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 From the FSN Daily Wire

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laprimamirala
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PostSubject: Re: From the FSN Daily Wire   Tue Dec 02, 2008 5:30 pm

Hey, gang. Hope everyone had a GREAT Thanksgiving!.....

--1B/3B Jeff Larish might be blocked from a starting spot on Detroit's roster, but a solid Arizona Fall League capped a year in which he showed he's just about ready to leave the minors behind. Larish, 26, tied for second in the AFL with 29 RBIs, hit six home runs, batted .331 and had an on-base-plus-slugging pecentage of .958 in 30 games. He hit just .260 in 42 games with Detroit, but his average with runners in scoring position was .375, which he duplicated in his AFL season. Larish is blocked at first base by Miguel Cabrera and at third by Brandon Inge, but because he hits left-handed, he could challenge for a reserve position.

--SS Edgar Renteria, already jettisoned by Detroit at a cost of a $3 million buyout, was not offered arbitration by the Tigers. Renteria batted .270 with 10 home runs and 55 RBIs in 138 games with the Tigers, but his diminished range and a prolonged midseason slump induced the club to cut him loose.

--RHP Casey Fien bolstered his confidence for spring training with Detroit by having a solid Arizona Fall League season. Fien, 25, pitched at the Class AA level last summer. He has a good fastball and has been an effective relief pitcher in the minors. He had a 2-0 record, two saves and a 1.84 ERA for the Mesa Solar Sox of the AFL this fall, and he did not walk a batter in his 12 appearances. He struck out 15 in 14 2/3 innings. The Tigers will revamp their bullpen this offseason, and Fien, while considered a longshot, has a legitimate chance coming in the spring.

--RHP Rudy Darrow, 24, improved his standing in the organization with a strong Arizona Fall League showing. Darrow, who turns 25 before spring training, has a deceptive delivery but throws harder than most side-arm pitchers. He pitched 12 1/3 innings of relief for Mesa but struck out 18 and walked five. He was 1-0 with a 2.92 ERA. Darrow is unlikely to make the Tigers out of the spring, but how he fares against major league players could put him line for an in-season look.

--OF Casper Wells, 24, is one of the stronger players in a Detroit system weak on positional prospects. Wells, who just turned 24, put himself strongly on the Tigers' radar screen this year with solid performances in low Class A, Class AA and most recently the Arizona Fall League. Wells' chief drawback is that he's a right-handed hitter in an organization looking for left-handed power help. Wells hit eight home runs, drove in 23 runs and hit .321 for Mesa of the AFL and was added to Detroit's 40-man roster. Overall he hit 35 home runs and drove in 102 runs in 148 games for the three teams while batting .277.

"He's had a tremendous year," GM Dave Dombrowski said. "We like him a lot. He's really jumped up to the prospect level. He's taken significant leaps -- and he's going to continue to improve because he plays hard and has a lot of ability."

Ryne Sandberg, Mesa's hitting coach, described Wells as a five-tool player who has "one of the better arms I've seen in the whole league. When he makes contact, good things happen."

--C Dane Sardinha, who elected free agency after being waived by Detroit, changed his mind and signed a minor league contract with the Tigers. Sardinha hit just .179 in 17 games with Detroit over two terms but showed solid defensive skills. He gives the organization insurance at the position but also could be in play for a roster spot if the club is unable to obtain help for rookie C Dusty Ryan.

--RHP Junichi Tazawa will not get an offer from the Detroit Tigers, who cited a respect for tradition in deciding not to get involved with the 22-year-old amateur. Tigers assistant GM Al Avila said Detroit wants to avoid alienating Japanese pro teams as it anticipates becoming more of a presence in the Asian talent market over the next few years. Tazawa seeks to bypass Japan's pro leagues in going directly to pro ball in the United States. The major leagues and Japan's pro leagues have traditionally and unofficially agreed to avoid raiding the other country's amateur talent.

"We have invested much time and resources the last two years building our staff and rebuilding our good relationships in Japan and in other Asian countries in order to be players in those markets for years to come," Avila said in an e-mail to the Detroit Free Press.

BY THE NUMBERS: 28 -- Saves blown by Detroit's relievers last season. Detroit converted only 55 percent of its save opportunities, but just 39 percent without the 18-for-21 success rate of retired RHP Todd Jones. Only two American League clubs had fewer saves than Detroit's 34.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "There are no magical formulas outside of premium closers. But we have good arms in the system and a lot of possibilities there." -- GM Dave Dombrowski of Detroit, talking about his team's bullpen situation.
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PostSubject: Re: From the FSN Daily Wire   Wed Dec 10, 2008 5:27 pm

--C Gerald Laird was acquired from Texas in exchange for pitching prospects Guillermo Moscoso and Carlos Melo.

--SS Adam Everett was signed to a one-year, $1 million contract that includes incentive clauses.

--RHP Justin Verlander could wind up being a tough sign for the Tigers. Verlander, 25, was 11-17 with a 4.84 ERA for the worst season of his three full years with Detroit. He was paid $1.13 million last year and the Tigers might have sought to sign him to a long-term contract had he approached his first two seasons, when he was a combined 20 games over .500. Detroit must offer him a contract by Dec. 12. After that the Tigers will try to work out a deal before Verlander is eligible to file for arbitration in the Jan. 5-15 period.

--RHP Freddy Garcia, a free agent, might put off signing with a team until he's shown his right shoulder is healthy. Garcia, 33, came out of his second start in the Venezuelan Winter League after two innings with discomfort in the shoulder that was operated on in 2007. He pitched seven innings and had a 5.14 ERA in his first two starts following a lengthy delay in beginning winter ball. His agent, Peter Greenberg, said Garcia planned on pitching every fifth day the rest of the Venezuelan season. He pitched well for Detroit in September but left his final start with neck soreness.

--SS Edgar Renteria was not offered arbitration by Detroit, and thus the Tigers will get no draft choice compensation for his signing a two-year contract with San Francisco. Detroit had seven free agents but only Renteria would have brought compensation. The Tigers declined to offer arbitration because it felt he might accept, forcing the club to pay more than it wanted to. "The dollar amount we would have been exposed to we'd rather spend elsewhere," Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski said.

--OF Brent Clevlen, 25, finally has time on his side in his efforts to reach the majors. Clevlen is out of options and must make Detroit or be put through waivers before he gets returned to the minor leagues. He is a strong defender with a good arm who can play all the outfield positions. His chief drawback for Detroit is that he hits right-handed and the Tigers need left-handed hitting help. He's a player the Tigers could wind up putting in a deal for help at another position.

--LHP Kenny Rogers has sent Detroit no word on whether he wants to pitch again this season. "I've not heard a word from him," GM Dave Dombrowski said after Thanksgiving. Rogers, 44, formally filed to become a free agent but said before 2008 ended he'd only consider pitching for the Tigers if he decided to return at all.

--OF Marcus Thames has proven power numbers and could be a player Detroit will look to trade this offseason. Thames, 31, hit 25 home runs in 316 at-bats last season with a penchant for hitting them when they meant something. His defense leaves something to be desired but he's proven an excellent part-time player the last three years with the Tigers. Working against him could be his salary level. Detroit paid him $2.75 million last year and he'll earn at least that much in 2009. Thames is not yet eligible to become a free agent. The Tigers may decide they can't afford to pay a bench player that much next summer.

BY THE NUMBERS: 4 -- In-house closer candidates Detroit drafted last June -- RHPs Ryan Perry, Cody Saterwhite, Scott Green and Brett Jacobson were the Tigers' top four draftees and the organization is hopeful at least one of the four progresses to the point in 2009 where he can help at the major league level.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We'll come in at the same neighborhood in real dollars as last year. We have three spots of need and we will look at all of them with any combination of trades and free agency. We'll look at what we have to give up and how the players fit for us." -- GM Dave Dombrowski in mid-November on Detroit's payroll expectations for 2009.
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PostSubject: Re: From the FSN Daily Wire   Thu Dec 11, 2008 5:46 pm

I know this is old news, but this was what was in the Wire today...

Tigers acquire Jackson from RaysUpdated: December 11, 2008, 12:10 AM EST

LAS VEGAS (AP) - The Tigers acquired right-hander Edwin Jackson from the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday for outfielder Matt Joyce, Detroit's second trade in three days at the winter meetings.

Jackson is set to join a rotation alongside Justin Verlander, Armando Galarraga and Jeremy Bonderman, who had surgery in late June to correct a condition that caused a blood clot in his pitching arm.

Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski has filled two of the Tigers' biggest offseason needs after trading for catcher Gerald Laird on Monday. Laird was acquired from the Rangers in a swap that sent right-handed pitching prospects Guillermo Moscoso and Carlos Melo to Texas.

The 25-year-old Jackson went 14-11 with a 4.42 ERA in 31 starts and 32 appearances for the AL champion Rays this season, pitching a career-best 183 1-3 innings. He spent three seasons with Tampa Bay following three for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"Everybody in baseball has known his ability and potential for years," Dombrowski said. "He took a step forward last year and hopefully he'll take a step forward for us. ... We're in a spot where we get a pitcher we think will help us. He pitched on a World Series club last year. He's got great stuff."

While Dombrowski didn't necessarily want to give up Joyce, the outfield is his club's deepest position - with reliable regulars Curtis Granderson and Magglio Ordonez as the anchors.

A Tampa native, the 24-year-old Joyce batted .252 with 12 home runs and 33 RBIs in 92 games for the Tigers in 2008 as a rookie. He ranked third among AL rookies with a .492 slugging percentage after beginning the season with Triple-A Toledo. Joyce made his major league debut in May.

Rays general manager Andrew Friedman will keep looking to upgrade the offense with a designated hitter/right fielder but called Joyce "an above-average defensive right fielder."

"It gives us a little more comfort if we can't acquire that bat," Friedman said. "Having roster flexibility and depth is something that's extremely important to us."

The Tigers also were working to complete a one-year contract worth about $1 million for shortstop Adam Everett after he worked out for the team last week.

Everett batted just .213 with two home runs and 20 RBIs in 48 games for the Minnesota Twins last season, limited by a shoulder injury. He appeared in only 66 games the previous year for Houston, but the Tigers believe Everett will be a reliable option at shortstop.

The addition of the 31-year-old Everett would help settle some instability manager Jim Leyland faced in the infield this season. With Everett, Brandon Inge can return full-time to his natural spot at third base after catching 60 games in 2008, playing 51 at third and 15 in the outfield, including 13 in center.
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PostSubject: Re: From the FSN Daily Wire   Fri Dec 12, 2008 5:53 pm

December 12, 2008

--RHP Edwin Jackson was obtained from Tampa Bay in exchange for OF Matt Joyce. Jackson was a 14-game winner, but he didn't make a start in the postseason despite being a season-long member of the Rays rotation. He also has the potential to become a right-handed version of Dontrelle Willis -- a pitcher who can't throw strikes. Jackson, 25, walked 77 batters in 183 1/3 innings to go with 108 strikeouts. He was 14-11 with a 4.42 ERA.

"Edwin pitched on a World Series club and has great stuff," Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski said. "Everyone in baseball's known about his ability. He took a step forward this year. Hopefully, he'll take another step for us. It's unusual to pick up a guy who won 14 games."
"I'm excited to join a new team, a great offensive team," Jackson said. "I can play for the Detroit Tigers any day. I've seen their work ethic. I've seen Jim Leyland from the other dugout. He's a hardnosed manager who's gonna have your back."

--C Gerald Laird was acquired from Texas for a pair of minor league pitchers. Laird, 29, was largely a backup for the first five of his six seasons with the Rangers, for whom he hit .276 with six home runs and 41 RBIs in 95 games this year. He has a career average of .255 with 25 home runs and 134 RBIs. Laird hit .299 away from home last season. "He is going to be a perfect fit for our ballpark," manager Jim Leyland said. "We are not a club that has a lot of speed, and we think we have added a guy that can help us in that area, too. And he can catch. We've seen him for the last few years and have been very high on him."

"When they said 'the Tigers,' I was thrilled," Laird said. "Comerica is a great hitting park. I'm a fan of big ballparks. But it's the whole organization. There's a lot of history."

--SS Adam Everett, 31, passed a Detroit physical after agreeing to a $1 million, one-year contract with the Tigers earlier in the week. The Tigers delayed formal filing and announcement of the deal to give them flexibility to make a roster move after the non-tender date Dec. 12 without having to cut a player. Everett worked out for the Tigers at Lakeland, Fla., the first week of December, and once Detroit saw he had regained his arm strength, he was offered a contract. Everett played sparingly for Minnesota last season because of a shoulder injury. "We liked what we saw. He threw the ball well. The reports on him were very good," GM Dave Dombrowski said.

