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 Pudge, Inge to split time at catcher

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PostSubject: Pudge, Inge to split time at catcher   Tue Jun 10, 2008 12:22 am

Pudge, Inge to split time at catcher
Leyland concerned Rodriguez could wear down without rest
By Jason Beck / MLB.com

DETROIT -- Brandon Inge became a former Tigers catcher four years ago when the club signed free agent Ivan Rodriguez. Now, they're basically a catching platoon. Whether Inge becomes the Tigers' catcher of the future remains to be seen, but it leaves Rodriguez wondering about his future.

After starting behind the plate on Saturday, Inge was back at catcher on Monday, with Rodriguez out of the starting lineup. That's how manager Jim Leyland plans to use them for the time being, alternating them at catcher from game to game.

"I'm going to catch these guys every other game for a while," Leyland said.

The reasons behind the move, Leyland said, were twofold. For one, he wants to give Rodriguez more rest to see how his 36-year-old body responds. He has started 51 of Detroit's first 63 games through Monday, tying him for seventh among Major League catchers, and while his body has been able to stand up to the workload, Leyland is wary of the wear and tear it has on him.

"You can tell when a guy catches as much as he does, particularly a guy who's caught as many games as he has, that's not easy to do," Leyland said. "He's in as good shape as any player we've got. I don't care how good shape he's in. You catch that many games, [some] 12 innings, [some] a day game after a night game, you get rundown. I don't care who you are. I don't care how good shape you're in. That goes for anybody."

It's not just about how his body responds, but his bat. He's 4-for-35 since the start of the Tigers' last road trip, and all four hits have been singles. That has brought down his average to .245 this season, with one home run and 21 RBIs.

"I think he's getting tired," Leyland said. "He won't ever admit he's tired because he's a proud player, but I think that's one of the reasons his average has fallen off."

Rodriguez, indeed, counters that notion. When asked if he feels any more wear and tear compared to years past, he asked his own questions.

"Do you see any changes in my energy when I play the game? Do I show any change in intensity? No," Rodriguez said. "Is [the question] because I'm not hitting? That's baseball. I'm swinging the bat. I've been hitting the ball hard, putting the ball in play. Right now, I'm going through a tough time, but it happens to everybody else. Physically, I'm good. Mentally, I'm good."

The other side of the story, of course, is Inge. The Tigers moved him back behind the plate this spring once it became clear they wouldn't be able to trade him and backup Vance Wilson wouldn't be ready for the season. After sounding lukewarm at first about moving back to catcher, Inge has embraced his old position again -- partly out of the chance at playing time, partly for the control a catcher can have on a game.

Monday was Inge's 12th start behind the plate, with nine of them coming since May 1. He would've caught another game on the Tigers' West Coast trip until a pulled left oblique muscle kept him out of the lineup last week at Oakland.

"Inge needs to catch," Leyland said. "He needs to catch some. We've got to find out if he can do it. He hadn't done it for a long time."

At this point, Leyland believes that he can.

"He looks pretty good to me," he said. "I think it's a matter of getting back in there and getting settled in on a consistent basis. I don't know if every other day is. I think it's good enough for right now."

Left unsaid for now is what it means for the Tigers if he can do it. Asked if that meant anything for next year, Leyland said: "We're putting the cart before the horse. We're getting way carried away. I'm going to catch him every other day to try to keep him fresh and try to keep Pudge fresh."

Rodriguez is a free agent at season's end. He has avoided discussing the future, saying during Spring Training that it's out of his control. Asked what this makes him think about it, he said: "I don't know. The way this looks right now, I don't know.

"This is a great organization, a great group of guys, beautiful organization, beautiful fans to play for. It's been a good five years, but I don't know what's going to happen. Sometimes you've got to be ready for everything, and right now I have to be ready for everything, because I don't know what's going to happen."

Leyland talked to Rodriguez about the move on Sunday, he said, and he understandably wasn't happy about it. Leyland understands that, because Rodriguez is a proud player.

"I'm sure it doesn't make Pudge happy, because Pudge is a gamer," Leyland said. "He wants to play every day. I mean, that's why you love Pudge. I'm saying you have to do what you think is best. Sometimes, maybe less is best."

It was a move that Rodriguez said surprised him. He did not say it disappointed him, only that he believes he can still play every day.

"I'm ready to play every day, but I respect him," Rodriguez said. "I'm a player who prepares myself physically and mentally to play every day. And I'm ready to play every day.

"I still think I can do it. I don't know that they think I can do it. I can do it. I believe in myself. I believe that I can do the job."


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PostSubject: Re: Pudge, Inge to split time at catcher   Tue Jun 10, 2008 12:40 am

Poor Pudge is getting the phase out! That sucks since Inge is not a better batter than Pudge. I would still rather see Inge at 3rd, but capt. Idiot is still working on killing the team and the players spirits!


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PostSubject: Re: Pudge, Inge to split time at catcher   Tue Jun 10, 2008 1:03 am

Monday, June 9, 2008
Pudge, Inge to alternate at catcher
Leyland says slumping Rodriguez needs rest, and they will go every other day for a while.
Tom Gage / The Detroit News

DETROIT -- Changes are coming at catcher for the Tigers. In fact, they're already here.

Before Monday night's game, manager Jim Leyland announced he's going to alternate Pudge Rodriguez and Brandon Inge behind the plate on a daily basis.

"I'm going to catch them every other day for a while," Leyland said.

The reason being?

"We're trying to give Pudge a little more rest. I'm not saying he's tired, but hopefully this will keep him a little fresher."

Inge will only start at third base, that means, when he's not catching and Carlos Guillen needs a day off from playing third. A week ago, it looked like Inge was going to play third more often instead of less.

