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 FREE PRESS TIGER'S NEWS

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PostSubject: Re: FREE PRESS TIGER'S NEWS   Thu Sep 18, 2008 11:24 pm

TIGERS CORNER
Dearborn's Derek Lowe would be nice fit via free agency in 2009

BY JOHN LOWE • FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER • September 18, 2008

ARLINGTON, Texas -- As Freddy Garcia made his Tigers debut Wednesday night, perhaps it was time to also think about a right-hander who, like Garcia, can be a free agent after this season: Dearborn's Derek Lowe.


Lowe, 35, is in his fourth season with the Dodgers after capping his Red Sox career by winning the clinching game of the 2004 World Series.

The Tigers lack starters for next season whom they know will be healthy and capable enough to stay in the rotation all season.

As for Lowe's health and capability, check out these facts:

Lowe is the only active 10-year pitcher in the major leagues who never has been on the disabled list.

Only two pitchers (Toronto's Roy Halladay and Houston's Roy Oswalt) have won more games than Lowe since the beginning of 2002.

Lowe is the only current pitcher with at least 12 victories in each of his past seven seasons. He is 14-11 this season.

Lowe has been at his best in recent weeks as the Dodgers-Diamondbacks race in the National League West has hit its decisive stage. In his past four starts, Lowe has given up a combined two runs. He has seven quality starts in his past eight outings.

Manager Jim Leyland has repeatedly complained about how the Tigers walk too many batters. Over his past 11 starts, Lowe has walked nine.

WALK THIS WAY: There is at least one walk by the Tigers that Leyland doesn't think was a walk: the stroll by Michael Young that began Texas' winning three-run rally in the ninth Tuesday night against right-hander Fernando Rodney.

Leyland believes that the 2-2 pitch to Young should have been called strike three by plate umpire Angel Hernandez. (Rodney wanted an appeal to the first-base umpire on the play, but Leyland said that Young didn't swing.)

The umpires' runway to their locker room at the Rangers' park is next to the Tigers' third-base dugout. As the game ended and the umpires walked off the field, Leyland came out of the dugout and got face-to-face with Hernandez for a few seconds. Hernandez then left the field, and umpire Eric Cooper stood between Leyland and the umpires' runway to keep Leyland -- and the episode -- from going any further. Leyland continued to point and yell in Hernandez's direction.

ROBERTSON TO START AGAIN: Leyland said left-hander Nate Robertson would start next Wednesday against Kansas City -- his second start since he was taken out of the rotation.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: FREE PRESS TIGER'S NEWS   Tue Sep 23, 2008 7:53 pm

Hollimon undergoes surgery, likely to miss first half of next season

By JON PAUL MOROSI • FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER • September 20, 2008

CLEVELAND – Tigers prospect Michael Hollimon is expected to miss roughly half the 2009 season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left (non-throwing) shoulder.

Dr. James Andrews performed the operation in Birmingham, Ala., on Thursday. Detroit head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said the recovery time for Hollimon will likely be six to nine months.

“In such a young player, with a nice future ahead of him, we want to take time and make sure it’s done right,” Rand said Saturday.

Hollimon, a 26-year-old second baseman, made his big-league debut in June and batted .261 with one home run and two RBIs in 11 games with the Tigers.

He returned to Triple-A Toledo after the All-Star break and struggled throughout the second half, batting only .154 in 40 games.

It’s possible that the shoulder injury contributed to Hollimon’s statistical slide. A switch hitter, Hollimon dislocated the shoulder during spring training and missed most of April because of his rehabilitation program.

He did not spend any time on the disabled list thereafter, but the shoulder was still an issue.

“At times during the season, he felt a little weakness in the shoulder,” Rand said. “He felt that the shoulder wasn’t stable. He was worried that, going down the road, he’d have an issue at some point that would have to be fixed. So, he opted to have the surgery at this time.”