--LHP Kyle Bloom was selected by Detroit from the Pittsburgh organization in the Rule 5 draft. Bloom, 25, dominated much younger and more inexperienced hitters in Hawaii Winter Baseball, and the way he threw caught the eye of veteran Tigers scout Dick Egan. He also began showing more life on his fastball late in the season after smoothing out his delivery. The former fifth-round draft pick out of Illinois State will likely be tried as a long reliever for Detroit after being primarily a starter over his five-year career in Pittsburgh's farm system. Bloom went 5-8 with a 4.19 ERA at Class AA Altoona last season, allowing 103 hits over 109 2/3 innings with 55 walks and 93 strikeouts.

"If he throws the way he threw for Egan, I think he'll be interesting and have a chance to make our ballclub," GM Dave Dombrowski said.

Bloom has a solid curve to go with a decent fastball and changeup. In 30 Hawaii innings, Bloom allowed just 15 hits with 11 walks and 32 strikeouts.

--C James Skelton was selected by Arizona in the Rule 5 draft. The Diamondbacks must keep Skelton on their roster all season or offer him back to the Tigers at half the draft selection price. Skelton is regarded as undersized for catching but has proven himself all the way through the minors to the Class AA level. Detroit elected to keep two spots open on its 40-man roster rather than add Skelton. "We just don't think he's ready to play in the big leagues," GM Dave Dombrowski said.

--RHP Joel Zumaya, who suffered through his second consecutive injury-shortened season, could get a go-ahead to begin throwing before Christmas as he continues to come back from right shoulder surgery more than a year ago. Zumaya had come back to some small degree of success -- his velocity was back but not his control -- before getting shut down in late August when scar tissue and a stress fracture ended his season. "He's progressing well, he's feeling good," GM Dave Dombrowski said of Zumaya, 24, who could get cleared this week to begin light tossing from 60 feet. "It gives him ample time to be ready for the season."

BY THE NUMBERS: 28.9 -- Percentage of base-stealing attempts turned into outs by new Tigers C Gerald Laird last season. This compares to the 29.7 percentage of C Brandon Inge, who took over behind the plate when Detroit traded C Ivan Rodriguez to the New York Yankees at the end of July.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think that we need to get that confident but professional swagger back, and I think we lost that last year. I think, for one thing, we were asking some people to do things that they weren't capable of doing, and I think that's very unfair. I think some of our veteran players were probably disappointed." -- Manager Jim Leyland on one of his goals for spring training in 2009.
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PostSubject: Re: From the FSN Daily Wire   Tue Dec 16, 2008 5:22 pm

December 16, 2008

Tigers finalize 1-year, $1M deal with Everett.

DETROIT (AP) - Shortstop Adam Everett and the Detroit Tigers finalized a one-year contract Monday worth about $1 million.

"We've talked about improving our defense, and we think Adam obviously does that," Tigers president Dave Dombrowski said during a telephone conference call. "He also can help us offensively — he can get the big hit."

Everett batted just .213 with two home runs and 20 RBIs in 48 games for the Minnesota Twins last season, when he was hampered by a shoulder injury. He appeared in 66 games the previous year for Houston, but the Tigers believe Everett will be a solid option at shortstop.

"I feel like I've always been able to handle the bat and help my team win," Everett said. "I've been hurt the last couple years — there's no secret there — and I haven't been able to show everything I can do offensively."

Everett is expected to replace Edgar Renteria, who became a free agent after the Tigers declined his 2009 option.

"I knew the Tigers were looking to improve their defense at shortstop, so it seemed like a great fit," Everett said. "Once I got an offer from them, I didn't really talk to anyone else."

With the Tigers also planning on moving Brandon Inge to third base after obtaining catcher Gerald Laird from Texas, Everett is excited about the possibilities.

"Brandon is a great defensive third baseman," he said. "He's going to make any shortstop better, just because of his great range."

Dombrowski hopes that the Inge-Everett combination will fix up one of Detroit's most glaring weaknesses from a year ago — infield defense.

"We've really been focused on improving our defense during this offseason, and that starts with putting Brandon back at third, where he is one of the best in the league," he said. "When you add Adam, that already gives us one of the best left-side infields in the game."
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PostSubject: Re: From the FSN Daily Wire   Tue Jan 13, 2009 6:34 pm

Happy Tigers New Year, Everyone!
Updated: January 12, 2009, 9:00 PM EST

--CF Curtis Granderson is on the list of players invited to be on Team USA in this year's World Baseball Classic. According to Major League Baseball, provisional rosters will be announced Jan. 19 and the final 28-man rosters for each country will be announced Feb. 24. Team USA workouts begin March 2, and the Americans' first game is March 7 against Canada in Toronto. Team USA is in Pool C with Canada, Italy and Venezuela. All Pool C games are at the Rogers Centre in Toronto.

--RHP Joel Zumaya could begin throwing this week as he continues to progress from the stress fracture in his shoulder that cut short his 2008 season. Zumaya quit throwing in September after tearing scar tissue in the shoulder. He was cleared late in December to expand his strengthening program to include overhead exercises with his arm and shoulder, according to trainer Kevin Rand. Zumaya was examined in San Diego, where he lives, by Dr. Heinz Hoenecke, one of the specialists who performed reconstructive surgery on the AC joint in Zumaya's right shoulder in November 2007. Zumaya plans to travel to Detroit's spring training base in Lakeland to begin his throwing program. "He's steadily gotten better," Rand said. "He's gotten full, pain-free range of motion back, and he was able to begin doing strengthening work." It is too soon to tell whether Zumaya will be ready to participate fully in spring training when pitchers and catchers report Feb. 14.

--OF Wilkin Ramirez, one of the Tigers' highly regarded hitting prospects, played only seven Dominican winter league games because of symptoms consistent with gastroenteritis. Ramirez was sent home after becoming ill. He was added to Detroit's 40-man roster in November and is expected to begin the season at Class AAA Toledo. Ramirez has good speed and power but must master changeups and curves to make the majors.

--RHP Freddy Dolsi is working on adding to his fastball as he toils for Licey of the Dominican winter league. Dolsi, who impressed as a midseason call-up by the Tigers after working only a handful of Class AA games, had a 6.75 ERA through his first eight winter league appearances, all in relief. Dolsi had eight strikeouts and only two walks in 6 2/3 innings, although he had allowed eight hits. He is seen as a future closer candidate once he gets a reliable pitch to add to his fastball.

--RF Magglio Ordonez enters the 2009 season eighth among active players with a .312 career batting average. That puts him 84th on the all-time list. Ordonez won the 2007 AL batting championship and challenged again in 2008 before a September slump put him out of the race. He has hit .300 or better three of his four seasons with the Tigers.

--OF Alexis Gomez is returning to the organization where he was most successful, the Tigers. Gomez rejoined the Tigers on a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training with the big club. Gomez, 30, last played in the majors in 2006 with Detroit, where he hit a two-run home run and drove in four runs in his first postseason game, in the AL Championship Series at Oakland. He went 4-for-9 in three games of the four-game ALCS sweep, helping make up for the left-handed bat lost when injured 1B Sean Casey missed the series. Gomez signed with Colorado that winter and spent the 2007 season at Class AAA Colorado Springs before joining the Marlins organization last year at Class AAA Albuquerque. He batted .234 with five doubles, four home runs and 12 RBIs in 23 games (73 at-bats) for the Isotopes. Gomez batted .272 for the Tigers in 2006, playing 62 games, mostly as a late game replacement. His contract calls for a $415,000 salary if he were to spend the entire season in the big leagues.

BY THE NUMBERS: 113 -- Errors committed by the Tigers last season, tied for fifth-most in the majors. It was a big reason Detroit has new players at shortstop, catcher, third base and left field for the 2009 season.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We've really been focused on improving our defense, and that starts with putting Brandon (Inge) back at third, where he is one of the best in the league. When you add Adam (Everett), that gives us one of the best left-side infields in the game. Adam is one of the premier shortstops in the game."
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PostSubject: Re: From the FSN Daily Wire   Sat Jan 24, 2009 5:20 am

Happy Tiger Fest Everybody!


Updated: January 24, 2009, 4:00 AM EST
--RHP Justin Verlander submitted a salary request of $4.15 million if his contract status goes to arbitration next month. Detroit countered with an offer of $3.2 million. Verlander dropped from 18 to 11 victories last season, when he made $1.13 million. "It's definitely disappointing, but I wouldn't say humbling," Verlander said of last season. "I've always believed in my ability. That's just the way I'm built. What I went through was frustrating, but I don't think I got too frustrated. I gave it everything I had, my heart and soul, but I could have done a lot better." Verlander thought he pitched better than his 11-17 record, noting he had a solid stretch in the middle of the season. "If I knew what I'd had done wrong and that would fix it, baseball would be an easy game, But it's not. It's a game of adjustments, and I think I'm making those adjustments," he said.

--C Gerald Laird avoided arbitration with the Jan. 20 announcement he had signed for a raise of more than $1.5 million. Laird, acquired from Texas in a winter deal to be Detroit's regular catcher, hit .276 with six home runs and 41 runs batted in over 95 games. He made $1.6 million with the Rangers but reportedly will get paid $2.8 million by the Tigers. He has thrown out 36.6 percent of runners attempting to steal since the start of the 2003 season, second-best among American League catchers.

--LHP Bobby Seay nearly doubled his salary, reportedly agreeing to a $1.3 million contract to avoid going to arbitration. Seay finished 1-2 with a 4.47 ERA in 60 games last season, when he was paid $735,000, and set career highs with 60 appearances, 56 1/3 innings and 58 strikeouts. He has pitched for Detroit the last three seasons, going 4-2 with a 3.89 ERA.

--RHP Joel Zumaya, coming off two injury-shortened seasons, avoided arbitration by agreeing to a contract reportedly calling for a raise to $735,000. Zumaya has been throwing lightly since late December after his 2008 season was first shortened and then halted because of right shoulder problems. He underwent surgery in November 2007, came back in midseason but was put out of action by the tearing of scar tissue in August. He pitched in 21 games, going 0-2 with a 3.47 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings. Zumaya has gone 8-8 with a 2.76 ERA in three years with the Tigers. He was paid $420,000 a year ago.

--RHP Edwin Jackson avoided arbitration when he agreed on a one-year deal for an estimated $2.2 million. Jackson was paid $412,700 by Tampa Bay and won 14 games before being traded to Detroit between seasons. Jackson had a 4.42 ERA in 32 games, all but one of them starts. He was used out of the bullpen by the Rays in postseason play.

--RHP Juan Rincon signed a minor league contract and invited to participate in major league spring training. "He's been a solid major league pitcher most of his career," GM Dave Dombrowski said. "Plus, (new pitching coach) Rick Knapp knows him and likes him." "I think this guy's primed for a turnaround year," Knapp said. "I think this is a great fit for us. I look forward to having Juan return to the way he was." Rincon posted an ERA less than 3.00 for Minnesota in the 2004-06 seasons. He served a 10-day suspension in 2005 for testing positive under Major League Baseball's drug policy for an illegal performance-enhancing substance. Rincon, who turns 30 next month, has slipped the last two seasons and rejected a minor league assignment last year. He became a free agent and ended the year with Cleveland. Rincon went 3-3 with a 5.86 ERA with Minnesota and Cleveland. He was among the players announced for the provisional roster of the Venezuelan team for the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

--1B/3B Jeff Larish has a chance to make the Detroit roster this spring, according to manager Jim Leyland. "He's one of the candidates that possibly will be fighting for the 25th spot on the team," Leyland said. "That is a fact." Larish would be battling incumbent UT Ryan Raburn, but the rookie's advantage is he's a left-handed hitter with power, something the Tigers need. Larish, a first baseman, was surprised to get some looks at third base when called up to Detroit last summer and spent time during the Arizona Fall League season relearning skills he had not paid attention to since he was a freshman at Arizona State. "I got a lot of quality work in," said Larish, who got married right after the AFL season ended. "Each game I played over there, I got a better idea of the angles and jumps."

