, who was covering first base, to retire the speedy Ellsbury.
"It was sweet, it was a sick play," Smyly said. "It was all him. I was just standing there at first base. I didn't know if he saw it or not, because he knocked it down and it was right there, so I was just yelling at him, 'I'm here, I'm here,' and he flipped it back. It was a cool play."
Said Martinez: "When I went to get the ball, I knew where the base was."
Manager Jim Leyland says being a former catcher gives Martinez quick hands, and then his instincts kicked in.
"That was just a reaction play, that's what that was," Leyland said. "Like the [Mark] Buehrle play [on Opening Day in 2010]. Kind of like a behind-the-back pass in basketball or a between-the-legs pass or something."
Six-error night most by Tigers in 31 years
DETROIT -- The key to a good game is a strong offense, pitching and defense. However, it seemed like the Tigers forgot the last part, committing six errors in a 14-8 loss to the Angels on Tuesday.
Detroit's six errors were its most since Sept. 11, 1982, against the Red Sox in a 13-3 loss, and the most in the Major Leagues since the Pirates committed seven errors against the Cubs Sept. 7, 2012.
The Tigers entered Tuesday's game against the Angels with the fourth-best fielding percentage in the Major Leagues, with 29 errors in 2,751 chances.
Detroit committed two errors in the Halos' eight-run fifth inning -- a throwing error by Torii Hunter that skipped past catcher Bryan Holaday at the plate, and an errant pickoff throw by Evan Reed that allowed a run to score.
In the sixth, Reed missed first base covering after Prince Fielder flipped the ball to him on a grounder. The next inning, Holaday made an errant throw to center field trying to toss out Erick Aybar, who was stealing second base.
Miguel Cabrera made two throwing errors on ground balls in the eighth inning to raise the total to six.
Tigers agree with draftees Thompson, Green
DETROIT -- The University of Louisville had one of its best seasons ever, resulting in a school-record 51 wins and a visit to the College World Series. The Tigers agreed to terms with two of its top pitchers -- right-handers Jeffrey Thompson and Chad Green -- on Tuesday.
The Tigers selected Thompson in the third round of the First-Year Player Draft and he signed at slot value ($549,400). Thompson was named the Big East Pitcher of the Year with an 11-2 record, 2.19 ERA and 113 strikeouts in 107 innings.
"The numbers he put up this year -- and they had a good club, Louisville -- but the numbers he put up were phenomenal," Tigers vice president of amateur scouting David Chadd said. "That's kind of what helped us make that decision [to select him]."
Green was picked in the 11th round and had a 10-4 record with a 2.42 ERA and 74 strikeouts in 104 1/3 innings.
The Tigers have now signed their top nine Draft picks and have agreed to terms with 27 of their 41 selections.
Avila off to slow start in rehab assignment
DETROIT -- Although Tigers catcher Alex Avila said he felt as good as new before he started his rehab assignment at Triple-A Toledo, he has struggled at the plate in his first few games back.
In two games as a designated hitter, Avila is 0-for-8 with a walk and two strikeouts.
Avila was placed on the 15-day disabled list after being hit by a pitch on his left forearm against the Twins on June 17. The earliest he can return is July 2, and he expects to return on that date.
However, manager Jim Leyland says Avila needs to get his swing going during his assignment. Avila has been stuck in a season-long slump at the plate, batting .172 with five home runs and 13 RBIs in 48 games.
Catcher Bryan Holaday was 2-for-7 in his absence with two runs scored entering play Tuesday. He started Tuesday against the Angels, batting ninth.
Leyland honors former Minors teammate Young
DETROIT -- Manager Jim Leyland spent his off-day on Monday honoring his former Minor League teammate John Young at the Ora Alliance Ovation Dinner.
Young became the first black scouting director when the Tigers named him to that position in 1981 and he founded the RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) program in '89. In 2009, he became a dialysis patient and considers maintaining his normal lifestyle while on dialysis his greatest accomplishment.
Leyland presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Young after a reception and dinner at the Motor City Casino Hotel.
Southern University baseball head coach Roger Cador, former White Sox and Mets manager Jerry Manuel and former Detroit Lions wide receiver Herman Moore were among those in attendance.
Rivera takes pressure off All-Star skipper Leyland
DETROIT -- Yankees closer Mariano Rivera told ESPNNewYork.com on Sunday that he'd rather take on his customary role and close the All-Star Game on July 16 at Citi Field than start the Midsummer Classic.
Nobody could be happier to hear the news than manager Jim Leyland, the manager of the American League All-Star squad.
"Thank God for Mariano, he took me off the hook from all that silly [stuff] that they said about him starting the game," Leyland said. "He doesn't want to start the game, so he put an end to that for me, and I'm so happy about it because that's some silly [stuff] that I don't have to listen to."
Leyland and the Tigers gave Rivera a photo display of Rivera pitching at both Tiger Stadium and Comerica Park in his last regular-season trip to Detroit.
"I gave him a plaque," Leyland said. "And I hope I give him the ball in the ninth inning in New York."
• Tigers manager Jim Leyland says it's a possibility that Anibal Sanchez, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a right shoulder strain, will have to make a Minor League rehab start before returning to the starting rotation.
• Getting prepared for the All-Star Game, Leyland says he's contacted every American League manager that he didn't talk to earlier this year for their opinions on who should make the team. Leyland says his goal is to make sure players having good seasons don't slip through the cracks during the selection process.
Bobby Nightengale is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.