Hollimon was scheduled to participate in the Arizona Fall League but will be replaced by Will Rhymes, a speedy, 5-foot-9 second baseman who had a standout season at Double-A Erie.

Hollimon is the second Tigers prospect who will miss the AFL because of surgery. Outfielder Clete Thomas underwent Tommy John ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow earlier this month.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: FREE PRESS TIGER'S NEWS   Sun Sep 28, 2008 9:58 pm

JON PAUL MOROSI | GRADING THE TIGERS
Rating each Tiger on his performance

BY JON PAUL MOROSI • FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER • September 28, 2008

I'll admit it. I flunked the midterm.

Upon reading my midseason grades, some of you were compelled to offer some, uh, constructive criticism for the scale I used. You felt that I was too lenient, and I understood why: I was not transparent enough about the process I used.

My belief has been that players who perform adequately should receive a B or B-plus. But many of you believed the first-half grades should have been curved around a C, based on the Tigers' disappointing performance.

After some consideration, I decided to overhaul the grading system. The letter grades are out, in favor of what I believe will be a more precise method.

Players will now be evaluated in two ways: performance in their given role and value within the payroll at large.

An above-average mark in either category will earn a "thumbs-up." A below-average rating will be indicated by a "thumbs-down." An average player gets the "so-so" signal.

I believe this more closely mirrors the way a baseball executive would evaluate his own players.

Will it work? Read on to find out for yourself.

FRONT OFFICE

Dave Dombrowski - General manager

Dombrowski is a good GM who has had a dismal year. He began last off-season by trading prospects Jair Jurrjens and Gorkys Hernandez for Edgar Renteria, a watershed move that soured quickly. Miguel Cabrera has been as good as advertised, but Dontrelle Willis has not. Nate Robertson, like Willis, was a major disappointment in his first season after signing a three-year contract extension. Dombrowski is about to enter a challenging winter due to the obvious need for change and payroll commitments already in place.

Performance: THUMBS DOWN

Jim Leyland - Manager

He summed up the season Tuesday by saying, "With the year we've had, I stink. But I can tell you one thing: I ain't the Lone Ranger." Leyland consistently has accepted responsibility for the season, but those above (Dombrowski) and below (Renteria, Willis, Robertson, the bullpen) combine for a larger slice of the blame pie. He resuscitated the team after its horrible start but was undermined in the end by its inconsistent pitching. His comments last week -- "I'm tired of worrying about guys being sensitive" -- suggest this team will have a different look in 2009.

Performance: SIDEWAYS THUMB


PITCHERS

Freddy Dolsi - Middle relief

Salary: $292,500

He possesses a lively fastball but has pitched less frequently and effectively in the second half. He has struggled with command, and lefties have hit him well. Dolsi, who will turn 26 in January, is not polished enough to pitch late on a regular basis.

Performance: SIDEWAYS THUMB
Value: SIDEWAYS THUMB

Kyle Farnsworth - Setup man

Salary: $1.83 million

A disappointment since arriving for Pudge Rodriguez, Farnsworth has pitched in only five games this month because of injuries. Over 16 appearances with the Tigers, opposing hitters are batting .380 against him. Farnsworth is eligible for free agency.

Performance: THUMBS DOWN
Value: THUMBS DOWN


Casey Fossum - Middle relief

Salary: $333,000

His ERA is not a thing of beauty, but he has had a respectable second half. He has pitched in more late-game situations, with mixed results. He's valuable because of his delivery, experience and success against lefties. He will be a free agent but might return.

Performance: SIDEWAYS THUMB
Value: SIDEWAYS THUMB

Armando Galarraga - Starter

Salary: $358,800

The Tigers' best pitcher and most pleasant surprise, he joined the rotation in April and immediately succeeded. With a better bullpen, Galarraga could have easily won 17 games. As long as he keeps his sinker and slider down in the zone, he'll be valuable.