BY THE NUMBERS: 3 -- Pitchers competing for the lone open spot in the Detroit rotation entering spring training. LHPs Nate Robertson, Dontrelle Willis and RHP Zach Miner will battle for the vacancy following the confirmation by manager Jim Leyland during Detroit's press caravan that four right-handers are penciled in to be starters -- Justin Verlander, Armando Galarraga, Jeremy Bonderman and Edwin Jackson.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "You don't just come in and tear it up every night, every day of every year. Like I've said all along, if Justin takes advantage of it, and learns from it, and makes any kind of adjustment, there's nothing wrong with that. A lot of players struggle. But it's the players who figure out why they struggled that get better. He spoiled us those first two years. But I think he'll be an excellent pitcher for us." -- Manager Jim Leyland on RHP Justin Verlander
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PostSubject: Re: From the FSN Daily Wire   Thu Feb 05, 2009 5:50 pm

Detroit Tigers Notes, Quotes
by Sports Xchange


--RHP Eddie Bonine was outrighted to the Tigers' Class AAA Toledo affiliate, but he was given a non-roster invitation to the team's big-league spring camp.

--RHP Justin Verlander and the Tigers agreed to a one-year deal worth $3,675,000, avoiding arbitration. Verlander had been seeking $4.15 million, while the Tigers had offered him $3.2 million.

--RHP Brandon Lyon has been compared to the Detroit closer he is hoping to succeed this spring, RHP Todd Jones, in that he makes batters hit the ball. Lyon has walked only four batters in the 51 major league games he has saved over his career. "Going out there and beating yourself is not the way to go about it," Lyon said. "Make the other team beat you." Allowing hits but few walks was a trait of Jones as he wound up his baseball career with the Tigers. Lyon said he learned from Jones when both were with Boston in 2003. Lyon also said he turned down a multi-year contract to sign a one-year deal with Detroit because, "I don't see a better team on paper in the major leagues. I want to win. I want to be on a winning team. That was the bottom line about where I was going to go. The situation just suited me better. I heard from other players that it's great to play in Detroit and that weighed in my decision."

--RHP Joel Zumaya expects to return to throwing off a mound the first week of February. He's been throwing long distances with no discomfort in his right shoulder. A stress fracture ended his 2008 season prematurely. "If I'm feeling some tightness or any slight discomfort, I can go in there, they'll scope it, and I'll be just fine," Zumaya said. "I could have gotten it fixed. But the way I'm feeling, I don't need surgery. I'm feeling fine. I'm ready to go." He wants to be included in the competition between RHPs Brandon Lyon and Fernando Rodney for the role as Detroit's closer. "I have a lot of respect for Brandon Lyon," Zumaya said. "He'll be a major help for our bullpen. But I'm still going to go out there and fight for that closer spot. I know I haven't been the healthiest the last couple of years. But I'm only 24 years old. I haven't lost anything. I haven't lost any velocity. I want all the fans to know that."

--LF Carlos Guillen will be a solid addition to the Detroit outfield, coach Andy Van Slyke said. Guillen should be "the best we've had since I've been here," said Van Slyke, who is in his fourth season as the Tigers' outfield coach. "I'm a pretty harsh critic, so I wouldn't be saying this if I didn't believe it, but with his athleticism, I think Carlos will be an above average left fielder for us." Guillen was signed by Houston as an outfielder but quickly switch to the middle infield. He had limited work in the outfield last year and was being switched to left when he got hurt, which led to his returning to the infield and then his season ending because of back problems. Van Slyke said Guillen should be above-average defensively "compared to other major-league left fielders."

--RHP Ryan Perry, the Tigers' top draft choice last summer, is a reliever Detroit feels could move quickly to the majors. "When you see Ryan Perry and you see him for the first time in Spring Training, you are going to say, 'Wow,'" said general manager Dave Dombrowski. "I guarantee you that. I have seen him throw 100 mph myself. This guy is very close to the arm strength of a Joel Zumaya. He is right there." RHP Joel Zumaya and RHP Justin Verlander both made the Detroit roster from the minors in 2006 off impressive spring showings. There was a need for pitching at that time and there's a need now. Perry, who didn't start pitching seriously until college, does not have the experience Zumaya did. "He is continuing to develop," Dombrowski said of Perry. "He hasn't pitched that long. He is the type of guy that could come extremely fast. I have no doubt about that. And when you have that type of ability, your mind is always open."

--RHP Scott Williamson is on a minor league contract but Detroit feels he has a chance to make a bullpen in need of help -- if he's healthy. Williamson has not pitched in the majors since 2007, when he was with Baltimore, because of lingering problems following elbow reconstruction. He pitched only a double-handful of games at the Triple-A level for two organizations last season. "We sent Bruce Tanner (Tigers scout) to see him and he said, for the first time, he's healthy," general manger Dave Dombrowski said of Williamson, who came up as a high-90s thrower. He was the National League's top rookie pitcher in 1999 and had his best season in 2002, when he was 3-4 in 63 games with a 2.92 ERA and 74 strikeouts in 62 2/3 innings.

--OF Timo Perez returned for a third season in the Detroit organization Jan. 26 by signing a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training. Perez, 33, spent last season at Triple-A Toledo but batted .389 during a brief stint with Detroit in 2007. He could earn $12,000 per month in the minors or $525,000 if he spends all of 2009 in the majors. Perez was with Toledo in 2008, when he hit .302 with 13 home runs and 63 RBIs in 112 games. Perez hit .391 this winter for Licey in the Dominican Winter League.

--OF Bronson Sardinha, whose brother Dane is a catcher in the Detroit system, has signed a minor league contract with the Tigers. Bronson, who signed without an invitation to major league spring training, is a 25-year-old outfielder who went 3-for-9 with the New York Yankees in 2007 for his only big league experience. Dane Sardinha returned for a third year to the Tigers' system after electing free agency when he was bumped off the major league roster last fall. He played 17 games for Detroit as a backup catcher last season but did not hit well. Bronson spent most of last year at Double-A Akron in the Cleveland organization, hitting .271 with six home runs and 46 RBIs.

BY THE NUMBERS: 20 -- Letters in Bronson Sardinha's middle name, most in major league history and one more letter than in his brother Dane's middle name. The Sardinha brothers were born in Hawaii. Bronson was recently signed to a minor league contract by Detroit and his middle name is Kiheimahanaomauiakeo. Dane re-signed a minor league deal with the Tigers and his middle name is Kalahanauokekainalu. Both brothers have limited Major League experience.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Going out there and beating yourself is not the way to go about it. Make the other team beat you." -- RHP Brandon Lyon, recently signed by the Tigers to compete for the job as closer, on why he doesn't walk many batters.
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PostSubject: Re: From the FSN Daily Wire   Tue Feb 17, 2009 6:36 pm

Tigers' Gary Sheffield trying out new approach

Updated: February 17, 2009, 1:05 PM EST
LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) - Gary Sheffield is trying something new as he enters his 21st season in the majors: He wants to cut back on controversial remarks.

"After a while, you just get tired of the rhetoric," Sheffield said Tuesday before joining the Detroit Tigers for their first full-squad workout.
Can Sheffield keep up his new approach?

"I hope so," he said, smiling and laughing.

A year ago, Sheffield called his former agent, Scott Boras, a "bad person" and said he would have more to say when their dispute was settled.

An arbitrator decided in October that Sheffield owed Boras $550,000 for eliminating a 2004 option that allowed him to become a free agent, but the slugger declined comment.

"Anything personally, I'm not even getting involved with it," Sheffield said.

Now the 40-year-old Sheffield is one homer from becoming the 25th player to hit 500 homers and trying to bounce back from a bad year.

Sheffield said his family, including uncle Doc Gooden, will travel to Toronto for the season-opening series in the hopes of watching him reach the milestone.

"For the team's sake, I just hope I get it out of the way so I don't have to worry about it," he said. "I don't want to put the focus on my accomplishments. It's about the team."

Sheffield is in the final year of his contract and said he hasn't thought about whether he wants to play in 2010.
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PostSubject: Re: From the FSN Daily Wire   Fri Feb 20, 2009 9:10 am

Tigers counting on Brandon Lyon to be their closer
Updated: February 18, 2009, 6:42 PM EST
LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) - The Detroit Tigers desperately needed to add a closer this winter to replace the retired Todd Jones.

Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney, the relievers groomed to replace Jones, both failed to instill confidence because they were either hurt or ineffective last year.
So, how important was the signing of Brandon Lyon last month?

"We'll find out," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said Wednesday.

Lyon had a career-high 26 saves for the Arizona Diamondbacks last season, but a late slide led to him losing his job. He had a 2.43 ERA before the All-Star break and an 8.46 ERA after, ballooning with a 12.27 ERA in August.

The Tigers, though, viewed him as the good fit as a closer at the right price.

Lyon signed a $4.25 million, one-year contract - with the potential to make $500,000 more in bonuses - after turning down multiyear offers from other teams.

"Minnesota was interested in me, it was always an option to go back to Arizona and some other teams were possibilities," he said. "The other teams, though, weren't sure what they wanted to do or they were talking about putting me in a setup role.

"It was not only about the opportunity to close, but to be on a team I felt had the best chance to win."

Detroit was not going to repeat its spending spree from the previous offseason, so it didn't pursue high-priced free agents Francisco Rodriguez, who signed with the New York Mets, or Kerry Wood, who joined the Cleveland Indians.

"After some of those other guys that we knew we weren't going to be in the hunt for, (Lyon) was the next guy on our list," Leyland said. "He had some other options and the fact that he chose us is flattering."

Lyon made his major league debut in 2001 with Toronto and started 11 games that season and 10 the next for the Blue Jays.

The right-hander became a reliever in 2003 for Boston, appearing in 29 games and saving nine.

The native of Salt Lake City had 14 saves for the Diamondbacks in 2005, but an injury stunted his success in May when he was leading the NL in saves. Lyon was relegated to being a setup man the next two seasons before getting another shot to be a closer last year.

He made the most of the opportunity with 15 straight saves from early April to late June and didn't allow a run in 24 straight appearances before he was beset by struggles that cost him his job.

"I learned a lot," Lyon said. "I wasn't consistent and I think that's because I wasn't preparing as well as I needed to, especially when I had long stretches between games. I'll use that experience to help me this season with the Tigers."

Rodney or Zumaya could conceivably become Detroit's closer this season, but the franchise couldn't count on either one of the pitchers who were key setup men during the 2006 AL Championship season.

The Tigers had 28 blown saves last season, trailing only Seattle in the AL, with Rodney going 13-of-19 and Zumaya saving only one game in five chances as both had shoulder problems.

Rodney has said he feels healthy and is determined to compete to be on the mound at the end of games. Zumaya declined to be interviewed on Wednesday, for the third straight day, but seems to be throwing hard in workouts.

In a perfect world, Lyon will deliver in his role while Rodney's changeup and Zumaya's fastballs set up Detroit to bounce back from a bad year and avoid a closer-by-committee approach.

"Any time you can get a closer," said Leyland, emphasizing the 'a', "particularly if he's a good one, it takes stress off everyone."
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PostSubject: Re: From the FSN Daily Wire   Fri Feb 20, 2009 9:13 am

Detroit Tigers Inside Pitch
by Sports Xchange


Updated: February 18, 2009, 8:20 PM EST

There won't be much whining from the Tigers' spring training complex over the impact the World Baseball Classic will have on the club's preparations for the season.
Manager Jim Leyland believes it's only a distraction if you let it become one. He focuses on who he has to work with instead of the players that are away competing for national teams.
Detroit could have as many as 13 players involved in the WBC, but some are likely to get cut and some are on the Tigers' minor league rosters.

The Tigers initially will be missing their whole starting outfield (right fielder Magglio Ordonez, center fielder Curtis Granderson, left fielder Carlos Guillen) and the right side of their infield (second baseman Placido Polanco, first baseman Miguel Cabrera), so Leyland essentially will be fielding a "B" squad lineup until at least the first cuts are made by the national teams.

It's good news for utility man Ryan Raburn, however, as he will probably see a lot of outfield action. His competition for a bench spot, Jeff Larish, should see a lot of first base and third base playing time, and maybe even a little in left field in an effort to expand his defensive horizons.

Detroit has a few minor league second basemen who will have opportunities to impress Leyland.

And outfielder Casper Wells, who put himself on Detroit's prospect list with a strong minor league season a year ago, will get his first good look at major league pitching.

Those are the kinds of things Leyland will be looking at, instead of bemoaning the fact players he already knows about aren't in camp.

WHERE, WHEN: Joker Marchant Stadium, Tigertown, Lakeland, Fla. First exhibition game is Feb. 25 against Atlanta.

TOP CANDIDATE TO SURPRISE: 1B Miguel Cabrera led the league with a career-high 37 home runs and had a career-best 127 runs batted in last year in his first look at American League pitching even though he didn't really start mashing until midseason. His manager, Jim Leyland, preached all year to Cabrera about bearing down on every at-bat because he plays the game at a higher level than most, and it seemed he finally started taking that message to heart late in the season. His .292 average was his first below .300 in four years, and many insiders believe Cabrera has Triple Crown potential. At 26, he's only now reaching his physical peak, and instead of going down, he could be headed for new performance milestones.