"Inge needs to catch," Leyland said. "We have to find out if he can do it. I'm sure it won't make Pudge happy. He's a gamer. He wants to play every day, but sometimes you have to do what you think is best.

"It's not easy to catch as much as Pudge has caught. He's in as good shape as anyone we have, but when you've caught that much, that goes for anybody, you get run down. I think that's one of the reasons his average has fallen off."

Leyland said that he won't stray from the plan even if the catcher not scheduled to start has better stats against the pitcher facing the Tigers that day.

"I'm catching them every other day regardless of what the numbers say," he said.

The change comes at a time when Rodriguez is in a .114 slump (4-for-35).

Back soon

Leyland said he was "very satisfied" with what he saw in Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney on Sunday night when they both pitched for Toledo.

"Rodney's command of his fastball still was not good. It was O.K.," Leyland said.

"His change-up was tremendous, though. But I'm glad I went and I was satisfied with what I saw."

Like Zumaya's 98 mph fastball.

"Zumaya was Zumaya," Leyland said. "He threw his fastball at 98, three breaking balls, a change-up, but I wasn't worried about any of that. The reason I'm satisfied is that they both looked healthy. They both threw free and easy. The rest will take care of itself. You won't even know Zumaya when you see him, though. He doesn't even look the same. He's in the best shape I've ever seen him. He looks absolutely tremendous."

Rodney will be back with the Tigers briefly today to work with pitching coach Chuck Hernandez. Then he'll pitch again for Toledo, "probably on Friday," Leyland said.

There's no set timetable for the return of either right-hander, but if Rodney throws well again on Friday, it's conceivable he could rejoin the Tigers for their San Francisco-San Diego trip that starts next Monday.

"I'm not getting into when they're coming back," Leyland said. "We're staying the course. There's no rush. We're bringing them back when we feel they're ready and I think it's going to be in the very near future.

"When those guys get here, the atmosphere will be a little different. That doesn't mean there's something wrong with anybody here, it's just the way it is. The bullpen has actually done a good job, but when those two walk in healthy and ready to go, that's different."

Around the horn

Right-hander Aquilino Lopez is expected back today from the bereavement list. He'd been on the list to be with his ailing father. That means, if he makes it back by game time, there will be another roster move involving the pitching staff.


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PostSubject: Re: Pudge, Inge to split time at catcher   Tue Jun 10, 2008 1:51 am

Leyland needs to go
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PostSubject: Re: Pudge, Inge to split time at catcher   Tue Jun 10, 2008 11:55 am

I personally would rather have Inge at catcher than 3B. It's much easier to get a 3B than a C. And with the offense Inge has, it is more suitable at C than 3B. The difference in defense between Inge and a normal 3B isn't great enough to keep him there, especially if the offense is there that you wouldn't be able to get at C anyway. If that makes any sense.


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PostSubject: Re: Pudge, Inge to split time at catcher   Tue Jun 10, 2008 1:48 pm

gs78 wrote:
Leyland needs to go

and he can take Fudge with him. 2 week slump my ass, more like a 2-3 year slump. maybe he's tired from all those walks year after year.

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PostSubject: Re: Pudge, Inge to split time at catcher   Tue Jun 10, 2008 2:26 pm

Well....keep in mind, Pudge has a history of back problems. Being the "proud" player that he is...I can't help but wonder if maybe his back is hurting again and he just doesn't want to say anything about it. Sometimes when he swings the bat, it looks like it might be giving him problems. No not good.
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PostSubject: Re: Pudge, Inge to split time at catcher   Tue Jun 10, 2008 6:06 pm

This is great for Inge!!!

Now he can get decent playing time!!
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PostSubject: Re: Pudge, Inge to split time at catcher   Wed Jun 18, 2008 8:41 pm

06/18/2008 3:16 PM ET
Leyland juggling catching duty dilemma
Inge's oblique strain spells more time for Pudge behind plate
By Jason Beck / MLB.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Tigers' plan of alternating is skipping some turns, but that doesn't mean that Ivan Rodriguez is back to playing every day again.

Rodriguez started behind the plate Wednesday afternoon for the third consecutive game, including now a day game after a night game, but manager Jim Leyland said it had more to do with Brandon Inge. Inge is still dealing with a sore left oblique muscle that he pulled two weeks ago at Seattle, and it's bad enough to affect his hitting.

Leyland's focus for now is to make sure the injury doesn't get any worse. He already has Gary Sheffield on the disabled list with an oblique strain he suffered on Memorial Day. Sheffield is on a Minor League rehab assignment, and Leyland can't afford to have that happen to Inge, his second catcher.

"I'm going to give Inge a day and the day off, see if that helps him," Leyland said of Inge. "Because he's not right, and I'm worried about that. Those things can be lasting and dangerous if you're not careful. I know he's been playing with it, which we talked about, but it hurts."

Inge missed all three games at Oakland on the last road trip after suffering the injury in the series finale at Seattle. He started six games on the Tigers' recent 10-game homestand, but he went 4-for-18 with seven strikeouts in the process. Inge admitted Wednesday that the oblique still bothers him when he swings as well as when he throws.

"Those things are dangerous," Leyland said. "Obliques are the real tricky ones."

If the days off have the desired effect, Leyland will have Inge back at catcher for Friday's series opener at San Diego. And the Tigers will be back to alternating catchers under the plan Leyland decided last homestand. The design was to keep Rodriguez from wearing down.

"I didn't want to catch Pudge today, to be honest with you," Leyland said, "because I'm going to start wearing him down again. That's what's going to happen if I'm not careful, but I can't help it."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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