Performance: THUMBS UP
Value: THUMBS UP


Freddy Garcia - Starter

Salary: $50,000

Of the Tigers' potential free agents, he is the one they most need. Leyland is a great admirer, which should motivate the front office to bring him back on a one-year deal. A little more than one year from major surgery, he looks better now than some internal options.

Performance: SIDEWAYS THUMB
Value: THUMBS UP

Gary Glover - Middle relief

Salary: $97,500

Released by Tampa Bay, he joined the Tigers in mid-August. He frequently reaches 94 m.p.h. but has not pitched consistently enough to nail down a job next year. He is eligible for salary arbitration this winter but could be traded or non-tendered.

Performance: SIDEWAYS THUMB
Value: SIDEWAYS THUMB

Todd Jones - closer

Salary: $7.0 million

The disclosure that Jones had a frayed labrum provides some context. Through June 27, he was 3-0 and had converted all 14 save opportunities. From then on, he blew three saves. Now retired, he has saved more Detroit victories than anyone else.

Performance: SIDEWAYS THUMB
Value: THUMBS DOWN

Chris Lambert - Long relief

Salary: $65,000

Does not possess overpowering stuff and must locate impeccably. He had not pitched in the majors, but Leyland provided him with plenty of opportunities, including three starts. He's not likely to be part of next year's rotation but could be back as long relief.

Performance: THUMBS DOWN
Value: SIDEWAYS THUMB

Aquilino Lopez - Bullpen

Salary: $368,000

Lopez has appeared in more games this season than any other Tigers righty. But he allowed more than 50% of inherited runners to score, keeping him out of key situations. He will be eligible for arbitration but could be non-tendered.

Performance: THUMBS DOWN
Value: SIDEWAYS THUMB

Zach Miner - Utility

Salary: $377,200

As has been the case for much of Miner's career, it's hard to say precisely where he fits. In more than 250 big-league innings, he has a lower ERA as a reliever than a starter. He has not secured a roster spot, but, barring a trade, he'll have a chance.

Performance: THUMBS DOWN
Value: SIDEWAYS THUMB

Clay Rapada - Middle relief

Salary: $195,000

He has had an up-and-down season, with at least one inning for the Tigers in every month except August and one inning for Toledo in every month except May. He has not shown good control in September, which will not help his chances next year.

Performance: THUMBS DOWN
Value: SIDEWAYS THUMB

Nate Robertson - Starter

Salary: $4.25 million

By any measure, he has been one of the biggest disappointments. The Tigers signed him to a $21.25-million contract extension in January. But he has gone 7-11 with the worst ERA (6.35) of any full-time major league starter. He needs to win a job next spring.

Performance: THUMBS DOWN
Value: THUMBS DOWN


Fernando Rodney - Setup/closer

Salary: $1.7 million

The electrifying fastball and change-up are there, but Rodney has not shown enough command. He has converted 11 of 15 save opportunities and is eligible for salary arbitration. But it will be a surprise if the Tigers entrust the ninth inning to him.

Performance: THUMBS DOWN
Value: THUMBS DOWN


Kenny Rogers - Starter

Salary: $8 million

He went 29-25 for the Tigers over three seasons. But time has caught up with Rogers, who struggled early and late. Shut down after two Sept. starts, he's unlikely to return.

Performance: THUMBS DOWN
Value: THUMBS DOWN


Bobby Seay - Lefty relief

Salary: $780,000

His season has been a head-scratcher. Left-handers batted .209 against him last year and .306 this year. His strikeouts are up -- but so are his walks. He has been better than 2006, but not quite as good as 2007. There's a decent chance he will be back next year.

Performance: SIDEWAYS THUMB
Value: THUMBS DOWN

Justin Verlander - Starter

Salary: $1.15 million

As a rookie in 2006, he had 17 victories. This season he had 17 losses. Verlander's performance is hard to explain, but he and the Tigers know what he must do in 2009: improve his fastball command and get better results against rivals Chicago and Cleveland.