TOP CANDIDATE TO DISAPPOINT: LF Carlos Guillen followed seven straight years in which his batting average rose with two straight seasons of decline. He played through knee and hamstring ailments in 2007 but missed most of last August and all of September because of a balky back, and at age 33 those could be signs he's hitting the wall physically. Moving him to the outfield is part of a plan to improve Detroit's overall defense (he came to pro ball as an outfielder), but injuries were a problem for Guillen early in his career and it could be that he's on the verge of simply wearing out.

AUTHORITY FIGURES: Manager Jim Leyland is 257-229 in his three seasons with Detroit, but his win total has dropped each year since the Tigers lost the 2006 World Series. That's one reason the organization decided to deny him an extension as he heads into the final year of his contract. Disappointed because his lame-duck status will be a news topic until it's resolved, he has acknowledged that if Detroit has a good year he will be back but if it doesn't, he'll be gone. The front office fired his pitching coach, Chuck Hernandez (and his bullpen coach, Jeff Jones, who was quickly returned to his job) in favor of Minnesota minor league pitching coach Rick Knapp.
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PostSubject: Re: From the FSN Daily Wire   Fri Feb 20, 2009 7:11 pm

Tigers' Ordonez can cash in on $18 million option
Associated Press

Updated: February 19, 2009, 7:48 PM EST
LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) - Magglio Ordonez is entering the final guaranteed season of his contract with the Detroit Tigers.
Ordonez, though, isn't rooting to cash in as a free agent next winter.
"Not now," he said Thursday with a grin.

The six-time All-Star outfielder is batting an AL-best .323 since the start of the 2005 season and has 100-plus RBIs in each of the last three years, numbers that would make him very desirable on the market.

But the sagging economy has made free agency less lucrative these days.

Just ask Manny Ramirez.

In Ordonez's deal, Detroit has a $15 million option for 2010 with a $3 million buyout and a $15 million option for 2011 with no buyout.

But his salary in each of those years becomes guaranteed if he has 135 starts or 540 plate appearances in the previous season, or 270 starts or 1,080 plate appearances in the previous two years.

If his 2010 salary becomes guaranteed under the provision, it would be at $18 million and the 2011 salary would be $15 million.

"I'm very lucky I signed with the Tigers when I did," Ordonez said. "Players do not get that kind of money now."

Ordonez played in 146 games last season and had 561 at-bats, hitting .317 with 21 homers and 103 RBIs.

He played in an average of 156 games during the 2006-07 seasons in Detroit, earning an All-Star nod each year.

Ordonez proved he wasn't the injury-prone player the Chicago White Sox thought he was after two surgeries on his left knee limited him to 52 games in 2004.

"I'm very happy and proud that I've been healthy because it took a lot of hard work," Ordonez said. "It wasn't easy, but it was worth it to do the consistent training I did to get back to being the player I was before."

Ordonez was an All-Star from 1999-2001 and in 2003 for the White Sox, averaging 32 homers, 118 RBIs and a .300-plus average over a four-season span. But the White Sox and other teams had doubts Ordonez and his knee would bounce back.

Detroit took a gamble on him and it paid off.

The Tigers signed Ordonez to a $75 million, five-year contract on Feb. 7, 2005, that was structured to pay him as little as $12 million for one year if his knee problems flared up or as much as $105 million over seven seasons.

"He's played well for us and he's earned his contract," Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "He's one of the higher-paid players in the game, but he's also one of the better players. He's an offensive force, who drives in a lot of runs. He's a .300-plus hitter, who will drive in 100-plus runs. We're happy to have him."

After hernia surgery led to Ordonez missing almost half of the 2005 season in Detroit, he has been healthy and productive. With a powerful bat, humble ways, good looks and curly locks spilling out of the back of his cap, he's also very popular in the Motor City.

He secured his place in Tigers lore two years ago with his series-winning, three-run homer against Oakland that lifted them into their first World Series in 22 years.

Tigers Hall of Famer Al Kaline, who has been part of the franchise for nearly six decades as a player and observer, considers Ordonez's soaring shot over the left-field wall as big a moment in the team history as the one Kirk Gibson hit off San Diego's Goose Gossage in the clinching game of the 1984 World Series.

After Detroit lost to the St. Louis Cardinals, Ordonez hit .363 in 2007 and won the AL batting title with the highest average by a Tiger since 1937 and finished second in voting for league MVP.

Ordonez was fifth in the AL last season with .317 average and had 103 RBIs, becoming the second player from Venezuela to 1,000 RBIs in the majors.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland said it's difficult to help hitters improve because much of what they do happens instinctually, adding Ordonez is a player born to succeed at the plate.

"He has a real good feel - one of the best I've seen ever - as far as knowing what the pitcher is trying to do to him," Leyland said.

The Tigers plan to bat Ordonez third in the lineup, behind crafty hitter Placido Polanco and before reigning AL home run champion Miguel Cabrera.

While the 37-year-old Ordonez has many millions to gain with another strong season, he's focused on helping the Tigers win a title after being baseball's biggest flop last year following an 88-win season and AL championship.

"I'm very excited for this season because a lot of people are thinking we're going to finish last place again and we're going to prove people wrong," Ordonez said. "Last year, they thought we were going to win the whole thing and we have a lot of the same players.

"If we stay healthy and work hard, we can win the World Series." clap clap clap Love 2
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PostSubject: Re: From the FSN Daily Wire   Thu Feb 26, 2009 10:00 pm

Detroit Tigers Inside Pitch
by Sports Xchange


Updated: February 25, 2009, 11:20 PM EST
A dozen things have to break right for the Tigers to be a factor in the American League this season.

Justin Verlander, Jeremy Bonderman, Brandon Lyon, Joel Zumaya, Edwin Jackson, Armando Galarraga, Fernando Rodney ... get the idea?
Manager Jim Leyland will be watching rookie pitching coach Rick Knapp's projects as they stretch out their arms and get prepared for the grind of a long season.

While every prospective member of the rotation has a question attached to his prospectus, each also has a history of accomplishing good things.

Verlander faces a year that will tell whether he can adapt to a lack of success. Bonderman must show he's recovered from a blood clot and subsequent surgery. Was Galarraga's excellent rookie season a fluke? Jackson must continue to cut down on his walks but also learn how to miss bats.

Left-handers Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson will either bounce back this year or face the prospect of continuing a downward slide to obscurity.

Right-hander Zach Miner stands in reserve in case any of the other six rotation candidates falters.

Those are the things Leyland has to sort out as he builds his rotation for 2009. Last season opened with three southpaws in the rotation. This year there could none.

Questions abound in the bullpen. Can Lyon close for more than two months? Will Rodney be able to get his fastball over and be successful as either the setup man or closer?

The manager will be on the watch to see if Zumaya can breach 40 innings without getting hurt. And he'll be trying to find a handful of other pitchers to put in the bullpen, one of the worst in baseball last year.

Leyland thinks he has a lot of the pieces in place. But he doesn't know.

That's his biggest project of the spring, finding those things out. Because if his 12 pitchers don't do well this year, he -- and many of them -- won't be around in 2010.

WHERE, WHEN: Joker Marchant Stadium, Tigertown, Lakeland, Fla. First exhibition game is Feb. 25 against Atlanta.

TOP CANDIDATE TO SURPRISE: 1B Miguel Cabrera led the league with a career-high 37 home runs and had a career-best 127 runs batted in last year in his first look at American League pitching even though he didn't really start mashing until midseason. His manager, Jim Leyland, preached all year to Cabrera about bearing down on every at-bat because he plays the game at a higher level than most, and it seemed he finally started taking that message to heart late in the season. His .292 average was his first below .300 in four years, and many insiders believe Cabrera has Triple Crown potential. At 26, he's only now reaching his physical peak, and instead of going down, he could be headed for new performance milestones.

TOP CANDIDATE TO DISAPPOINT: LF Carlos Guillen followed seven straight years in which his batting average rose with two straight seasons of decline. He played through knee and hamstring ailments in 2007 but missed most of last August and all of September because of a balky back, and at age 33 those could be signs he's hitting the wall physically. Moving him to the outfield is part of a plan to improve Detroit's overall defense (he came to pro ball as an outfielder), but injuries were a problem for Guillen early in his career and it could be that he's on the verge of simply wearing out.

AUTHORITY FIGURES: Manager Jim Leyland is 257-229 in his three seasons with Detroit, but his win total has dropped each year since the Tigers lost the 2006 World Series. That's one reason the organization decided to deny him an extension as he heads into the final year of his contract. Disappointed because his lame-duck status will be a news topic until it's resolved, he has acknowledged that if Detroit has a good year he will be back but if it doesn't, he'll be gone. The front office fired his pitching coach, Chuck Hernandez (and his bullpen coach, Jeff Jones, who was quickly returned to his job) in favor of Minnesota minor league pitching coach Rick Knapp.
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PostSubject: Re: From the FSN Daily Wire   Thu Feb 26, 2009 10:26 pm

Zoom gonna get strike zone in control again, as long as he does not try to overthrow!


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
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PostSubject: Re: From the FSN Daily Wire   Fri Feb 27, 2009 6:23 pm

Detroit Tigers Inside Pitch
by Sports Xchange


Updated: February 27, 2009, 3:00 AM EST
A dozen things have to break right for the Tigers to be a factor in the American League this season.

Justin Verlander, Jeremy Bonderman, Brandon Lyon, Joel Zumaya, Edwin Jackson, Armando Galarraga, Fernando Rodney ... get the idea?
Manager Jim Leyland will be watching rookie pitching coach Rick Knapp's projects as they stretch out their arms and get prepared for the grind of a long season.

While every prospective member of the rotation has a question attached to his prospectus, each also has a history of accomplishing good things.

Verlander faces a year that will tell whether he can adapt to a lack of success. Bonderman must show he's recovered from a blood clot and subsequent surgery. Was Galarraga's excellent rookie season a fluke? Jackson must continue to cut down on his walks but also learn how to miss bats.

Left-handers Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson will either bounce back this year or face the prospect of continuing a downward slide to obscurity.

Right-hander Zach Miner stands in reserve in case any of the other six rotation candidates falters.

Those are the things Leyland has to sort out as he builds his rotation for 2009. Last season opened with three southpaws in the rotation. This year there could none.

Questions abound in the bullpen. Can Lyon close for more than two months? Will Rodney be able to get his fastball over and be successful as either the setup man or closer?

The manager will be on the watch to see if Zumaya can breach 40 innings without getting hurt. And he'll be trying to find a handful of other pitchers to put in the bullpen, one of the worst in baseball last year.

Leyland thinks he has a lot of the pieces in place. But he doesn't know.

That's his biggest project of the spring, finding those things out. Because if his 12 pitchers don't do well this year, he -- and many of them -- won't be around in 2010.
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PostSubject: Re: From the FSN Daily Wire   Tue Mar 03, 2009 7:04 pm

Leyland: Bonderman is fine, will return to mound
Associated Press

Updated: March 2, 2009, 7:56 PM EST
LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) - Tigers manager Jim Leyland said starting pitcher Jeremy Bonderman, who was sent back to Detroit due to medical concerns about his pitching shoulder, was fine and will be back on the mound before the team goes north in about five weeks.

Leyland spoke Monday after hearing reports that Bonderman was on his way back to Florida.

Bonderman, who hasn't pitched in a game all spring, had shoulder stiffness and Leyland said the right-hander was sent back to his regular physician in Detroit only as a precautionary measure.

Bonderman was sent back to Detroit early Monday morning after a routine examination.

Bonderman went 3-4 with a 4.29 ERA last season, but was on the disabled list from June 7 through the rest of the season with a circulatory condition that resulted in numbness to his throwing hand.

Leyland said Bonderman won't be rushed and that he would be happy if Bonderman is ready to get back to his normal routine in two weeks. He said there were no major issues and that after some minor medication and any sign of pain goes away,
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PostSubject: Re: From the FSN Daily Wire   Thu Mar 05, 2009 8:56 am

Updated: March 4, 2009, 11:20 PM EST

--LHP Dontrelle Willis walked only one batter Feb. 27 in his first exhibition appearance but was shaky in his 43-pitch outing. Willis allowed three hits but faced nine batters and failed to retire any of the three he faced in his second inning. He gave up a single, a four-pitch walk and hit a batter on an 0-and-2 pitch in his 25-strike appearance. He gave up two earned runs in the third, and two of the batters he left on in the fourth came around to score. Willis, who walked 38 batters in the 24 innings he worked for Detroit last season, is battling LHP Nate Robertson and RHP Zach Miner for one open spot in the Detroit rotation. "It was a tough day," Willis said. "But I like where I was in the strike zone, and I felt confident with all my pitches. I was happy with everything but the (pitching) line. I felt strong to the end."
--RHP Edwin Jackson was sharp Feb. 26 in his first spring game. Acquired in an offseason deal with Tampa Bay, Jackson pitched two hitless innings and struck out three batters against Washington. He walked one. "He's got an outstanding arm," manager Jim Leyland said. "He's got electric stuff." "Outstanding," C Matt Treanor said. "Great velocity, and his sinker was moving a ton." Jackson will fill one rotation spot for Detroit.

--LHP Nate Robertson gave up a run Feb. 26 in his first exhibition game but didn't let things get out of hand, as happened so often last season. Robertson, one of three pitchers contending for one rotation spot, gave up a run in the third inning but worked a 1-2-3 fourth. "His sinker was really sharp, above average," C Matt Treanor said. "He gave up a run but didn't collapse. He kept his mental edge." Robertson gave up a soft infield single to shortstop to open the third, followed by an RBI double. He issued a one-out walk but got a groundout, and then CF Ryan Raburn made a nice play on a popup in center to end the inning.

-- RHP Jeremy Bonderman, who was scratched from his scheduled Feb. 28 exhibition game start, will return to Detroit for testing. The team is attempting to find the cause of his recent shoulder stiffness, and the circulatory problem he experienced last year is prompting extra diligence.

Bonderman should be able to resume pitching in mid-March, manager Jim Leyland said.

--DH Gary Sheffield missed Detroit's first two exhibition games because of swelling in his left elbow after being hit by a pitch by RHP Chris Lambert during batting practice. Sheffield took batting practice and said he could have played in either of the first two exhibitions but manager Jim Leyland held him out as a precaution. "I'm fine," Sheffield said. "It's just stiff. I could play if I had to, but it's better to just let the swelling go down."

--CF Curtis Granderson made the final roster of Team USA for the World Baseball Classic. Normally a center fielder, Granderson volunteered to play one of the corner spots so Cleveland's Grady Sizemore could play center. But now it appears Granderson will get to play center field after all because Sizemore was forced to pull out after suffering a groin injury in training camp with Cleveland.

--LHP Fu-Te Ni worked a scoreless inning Feb. 25 in Detroit's exhibition opener, his only appearance for the Tigers before joining the Taiwan entry in the World Baseball Classic. Ni was signed by Detroit and given a non-roster invitation to spring training. He was considered a longshot to make the opening roster as he makes the tough twin adjustments to both the United States culture and to baseball in America.

--RHP Rick Porcello allowed a run in his first appearance in a Tigers uniform. Porcello, Detroit's top choice in the 2007 draft, is only two months past being a teenager. He worked the fifth inning Feb. 26 and allowed a leadoff single plus an RBI single before striking out the next two batters. "I was rushing myself the first couple of batters," Porcello said. "It was natural, my first time back -- the adrenalin was flowing." "I'm pleased he didn't get more hyper," C Matt Treanor said. "As far as his stuff, it's definitely as advertised. His sinker is outstanding."

BY THE NUMBERS: 7 -- Players from the Tigers' organization who will be participating in the World Baseball Classic. CF Curtis Granderson was selected for the United States team. 1B Miguel Cabrera, LF Carlos Guillen, RHP Armando Galarraga and RF Magglio Ordonez were named to Team Venezuela. LHP Fu-Te Ni, a non-roster left-hander, will play for Taiwan, and minor league C Andrew Graham will play for Australia.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's common sense. For obvious reasons, you don't want to take any chances. He's probably going to be a little bit behind, so we're just making sure he's not trying to overexert. He wasn't too happy about it. We have to do what's best for him and best for the ballclub. This guy's a big, big part of our ballclub." -- Manager Jim Leyland on why he scrubbed recuperating RHP Jeremy Bonderman from his scheduled Feb. 28 start. When Bonderman reported some shoulder stiffness, Leyland said he would work him a pair of 15-pitch simulated innings on the side rather than have him work two innings of an exhibition game. Bonderman had a blood clot and a rib removed in two separate surgeries last summer.
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PostSubject: Re: From the FSN Daily Wire   Tue Mar 10, 2009 5:59 pm

Pedro must pitch well at WBC to score new deal
by Ken Rosenthal

Updated: March 10, 2009, 3:15 PM EST

Pedro Martinez was lights-out against the Netherlands Saturday, and he might be lights-out again if he pitches for the Dominican Republic in their rematch with the dastardly Dutch again on Tuesday.
But for Martinez to draw serious interest from a major-league team, he will need to pitch well against stronger competition in the second round of the World Baseball Classic, assuming the D.R. qualifies.
Is the Price right?

The Rays' decision on whether to open with left-hander David Price their fifth starter or send him to Class AAA ranks as one of the most intriguing of the spring.

Among the variables:

Price's progress. The Rays want Price to improve his changeup, refine his fastball-slider command and show that he can repeat his delivery consistently.
Price, 23, already has proven that he can succeed out of the bullpen, but the Rays want him to meet a higher standard before inserting him into their rotation.

Jason Hammel and Jeff Niemann. Both righties are out of options. The Rays can protect their depth by putting one of them in the rotation, one in the bullpen and starting Price in the minors.
Trading Hammel or Niemann is another possibility. Either could bring decent value, given the high number of teams that need starting pitching and the small number of quality young arms on the market.

Price's innings. Price threw only 129 1/3 in his first professional season, including his postseason work. The Rays envision him developing into a 220-inning horse, but only after a methodical buildup.
The best way to guard against Price increasing his workload too dramatically might be to start him in the minors and limit his innings so he can be strong for September and possibly October.

The rest of the Rays' rotation. The Rays previously have not skipped their fifth starter, preferring to build in extra rest for young pitchers such as Scott Kazmir, James Shields and Matt Garza by taking advantage of days off.
Their philosophy might change, however, if Price is the fifth starter.

The Rays could hold Price's innings down by skipping his turn when the opportunity arises and using their other starters on more normal rest.

Shields, coming off back-to-back 215-inning seasons, might be ready to handle such a load, but the Rays still could need to find breathers for Kazmir and Garza on occasion.

Price's arbitration clock. Not a factor.
The Rays would need to stash Price in the minors for several months to delay his arbitration eligibility. They're not about to pull such a stunt when their goal is to return to the postseason, and they've already developed a pattern of signing young players long-term.

Baseball executives haven't forgotten that Martinez looked terrible while going 0-3 with a 7.77 ERA in four starts last September. And as teams balk at giving him big money, his latest comeback might end before it starts.

On the other hand, a number of teams remain short on starting pitching, and all Martinez needs is one to give him a chance.

Martinez, 37, has said he would prefer retiring to his fishing boat rather than accepting a deal similar to the one-year, $1 million contract that free-agent left-hander Tom Glavine signed with the Braves.

The deal Martinez wants, one executive says, is similar to the one the Red Sox gave righty John Smoltz — a $5.5 million base salary with $5 million in incentives.

You can see Pedro's logic: Smoltz, 41, is coming off shoulder surgery, while Martinez is more than two years removed his last shoulder operation. Martinez made 20 starts last season, Smoltz five.

Still, there is no question that Martinez is a diminished pitcher.

"His stuff is just OK," the executive says. "He will need to have the plus-plus Pedro command to help a team out."

Martinez might show such command and even bursts of increased velocity in his brief WBC stints. But his case will become more convincing if he shuts down Team USA or Puerto Rico in the next round in Miami.

Even then, the Dodgers might be the only club with anything close to $5.5 million available, and their appetite for risk is minimal. Perhaps no team has had more salary on the disabled list in recent seasons.

Martinez would fit with the Marlins and has told the team he would consider playing in Miami if he cannot get the deal he wants from another team, according to a major-league source. The Marlins, though, seem more likely to sign catcher Ivan Rodriguez, and it's doubtful they would land both free agents.

The Indians made runs at both Martinez and Smoltz before trading for infielder Mark DeRosa and could renew their interest if Martinez lowered his price. Martinez, however, might not want to pitch in cooler weather.

The Mets, as always, remain a possibility; Livan Hernandez is throwing well, but two of their other fifth-starter candidates, Tim Redding and Freddy Garcia, have been decidedly unimpressive.

Several other clubs in need of a starting pitcher — including the A's, Orioles, Nationals and Brewers — do not view Martinez as a fit.

A-ROD I: No replacement necessary

Alex Rodriguez will miss no more than 23 games if he returns from arthroscopic hip surgery by May 1, further reducing the chances that the Yankees will acquire a stopgap at third base.

The team will not pay a high price in players or dollars for a 4- to 6- week solution. General manager Brian Cashman says Rodriguez will return at 85 to 90 percent minimum, and such a player is "still an All-Star."

Still, the Yankees are forever looking to improve and surely will explore possible upgrades over utility man Cody Ranson, an above-average defender and below-average hitter, albeit one with power.

The player market in March consists not just of free agents and trade possibilities, but players on minor-league contracts who opt out for major-league jobs and players who are out of minor-league options.

A-ROD II: No insurance money coming

Rodriguez's decision to undergo arthroscopic surgery immediately and postpone a second, more serious procedure until the end of the season almost certainly will prevent the Yankees from collecting insurance on his $32 million salary.

The Yankees do not discuss insurance, but most baseball policies require players to miss 90 consecutive days before a team can collect a specified percentage of his salary.

Rodriguez would have been sidelined four months if he had undergone the more serious procedure, enabling the Yankees to receive insurance benefits.

However, he will miss no more than 63 straight days if his recovery is on the high end of his doctor's projection of six to nine weeks.


2010 Free Agents: Restricted or not?

The free-agent contracts of both Dodgers left fielder Manny Ramirez and A's shortstop Orlando Cabrera include clauses that prohibit their respective clubs from offering salary arbitration if the players are again Type A free agents.

The clause ensures that both players will not be restricted by draft-pick compensation in free agency — a detail that is particularly meaningful for Cabrera, whose market was hurt by the reluctance of teams to forfeit a high draft pick as part of the price for signing him.

Two other free agents who signed one-year deals — Dodgers second baseman Orlando Hudson and Angels outfielder Bobby Abreu — did not negotiate the same clause into their new deals and will be subject to draft-pick compensation.

Hudson likely would receive an arbitration offer, but he will not be coming off wrist surgery. His injury hurt his market more than the draft pick; the Dodgers ultimately sacrificed the 17th overall pick in the draft when they signed him for $3.38 million.

The interest in Hudson should be much greater if he re-enters free agency after a healthy, productive season. The compensation issue also will be meaningless if he signs an extension with the Dodgers.

Abreu is a slightly different case. The Yankees did not offer him arbitration, and he wound up taking a paycut from $16 million to $5 million even though he was not attached to a draft pick.

Abreu's representatives believe that he might benefit from an arbitration offer — he will be 35 next offseason and could get closer to his old salary through a non-guaranteed arbitration contract than he would as a free agent.

Then again, the Angels might decline to offer Abreu arbitration and pass on the draft picks, knowing they could get him or a comparable outfielder at a lower price in what promises to be another flooded market.

Ramirez and Cabrera would start in stronger positions than Hudson and Abreu for one simple reason: Generally speaking, it is better to be an unrestricted free agent than to have draft-pick compensation attached.

Beimel update

Free-agent left-hander Joe Beimel is holding out for a one-year, $2.5 million contract, according to two general managers. One GM says of the reliever, "He must have a nice summer job planned."


Beimel's agent, Joe Sroba, denied that the pitcher is locked in on $2.5 million.

"That is not a true statement," he said. "It doesn't mean we're looking for more or looking for less. We haven't been that specific.

"All I'm looking for is a team to be aggressive and sincere in their pursuit of Beimel. When we sense that, we'll probably cut a deal. But we haven't sensed it yet."

The Dodgers and A's are among the teams that have pursued Beimel. New teams have entered the mix and other clubs are circling back to express renewed interest, Sroba said.

The White Sox, who have not been previously linked to the free-agent left-handed relievers, have shown recent interest in Will Ohman, according to a major-league source. The Dodgers also have been active on Ohman.

Lincecum: The fourth Jonas?

New Giants left-hander Randy Johnson, 45, gets a kick out of teammate Tim Lincecum, 24, saying the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner "looks like one of the Jonas Brothers."