Performance: THUMBS DOWN
Value: THUMBS DOWN


Dontrelle Willis - Starter

Salary: $7 million

He earned $7 million for no victories and a 10.61 ERA entering Saturday. He even had a losing record (0-3) in Class A. He is due to earn $22 million over the next two seasons. He must pitch well in spring training to break camp with the big-league team.

Performance: THUMBS DOWN
Value: THUMBS DOWN


Joel Zumaya - Bullpen

Salary: $420,000

For all his talent, he allowed more baserunners per inning than Denny Bautista, Francis Beltran or Jason Grilli. A fracture in his shoulder makes it difficult to be certain about his health.

Performance: THUMBS DOWN
Value: SIDEWAYS THUMB


continued below


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: FREE PRESS TIGER'S NEWS   Sun Sep 28, 2008 10:00 pm

JON PAUL MOROSI | GRADING THE TIGERS
Rating each Tiger on his performance
(continued)

BY JON PAUL MOROSI • FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER • September 28, 2008

CATCHERS

Brandon Inge - Catcher/third base

Salary: $6.2 million

In his time at third, Inge has shown that he remains an elite defender. His other endeavors this year as a super-utility player have not been as successful. He has allowed 10 passed balls in 59 games behind the plate. His season batting average is .204. Inge is signed through 2010.

Performance: THUMBS DOWN
Value: THUMBS DOWN


Dusty Ryan - Catcher

Salary: $65,000

One of the more pleasant surprises in the farm system, Ryan hit well at Double-A and Triple-A before earning a call-up. He has played often since arriving and appears comfortable in the major leagues. He strikes out often and has struggled to block balls in the dirt, but he has made a good impression. He's likely to have some role on the team in 2009.

Performance: THUMBS UP
Value: THUMBS UP


Dane Sardinha - Backup Catcher

Salary: $164,585

He became the Tigers' backup catcher after the Pudge Rodriguez trade, but the emergence of Ryan has limited him to two starts in September. Sardinha is a good receiver and throws well, but has not hit enough (.140 this season) to play regularly. The reduced playing time in recent weeks does not bode well for his big-league future in Detroit.

Performance: SIDEWAYS THUMB
Value: SIDEWAYS THUMB



INFIELDERS

Miguel Cabrera - First base

Salary: $11.3 million

For all the second-guessing of the Tigers' off-season moves, this much is certain: Of the eight players involved in both sides of their trade with Florida, none had a better 2008 season than Cabrera. He recovered from a slow start to establish career highs in home runs and RBIs, all while batting over .290. He has also looked more comfortable at first base, where Leyland believes he has great potential as a defender.

Performance: THUMBS UP
Value: THUMBS UP


Carlos Guillen - Third base

Salary: $12 million

The past 12 months have seen Guillen move from shortstop to first base at the end of last season, then from first base to third base in April. He has also spent some time in left. Guillen turns 33 this week and has not played since Aug. 25 because of a pinched nerve in his back. Due in part to injuries, he has had about half the home runs and RBIs of last season. He has full no-trade protection and is signed through 2011.

Performance: SIDEWAYS THUMB
Value: THUMBS DOWN

Mike Hessman - First/third base

Salary: $65,000

Hessman plays good defense at the corners, hits with power from the right side and also tends to strike out. Hessman has looked better this year than he did in 2007, with five home runs in his first 12 games. Leyland said a friend who works for another organization asked him about Hessman recently, a sign that the industry is taking notice. "You pull so hard for a guy like that," Leyland said.

Performance: THUMBS UP
Value: THUMBS UP


Jeff Larish - First/third base

Salary: $156,000

A series of good, focused at-bats have allowed Larish's batting average to climb this month. Leyland has praised his toughness and concentration, and it's possible that he will work his way into a roster spot next year. Larish bats left-handed, which enhances his value to a right-handed-dominant team. He's scheduled to play third base in the Arizona Fall League, which will add to his versatility.