Lincecum is far too cool to be a fan of a band manufactured by Disney, but he professes ignorance when asked about the musical abilities of Kevin, Joe and Nick Jonas (insert female shrieks here).

"I haven't listened to 'em," Lincecum said.

What does he listen to?

"I like all kinds of music," Lincecum said. "You hear songs on the radio, then you go home and download 'em. I listen to R&B and hip-hop, mix in some country, rock and alternative."
Contreras and Colon, who each served 40 pitches to minor leaguers, are scheduled to throw BP again Thursday and could make their first Cactus League appearances on Saturday.

Contreras, according to White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper, might become the "poster boy" for pitchers recovering from a ruptured Achilles' tendon. Colon, who pitched for the White Sox in 2003, is coming off surgery to remove bone chips in his elbow.

"He's one of the best guys I've ever had at slicing it, dicing it, cutting it, two-seaming it," Cooper said. "We know he has pitchability. We know he has guts. It comes down to keeping him healthy.

"He's a matador. He's not afraid of the fight. He used to ask me to match him up with the best. He would want to pitch against (Roger) Clemens and (Pedro) Martinez."

Colon, who turns 36 on May 24, pitched a career-high 242 innings for the Sox in '03. As the Sox's projected No. 5 starter, he would be asked to carry much less of a load.

Around the horn

The A's lost their second-round pick to the White Sox for signing Cabrera. The clause prohibiting them from offering arbitration to Cabrera will prevent them from getting picks back in return; however, they stand to gain two selections if they offer arbitration to left fielder Matt Holliday, a likely Type A . . .

Red Sox right-hander Junichi Tazawa, 22, already looks like a keeper. "He's like a junior Dice-K," one rival executive said. "Every one of his pitches comes from the exact same arm slot, and he commands them." Tazawa's fastball can be straight, but the executive believes that his command and deception could help make him an above-average starter . . .

Jason Kendall started 149 games at catcher last season, the most at the position since Gary Carter made 151 starts with the Expos in 1982. Kendall, who turns 35 on June 26, said he experienced no ill effects. "I was fine," the Brewers' catcher said. "I'm not big like Varitek or Posada. Knock on wood, I'm not putting that much strain on my knees." Kendall is 6-feet, 180 pounds . . .

Giants manager Bruce Bochy checked in on the Australia-Mexico game Sunday night, only to see his former bullpen catcher with the Padres, Ben Risinger, go 2-for-5 with a homer and three RBIs in Australia's 17-7 victory. The Australian team features three members of the Phillies' 40-man roster: shortstop Brad Harman, 23; right-hander Drew Naylor, 22; and catcher Joel Naughton, 22 . . .

Giants first baseman Travis Ishikawa is "on a mission," pitcher Barry Zito said, and Bochy acknowledged that he is more comfortable with his first-base situation than he was last spring when Ishikawa and Dan Ortmeier were competing for the job. Ortmeier was an outfielder trying to learn the position, while Ishikawa is an above-average defender. Bochy believes Ishikawa can hit .260 to .270 with 20 homers . . .
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PostSubject: Re: From the FSN Daily Wire   Wed Mar 11, 2009 5:22 pm

Detroit Tigers Inside Pitch
by Sports Xchange


Updated: March 11, 2009, 12:00 AM EST
Every day Jeremy Bonderman can't pitch and every time Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson struggle, it enhances the unlikely chances of a 20-year-old one-year pro, Rick Porcello, making Detroit's Opening Day rotation.

And every time Joel Zumaya feels a twinge in his right shoulder, it opens the door a little farther for a hard-throwing relief pitcher with only 14 games of minor league experience, 2008 top draft choice RHP Ryan Perry, to squeeze onto the Tigers' Opening Day roster.
It isn't as if the Tigers' pitching staff is filled with Hall of Famers, either. This is a starting rotation that overworked a bullpen in 2008 to the point where it was among the worst in baseball.

And the starter with the most victories (right-hander Armando Galarraga, 13) wasn't even with the club when spring training ended in 2008.

Do you think Jim Leyland, a manager of enormous integrity and pride who is not under contract for 2010, would have any hesitation at all in running even a 15-year-old out to the mound if he thought that youngster was his best chance of getting hitters out? Of course not.

There might be some interesting conversations between Leyland and general manager Dave Dombrowski if Porcello continues to look to be at least the equal of struggling left-handers Willis and Robertson as spring training winds down.

Even though Willis and Robertson each have two more seasons of big guaranteed money coming to them, it's difficult to imagine Leyland running either one of them out to the mound if he were to get thumped two out of every three starts.

"If they're so talented, though, that they are the best we've got, then you have to have some conversation," Leyland said. "There are so many things that weigh into it, such as what we need, what's going to make us the best team and what's going to be best for their careers.

"So I'm not writing either one of those guys off, and I'm certainly not putting either one on the team right now. I'm just telling you the truth. Do they have a chance? They have a chance.

"Would it be the best thing? I don't know. I'm not sure. I don't know how it will play out. But I think it will actually put us in a pretty good dilemma. If something makes you stop and look, at some point it could make you stop and think."

Even were Porcello to make the team, there's no way the organization would let him pitch anything approaching 200 innings, not when he just turned 20 and his entire pro experience consists of the 125 innings he worked last season in the Florida State League (when his 2.66 ERA was the best in the league).

He was on a five-inning, 75-pitch limit last season, and the preliminary thinking was to let him work up to 100 pitches per start this year.

Even though Robertson, Willis and Zach Miner need to start along with Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson, the absence of Galarraga (with Team Venezuela) and Bonderman's delay getting into action because of a nerve issue in his shoulder meant Leyland could get extra looks at Porcello in a role to which he is accustomed.

If he continues to look good, who's to say Leyland might not get creative and have Porcello start with someone like Miner picking him up after the fifth inning?

There will be opportunities to skip the rookie during the season, too, to keep his innings in the 140-160 range.

Then there's Perry, who followed pick Porcello, the Tigers' No. 1 pick in 2007, as Detroit's top draft choice last summer.

He's not a prospect who pitched all his life; he wasn't even a full-time reliever last year. Yet Perry has that sin-covering asset all relievers need -- a 100-mph fastball. He allowed enough hits to make a manager nervous last year (15 in 12 high Class A innings) but he also averaged a strikeout an inning for Lakeland.

Zumaya returned to Detroit on Friday to have another sore shoulder checked out. Whether he's healthy or not, Leyland (and Dombrowski) are attracted to pitchers who can erase their mistakes and inexperience with unhittable pitches.

One factor that takes the prospects of Porcello and Perry making the Tigers out of the realm of fantasy is that Leyland gambled on two talented but unproven youngsters in 2006 -- Verlander and Zumaya.

The Tigers went from awful in 2005 to the World Series the next year, with Verlander and Zumaya playing big roles.

In the end, the way others pitch will play as big a role as how Perry and Porcello pitch in determining whether the heralded yet inexperienced pitchers can duplicate the role that Verlander and Zumaya played for Detroit in 2006.
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PostSubject: Re: From the FSN Daily Wire   Thu Mar 12, 2009 5:19 pm

Detroit Tigers Notes, Quotes
by Sports Xchange

Updated: March 11, 2009, 11:39 PM EST
--OF Marcus Thames will be sidelined for one week due to a strained oblique muscle. The ailment is not considered serious, according to manager Jim Leyland.
--RHP Rick Porcello is scheduled to start again Monday in his longshot bid to make Detroit's roster in his second full pro season. Detroit's top choice in the 2007 draft is starting in the absence of RHP Armando Galarraga, pitching for the Venezuelan team in the WBC and because RHP Jeremy Bonderman is coming back slowly from an early sore shoulder. "Is he a candidate to make the team?" manager Jim Leyland asked. "Yes, he is. He is a candidate. He's the real deal. Does he have a leg up or leg down on a job? Nobody does. I'm just watching. Like I've said about all the guys, I'm just watching. But is he a guy about whom we've already said, 'He definitely won't make it.' No, we've not done that. So he's a candidate. Longshot? Probably." Porcello allowed a run in his first appearance, in relief, then pitched two scoreless in a start. He maintains a calm, professional demeanor both on the mound and in the clubhouse. "My biggest challenge is to calm myself down so I can be consistent," Porcello said. "I've got a lot to learn and a lot of guys to look up to. I just need to step off the mound and take a deep breath when that happens. Justin (Verlander) does that a lot."
--RHP Jeremy Bonderman has returned to playing light games of catch after being scrubbed from his first scheduled exhibition appearance because of right shoulder stiffness. The Tigers sent Bonderman back to Detroit on March 2 so doctors could examine his shoulder and compare to earlier tests. The diagnosis was that a nerve disrupted by last year's surgery to remove a blood clot is still healing. "When that nerve heals all the way up, I'll be OK," said Bonderman, who is taking anti-inflammatory medicine. "But I'm told nerves don't heal the same on people, and so it could be a couple days or weeks." He played catch Thursday and Friday but no timetable was set for his return to the mound. "I'd say he's a little bit behind, but not anything to really concern you at this time," manager Jim Leyland said. Bonderman reported no pain from his second throwing session and was scheduled to throw a bullpen session off a mound during the weekend. "I threw at 60 feet last time, at 90 feet this time," he said. "No pain at all."

--RHP Ryan Perry pitched scoreless innings in his first two exhibition appearances and showed management why it drafted him No. 1 in 2008. "I can see where he might be a bull in the china shop once in a while," manager Jim Leyland said. "But that's potentially dominating stuff. He has a chance to be real special." Perry worked between seasons on hiding the ball a little longer so it would be more difficult to pick up his high-90s fastball and also worked on his other pitches. Perry is much more animated than fellow rookie RHP Rick Porcello but says that's just the way he is. And because he's a relief pitcher, he feels it helps him to get amped for appearances. He is not expected to make the Opening Day roster but is a possibility as long as he keeps putting up scoreless innings.

--RHP Joel Zumaya was to take a couple days off from throwing after he reported feeling more than ordinary soreness in his right shoulder following his mid-week appearance. He was sent to Pensacola, Fla., on Friday to be examined by a traveling Dr. James Andrews, who found no damage, only ordinary spring soreness. Zumaya is coming off two years of injuries. Zumaya, who had been very sharp through mid-week, told the club he was feeling a different kind of pain than the shoulder separation that shut him down last August. Pitching Coach Rick Knapp said it was more a feeling of an impingement. "It's all precautionary," Knapp said. "We've got extra time this spring." Knapp and Tigers' trainer Kevin Rand said they were not concerned at this point about Zumaya's ability to be ready to open the season. Zumaya had been easing back on his fastball -- keeping it in the high 90s as opposed to trying for triple digits -- in an effort to gain more control. He also was throwing his curve and changeup more often. Manager Jim Leyland said Zumaya "threw more good breaking balls (in a March 4 game against Florida Southern College) than he did the whole season last year. I'm not going to get carried away, but he looks like a million bucks right now. If he's healthy, he's going to be good. It's that simple. He had his full spread working for him -- 77, 87 and 97," Knapp said after the outing. "He threw one change at 77, some breaking balls at 87 and a couple of pitches at 97. That's a perfect spread for him."

--OF Clete Thomas is targeting March 23 as the date he can return to the outfield because his arm has recovered enough to let him throw the ball. Thomas has been limited to being the designated hitter because of Tommy John surgery sixth months ago but has been told he would be able to throw well enough soon to avoid damage to his arm. The Tigers think all the workouts he has done in rehabilitation have given him more bat speed and more strength. He could challenge for a spot on the roster at some point this year. "The ball's jumping off my bat a little more," Thomas said. "I did a lot of squats, dumbbell bench presses, dead lifts and core strengthening." Manager Jim Leyland said: "He's stronger and his bat speed has gotten that much better."

--C Gerald Laird had to come out of Detroit's exhibition game on March 5 because of a mild left quadriceps strain. Laird, who hit a triple in an early exhibition game, was running out a two-run single in the third inning on March 5 when he felt the strain. He was to be evaluated on a daily basis but the injury was not believed to be serious. The Tigers obviously will let the injury get fully healed before putting him behind the plate again. His backup, Matt Trainor, and other Detroit catchers would fill in.

--2B Will Rhymes was called "a dirtballer" on March 4 by Manager Jim Leyland, who also predicted the smallish second baseman would play in the majors. Rhymes, 25, batted .306 at Double-A Erie last summer to seriously enhance his status. Generously listed as 5-foot-9 and 155, Rhymes also had a solid fall in the Arizona Fall League. "I think Rhymes will play in the big leagues," Leyland said after playing Rhymes in an exhibition game. "He's got a short, quick (batting) stroke." Rhymes helps himself by hitting left-handed, running extremely well and not striking out. He was a 27th-round draft pick from William & Mary in 2005. "Don't accuse me of being Sparky," said Leyland, noting that Detroit's Hall of Fame manager would annually chose a player to pump up each spring only to see that player fade away quickly. "I like what I see."

--OF Brent Clevlen is playing against a stacked deck, but is putting all that out of his mind as he bids to impress Tiger management. Clevlen is out of options but seemingly is crowded out of the Detroit outfield because of his inability to make consistent contact and also by the fact he's one of many right-handed hitting outfielders in the organization. "He's been having a pretty good spring so far," manager Jim Leyland said. "At some point, it will be decision time." He has struck out 30 times in 73 sporadic at-bats for Detroit over the last two seasons.

--INF Jeff Larish might not make Detroit's Opening Day roster primarily because it can option him back to the minors, but he continues to impress with his left-handed power bat and his professional approach to the game. Larish has been playing a lot of first base while 1B Miguel Cabrera is away with Team Venezuela, but has also seen action at third and continues to take fly balls in the outfield. "I really like his personality," Leyland said. "He's a very good student of the game. He's one of those quiet, competitive types. I'm a big fan of his. He's smart. He knows versatility is important. I really like him. I like him a lot." He leads Detroit in spring home runs but is slightly behind UT Ryan Raburn in the battle for the last bench spot because Raburn is a much better outfielder. "He knows what's going on," Leyland said of Larish, noting his pre-game workouts in the outfield. "Right now, he's adequate at third base. I don't think we can ever expect him to be a great third baseman. I don't think he's gonna be a Gold Glover. But I think Jeff Larish definitely will play in the big leagues. Whether it's this year with us, I don't know."

BY THE NUMBERS: 13.5 -- Average number of at-bats between home runs for reserve OF Marcus Thames, one of the best such figures in baseball. Yet Thames is unable to become a regular in the Detroit lineup due to a number of factors. He is behind Gary Sheffield as Detroit's defense, is backing up Carlos Guillen in left and can't play the other outfield positions on a regular basis.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "There's a spot for any good pitcher that throws strikes, commands the strike zone, makes pitches and gets the hitters out. There are 12 spots for those guys." -- Tigers' manager Jim Leyland on the possibility of one of Detroit's younger, inexperienced pitchers making the Detroit roster this spring
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PostSubject: Re: From the FSN Daily Wire   Tue Mar 17, 2009 5:50 pm

Leyland isn't sure when Zumaya will be ready
Associated Press

Updated: March 16, 2009, 4:49 PM EST
LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) - Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland isn't sure whether injury-plagued reliever Joel Zumaya will be ready for opening day.
"I have no predictions," Leyland said Monday.
A day earlier, Leyland said Zumaya probably would not be ready for the start of the regular season on April 6.

Zumaya is a talented but injury-prone 24-year-old power-pitching right-hander who has missed much of the past two seasons. He was scratched from an intrasquad game Saturday because of a neck cramp.

"He feels better," Leyland said. "I'll leave it at that."

Zumaya's best season came in 2006, when he was 6-3 with a 1.94 ERA in 62 appearances to help the Tigers reach the World Series.

Since then, injuries have been a major issue.

In 2007, he tore a tendon in his right middle finger in April. Later that year, he hurt his right shoulder in an accident at his home and didn't pitch the remainder of the season after undergoing reconstructive surgery.

Last year, Zumaya appeared in 21 games and was 0-2 with a 3.47 ERA before sustaining a season-ending fractured shoulder in August.

"Right now, we've really gotten into a gray area," Leyland said.
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PostSubject: Re: From the FSN Daily Wire   Tue Mar 17, 2009 8:11 pm

Just release Zumaya already and be done with it!


bow Z. Miner
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PostSubject: Re: From the FSN Daily Wire   Tue Mar 17, 2009 8:15 pm

Yup.


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PostSubject: Re: From the FSN Daily Wire   Tue Mar 17, 2009 8:21 pm

bobrob2004 wrote:
Just release Zumaya already and be done with it!


No
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PostSubject: Re: From the FSN Daily Wire   Tue Mar 17, 2009 8:22 pm

Tigers might regret releasing Zumaya

He is still young and full of potential


He just got to stay healthy and that is a problem for him
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PostSubject: Re: From the FSN Daily Wire   Wed Mar 18, 2009 7:34 pm

Detroit Tigers Notes, Quotes

by Sports Xchange


Updated: March 18, 2009, 5:00 AM EST
--RHP Joel Zumaya is out indefinitely because of shoulder soreness. He is expected to begin the season on the disabled list.

--DH Gary Sheffield doesn't have to prove himself in the spring -- yet. That doesn't mean he doesn't take the fact he had only one slovenly single in his first 16 exhibition game at-bats seriously. Sheffield worked hard with hitting coach Lloyd McClendon to make an adjustment that allowed him to hit two home runs on March 11. "He has his hands up higher to start with, so he can take the bat right to the ball," manager Jim Leyland said, a fact Sheffield noticed in video comparisons dating back to early 2007. Sheffield said he had dropped his hands to compensate for shoulder pain after injuring himself in an outfield collision with 2B Placido Polanco in mid-2007. He had failed to return to his old style after the pain left him late last season. "I felt something was wrong, something was off," Sheffield said. "I wasn't squaring up on balls like I would like to. I want to be capable of hitting the ball out every time. When I took that first swing, it felt good. My head was on the pitch. That set the tone. But I can't sit back and say, 'It's there now.' I've got to perfect it. And the way to do that is repetition, to have your hands right on every swing. But I was surprised at the comfort I felt with this right away."

--RHP Justin Verlander said a softer landing is making his fastball harder to hit. The fact it's messing up his control a tad isn't a big concern. "I kind of got caught in-between," he said. "I've been working on landing softer and not as stiff on my front leg. It's different. If you're gonna change anything, you've got to be consistent in repeating it. But it has cleared my body up, freed me up. The ball was jumping out of my hand the best it has in a long time." Walks and high pitch counts have been a concern since last season but Verlander feels getting rid of a stiff leg finish, detected through watching video, will solve that. "I feel real good about him," manager Jim Leyland said. "I'm not worried about him at all. He threw the ball very well (in his last start). It's a project and a process. He's got plenty of time to get that worked out."

--LF Marcus Thames could be out of action until mid-week after straining an abdominal muscle in Detroit's March 10 game against the St. Louis Cardinals. Thames made a running catch late in the game and wrenched the muscle as he tried to make a quick throw. Manager Jim Leyland said Thames probably will be out a week, noting there was no significant damage. Thames will be Detroit's backup left fielder, DH and top power pinch-hitter this season.

--C Matt Treanor was expected to return to action early this week after missing time related to sports hernia surgery he underwent Oct. 2 in Philadelphia. "It's real tight with some soreness," said Treanor, examined March 9 after experiencing the discomfort while catching. "If it responds to treatment by the weekend, we will amp it up to resume activity," Treanor said. "Or we will take the next step, whatever that might be." Treanor will serve as the backup to C Gerald Laird this season.

--RHP Juan Rincon is making a strong bid for a spot on Detroit's staff as a non-roster invitee. Rincon had allowed only two hits in his first six spring innings, all scoreless. More important, Rincon was showing a much better slider with a fastball that looked more like the one he was throwing during his good seasons with Minnesota. Rincon fell off two years ago and pitched for three organizations last season before becoming a free agent and signing with Detroit.

--3B Yurendell De Caster, hero of the Netherlands' second upset of the Dominican Republic in the WBC, is a Detroit farmhand who has yet to make an appearance of any kind with the Tigers' organization. De Caster played third and hit cleanup and his hard-hit ground ball (ruled an error) to first produced the winning run in the 11th inning of a 2-1 victory that eliminated the heavily favored Dominicans from the tournament. De Caster has yet to report to the Tigers after the native of Curacao signed with Detroit on Dec. 23. De Caster is expected to compete for a roster spot with Triple-A Toledo or Double-A Erie.

--RHP Zach Miner's status hasn't changed. He needs to prepare himself to start or relieve with the Tigers. Miner allowed three runs to St. Louis on seven hits over three innings. His ERA after his first 10 spring innings was 9.00. Manager Jim Leyland said Miner "needs to prepare himself for relief. When I say that, I'm not tipping a hand here. We think he can start and do a decent job. He hasn't shown, for sure, that he can relieve as effective as he should. He needs to do that. That's not any indication that he's not going to be the fifth starter. He's got to learn how to make the adjustment to pitch out of the bullpen." Miner played high school ball at Palm Beach Gardens and was working in front of family and friends when he pitched against St. Louis. "You are going to have days when you go out there and you just don't feel good, and it's everything you can do not to get knocked out in the third," Miner said. "Then the days you do feel good and don't take advantage of it. That's the worst. That's kind of how I felt." Miner said he will be disappointed if he does not start but will accept going to the bullpen. "I'm just hoping to have some good outings here at the end," he said.

--LHP Macay McBride felt stiff warming up for a "B" game stint and was told to rest his arm for a week. McBride is about 11 months removed from Tommy John surgery but examination showed there was no new problem. "I feel like when I get over this hump, everything's going to be great," said McBride, a longshot to make the Tigers at this point. McBride has thrown two scoreless innings in Grapefruit League games. He may open the season on the disabled list.

--LHP Fu-Te Ni has rejoined the Tigers after pitching for Chinese Taipei during the World Baseball Classic. Ni worked an inning early last week for Detroit and may make other appearances but is expected at this point to open the season in the minors, probably at the Double-A level.

--INF Ramon Santiago is likely to get more starts than in previous years with Detroit, according to his manager. "He'll have more playing time at shortstop than you think," Jim Leyland said, noting that Adam Everett is still the regular. "(Santiago is) a nice player. He's improved his hitting. He has a nice, accurate arm. He's a switch-hitter, which means on days Everett doesn't play he throws another left-hand (bat) in there. He's a good fit for us."

BY THE NUMBERS: 66,163 -- Single-game tickets sold March 7, third-highest total in the 10-year history of Comerica Park, when they went on sale for the first time this year. Detroit sold 177,000 last year and 76,000 the year before. Tickets for Opening Day, April 10, against the Texas Rangers, sold out within the first hour, said Ron Colangelo, vice president of communications for the Tigers. "It has been a challenge selling season tickets but they are picking up," Colangelo said.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're going to have to put it all together at the end, but I like our team a lot, to be honest with you. If (RHP Jeremy) Bonderman and (RHP Joel) Zumaya and some of those guys aren't healthy, I won't like it as much." -- Manager Jim Leyland on the competition for spots on his 12-man pitching staff.
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PostSubject: Re: From the FSN Daily Wire   Tue Mar 24, 2009 10:31 pm

Detroit Tigers Inside Pitch

by Sports Xchange

Updated: March 24, 2009, 1:00 AM EST
Jeff Larish has gone from no shot to longshot to a player with a reasonable chance to make Detroit's roster on Opening Day.

Larish made enough of an impression last summer to convince his manager that he could be a useful pinch-hitter and at least a part-time player. Manager Jim Leyland said Larish had a chance to challenge utilityman Ryan Raburn for the last seat on the Tigers' bench.
Being a left-handed hitter with power is a big plus for Larish because nobody else on Detroit's bench provides that. His ability to play the corner infield positions and now the corner outfield spots is also in his favor.

But the biggest factor working against the Arizona State product is that he can't play center field. Leyland needs someone on his roster with the ability to spill Curtis Granderson on occasion.

Outfielder Brent Clevlen, who is out of options, fills that need -- but he bats right-handed.

Outfielder Clete Thomas can play all the outfield positions and bats left-handed, but he's coming off Tommy John surgery and had been kept out of the outfield through March 20.

Detroit hopes to get him in the outfield in the next week, but his arm will be questionable for another month or so.

One option available to Leyland that the manager has shot down is to let third baseman Brandon Inge serve as the backup to Granderson, which he did on a handful of occasions last season.

But last year Inge was a man without a regular position, whereas now he's the regular third baseman.

Infielder Ramon Santiago might be able to play center field in a pinch, but he has no experience at the position.

General manager Dave Dombrowski said recently that Granderson's backup is already on the roster in the event Larish makes the team.

"We have a plan for that," Dombrowski said. "But we are not releasing that at this time."

Said Larish: "I'm very grateful for playing different positions in college," Larish said. "That prepared me for what I'm going through now."

Larish played third base his freshman season, first base when he was a sophomore, left and right fields as a junior and was back at first during his senior season.

"However I can help my team, I'm going to do it," he said. "Look at the way Carlos Guillen has moved around, and he hasn't complained about it."

It remains likely Raburn will edge out Larish simply because he has no minor league options remaining while Larish does.

But Leyland keeps talking up Raburn as the ideal National League player because of his versatility, so a late spring deal isn't out of the question.

It would seem Larish's time is coming. It's only a matter of when.
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PostSubject: Re: From the FSN Daily Wire   Fri Mar 27, 2009 8:38 pm

Tigers reliever Zumaya likely to be sent down
Associated Press

Updated: March 26, 2009, 8:06 PM EST
LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) - Tigers manager Jim Leyland says oft-injured reliever Joel Zumaya is unlikely to start the season in Detroit.

The 24-year-old Zumaya has pitched in only one game this spring. He was considered for the closer job this season but felt soreness after an appearance on March 2 against Florida Southern College.
In 2007, Zumaya tore a tendon in his right middle finger in April. Later that year, he hurt his right shoulder in an accident at his home and didn't pitch the remainder of the season after undergoing reconstructive surgery.

Last year, Zumaya appeared in 21 games and was 0-2 with a 3.47 ERA before sustaining a season-ending fractured shoulder in August.

Leyland said Thursday "there is no time table" for Zumaya's return
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PostSubject: Re: From the FSN Daily Wire   Wed Apr 01, 2009 7:56 am

Tigers release Sheffield, who's 1 HR away from 500
Associated Press

Updated: March 31, 2009, 4:46 PM EST
LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) - Gary Sheffield's next home run will be his 500th in the major leagues.

The question is: What uniform will he be wearing when he hits it?

The Detroit Tigers released the nine-time All-Star on Tuesday, leaving him without a team as he closes in on becoming the 25th player to reach the milestone. The World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies, however, quickly called the slugger to see if there was a fit.

Sheffield left Tigers camp as the rest of his former teammates were reporting for an afternoon game against the Washington Nationals.

"I wouldn't say I'm shocked, but I am surprised," Sheffield told The Oakland Press of Pontiac. "To do this when somebody is one home run away ... I don't know how to react to it."

"Jim (Leyland) said, 'We're going to go with versatility.' When he said that word I thought to myself, 'I'm probably the most athletic guy on this team.' But they're entitled to their opinion," Sheffield said.

The 40-year-old Sheffield hit .178 in 18 spring training games this year. The designated hitter had eight hits, including five home runs, in 45 at-bats.

Philadelphia general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said the team talked to Sheffield and his agent. Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth start in the outfield, and the Phillies aren't sure whether Sheffield would agree to be a backup.

"We do not have a gauge," Amaro said. "We had a private conversation and we'll keep it private."

Any team can sign Sheffield for the $400,000 minimum, with Detroit paying the rest of his $14 million salary.

Marcus Thames, who will take Sheffield's place in the lineup as Detroit's designated hitter, was surprised by the release.

"Somebody told me he was released, and I couldn't believe it," he said. "(Miguel) Cabrera looked like he was in a state of shock."

Leyland, the Tigers manager, said he had a hard time sleeping Monday night, knowing he was going to release Sheffield.

"I lit two Marlboros at the same time," Leyland said. "I couldn't sleep. But I feel better that it's over with than I did at 3 in the morning."

Leyland said it wasn't a personality issue and still was struggling over the decision after Sheffield packed up his locker and left.

"It doesn't mean it's right, but I feel good. This thing has been eating at me. We need to be a more (versatile) team, and that's why it happened."

The slugger's stay in Detroit was a disappointing one. The team was hopeful Sheffield would be a powerful presence at the plate in the final season of the $28 million, two-year contract extension it gave him after acquiring him from the Yankees for prospects. He was hurt much of his time in Detroit.

The move came a day after the Tigers acquired outfielder Josh Anderson from Atlanta, forcing the team to make some tough decisions about its roster a week ahead of opening the season in Toronto.

"It's one of those things where you move on, you know?" Sheffield told the Detroit Free Press. "I was surprised. I thought I was getting ready for the season. I never thought that I wasn't going to be playing with the Detroit Tigers this year. It's probably a blessing."

In other moves Tuesday, the Tigers placed starting pitcher Jeremy Bonderman on the 15-day disabled list and optioned the contract of outfielder Clete Thomas to Triple-A Toledo.

The team said Bonderman's placement on the DL was retroactive to Monday as the right-hander continues to recover from shoulder surgery that sidelined him for most of last season.

Infielder Will Rhymes and outfielder Timo Perez were assigned to minor league camp.

The moves leave Detroit with 31 players remaining in camp.

Shoulder and assorted other injuries - and perhaps age - limited Sheffield to 114 games and a .225 average last year and 133 games and a .265 average two seasons ago with the Tigers.

Sheffield said he didn't need surgery in the offseason for the first time in several years, making him feel better during spring training than he has been since 2001.

His uncle, Doc Gooden, and other family members had planned to attend Detroit's season-opening series, hoping to watch him reach 500.

Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Barry Bonds, Frank Robinson and Reggie Jackson are the only players in baseball history with as many home runs as Sheffield, plus at least 2,500 hits, 1,500 RBIs and 200 stolen bases.

In All-Star games, he has represented San Diego, Florida, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta and the Yankees since making his debut two decades ago in Milwaukee.

The career .292 hitter has 1,633 RBIs, putting him 27th on the all-time list.

Sheffield said he doesn't believe his career is over.

"No," he told The Detroit News. "It ain't close."
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PostSubject: Re: From the FSN Daily Wire   Thu Apr 02, 2009 9:57 pm

Detroit Tigers Inside Pitch

by Sports Xchange


Updated: April 2, 2009, 3:00 PM EST
Three years ago, Detroit manager Jim Leyland made the startling decision to go with two rookies on his pitching staff, and right-handers Justin Verlander and Joel Zumaya sparked the team to the World Series.

There are indications Leyland might try to make history repeat itself with another bold move. He is considering the idea of having two talented but inexperienced first-round draft choices -- right-handers Rick Porcello (2007) and RHP Ryan Perry (2008) -- be a key part of this season's squad.
Whether one, both or neither of the two precocious pitchers is with Detroit when it opens the season April 6 in Toronto, it appears inevitable that both will be with the Tigers long before the All-Star break and could have significant roles before the season ends.

One of the big differences between Verlander/Zumaya in 2006 and Porcello/Perry in 2009, aside from the foundation of the club, is the question of experience.

Verlander was a former college pitcher who made two cameo starts in 2005. Zumaya had more than three seasons of minor league experience (mostly as a starter) after being drafted out of high school.

Porcello was a high school pitcher in 2007, and his pro experience consists of 125 innings last year, when he won the earned run average title in the high Class A Florida State League.

Perry, a product of Arizona's solid college program, has less than 15 innings of pro experience.

But what both have in common is uncommon ability, poise and the ability to get hitters out.

Porcello is showing that his curve and changeup need refinement, but he also has shown he knows how to keep runners off home plate. Leyland seems more comfortable with the idea of having Porcello avoid on-the-job training in the majors, but he might run out of alternatives.

Right-hander Jeremy Bonderman is healthy after his two in-season surgeries to remove a blood clot and restore circulation to his right shoulder, but his fastball was ailing. Bonderman will open the season on the disabled list as he tries to get his velocity back into the low 90s.

Left-hander Nate Robertson has taken the lead in the race for the last spot in the rotation, but he's no sure thing -- and now he has a thumb injury.

Left-hander Dontrelle Willis might have walked himself out of more chances, and he went on the disabled list due to an anxiety disorder. Leyland has more or less consigned right-hander Zach Miner to the bullpen. (Might he wind up working the last four innings of Porcello's starts?)

A mish-mash of starters last year overworked Detroit's bullpen, and after closer Todd Jones' career ended when his right shoulder broke down in August, the Tigers' season collapsed with it.

Right-hander Brandon Lyon was brought in to compete with right-hander Fernando Rodney to close games for Leyland, but the rest of the bullpen remains in flux.

Miner lost a bid to join the rotation and returned to the bullpen, and retread right-hander Juan Rincon went through the first three weeks of exhibition games unscored upon to apparently make the team.

Left-hander Bobby Seay apparently will be the only southpaw in the bullpen.

More injury problems for Zumaya, plagued by health concerns the last two seasons, mean he will remain behind on the disabled list when Detroit breaks camp, opening the way for Perry and his high-velocity stuff to make the roster. Perry has closer's stuff but won't be used in that role this year.

Verlander made some adjustments to his mechanics and seemed by mid-March to be back to the form that made him a 17-game winner in 2006 and an 18-game winner in 2007. He lost 17 games last year, and a return to dominance by Verlander is a must if the Tigers are to be an AL Central contender.

Right-hander Edwin Jackson has quietly put up a lot of scoreless innings in the spring and looks as if he'll be a stabilizing force on the staff.

Right-hander Armando Galarraga, a surprising 13-game winner as a rookie, should be able to take a regular turn.

Helping the staff by shoring up the defense, particularly the left side, was an offseason goal of general manager Dave Dombrowski, and spring results seemed to indicate he was successful.

The decision was made last September to return Brandon Inge to third base, where his defense is spectacular, and a shortstop with extreme range, veteran Adam Everett, was signed as a free agent to replace Edgar Renteria, whose range was unsatisfactory in his only season with the Tigers.

Everett suffered an ankle sprain on March 25, but it was not believed to be serious. Ramon Santiago will give him regular rest anyway.

Taking Inge out from behind the plate and dumping catcher Ivan Rodriguez at the trade deadline meant Dombrowski entered the winter in the market for a new catcher, and he obtained Gerald Laird from Texas.

Free agent catcher Matt Treanor was signed to back up Laird and permit the club to send catcher Dusty Ryan out to sharpen his skills.

Carlos Guillen went from first, to third, to left, back to third and then to the bench in September to rest a bad back. The left field experiment lasted only two games, but Detroit is confident Guillen can handle yet another transition. He was signed as an outfielder but moved to the infield in his first pro season.

Having first baseman Miguel Cabrera settled at his new position should let him continue to improve. He has good hands and solid infield skills.

Detroit should have enough offense to compete, if not excel, but next year will have to begin to seriously address getting younger in the field.

Right fielder Magglio Ordonez, though a skilled hitter, is in his mid-30s, as are Guillen and second baseman Placido Polanco. Inge recently turned 30, and Everett will never see his 20s again.

The presence of Cabrera will let the club turn over its roster with complementary players instead of forcing it to go in search of a big thumper.

There are few position players in the minors of any note, but Detroit hopes shortstop Cale Iorg is one of them -- and that he'll be ready some time in 2010.

Jeff Larish should surface for good at some point in 2009, if not at the beginning of the season. He is the kind of power left-handed bat the club is lacking at the moment.

Larish can play first base, third base and the corner outfield spots without a great deal of embarrassment. The fact he can be optioned to the minors and the other bench candidates cannot will work against him until a deal is made.

As it usually does, though, the season will come down to how well Detroit's starters can do their job. Whether they can turn a lead over to the bullpen and whether the relievers can close the deal is another question.

THE TIGERS WILL CONTEND IF ...: Justin Verlander returns to form, Jeremy Bonderman returns to health with a solid fastball, Edwin Jackson makes another step forward, Armando Galarraga continues his rookie showing and a solid fifth starter emerges. The bullpen also must protect leads the way it did in the World Series year of 2006 and not fritter them away like 2008. Should Rick Porcello and Ryan Perry not open the season with the Tigers, they'll be up quickly -- and quite possibly make significant contributions. Pitching is pivotal for the Tigers.

PRIMED FOR A BIG SEASON: RHP Edwin Jackson, squeezed out of Tampa Bay's rotation, was acquired by Detroit to be a reliable starter and could turn out to be much more than that. Jackson went from five victories for Tampa Bay in 2007 to 14 last season, increased his innings from 161 to 183 1/3 and cut his walks to 77 from 88 the year before. This is the first spring where Jackson didn't have to wonder whether he was going to make the team or not, and his confidence in his considerable ability is showing. Big innings, especially the first, have been one of his problems in the past, and he's working to overcome that.

ON THE DECLINE: LHP Dontrelle Willis has gone from 22-game winner for Florida in 2005 to 24 major league innings for Detroit in 2008. He walked 35 batters in those 24 innings and this spring has been only marginally better as he struggles to throw strikes. In his first 8 2/3 spring innings, Willis allowed 17 hits with seven walks for an ERA of 12.46. He will open the season on the disabled list due to an anxiety disorder. The Tigers still are committed to paying him $22 million over the next two seasons.
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