Performance: THUMBS UP
Value: THUMBS UP

Placido Polanco - Second base

Salary: $4.6 million

As of May 1, he was batting .226. Now, he's back to familiar territory: above .300. Polanco, who turns 33 next month, is reaching the age at which many middle infielders begin to decline. His batting average and fielding percentage are slightly lower than they were last season, but he remains one of baseball's best second basemen. He is signed through next year at the reasonable sum of $4.6 million and is almost certain to return.

Performance: THUMBS UP
Value: THUMBS UP


Edgar Renteria - Shortstop

Salary: $9 million

He's a five-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner. But those honors came as a National Leaguer. His batting average (.270) is even lower than his other disappointing season in the American League (.276 with Boston in 2005). His diminished range has allowed far too many ground balls to reach the outfield. The Tigers are likely to decline his $12-million option and allow him to become a free agent.

Performance: THUMBS DOWN
Value: THUMBS DOWN


Ramon Santiago - Utility

Salary: $575,000

Steady in the field, Santiago has batted near or above .300 for most of the season in his part-time role, adding occasional pop off the bench. The Tigers do not seem to think he is an everyday player, but he has better range than Renteria. He does not steal bases, which limits his usefulness as a utility player, but he brings enough to the team that he has a chance to return in 2009, likely as a backup.

Performance: THUMBS UP
Value: SIDEWAYS THUMB


OUTFIELDERS


Curtis Granderson - centerfield

Salary: $1 million

The season started with Granderson on the disabled list, but it will end with him leading the American League in triples for a second consecutive season. He also socked 21 home runs -- including five against left-handed pitchers -- and played a brilliant centerfield, solidifying his reputation as one of the most exciting people in baseball. His .264 average against left-handers was a significant improvement.

Performance: THUMBS UP
Value: THUMBS UP


Matt Joyce - platoon

Salary: $260,000

Leyland has compared the rookie to Jim Northrup because of his smooth left-handed swing. Joyce has moved quickly, from Class A in 2006 to getting more than 200 at-bats in the majors this year. He has hit 12 home runs, although only two have come since July 21. His inexperience has been evident at times -- a .222 average with runners in scoring position -- but he has made a strong impression overall.

Performance: SIDEWAYS THUMB
Value: THUMBS UP

Magglio Ordoñez - Rightfield

Salary: $15 million

It would have been virtually impossible to match his near-MVP 2007, but Ordoñez has had a terrific year. He is going to lead the team in batting for a second consecutive season and likely would have made the All-Star team if he had not injured an oblique muscle in late June. He's one of Detroit's most popular players, but that will probably not deter team officials from gauging trade interest in him this winter.

Performance: THUMBS UP
Value: SIDEWAYS THUMB

Ryan Raburn - Utility

Salary: $378,688

His playing time has been limited by Marcus Thames' power and Joyce's emergence, and his batting average has dropped about 70 points since last season. He's a good defender in the outfield but has been less consistent when pressed into service at second and third base. Still, his versatility should make him attractive to National League teams when the Tigers engage in trade talks this winter.

Performance: SIDEWAYS THUMB
Value: SIDEWAYS THUMB


Marcus Thames - platoon

Salary: $1.275 million

The perpetual question has not yet been answered: When, with what team, and at what position will Thames become an everyday player? His sensational first half (17 home runs in 185 at-bats) has been followed by a more ordinary stretch run, and it's not clear yet what plans the Tigers have for him in 2009. He could hit more than 30 home runs as an everyday player, but he might not get that chance in Detroit.

Performance: THUMBS UP
Value: THUMBS UP

Gary Sheffield - DH

Salary: $14 million

Limited by a shoulder injury throughout the first half, Sheffield has hit for more power since. Still, his batting average is mired in the .220s. His trade value is limited by his $14-million contract next season, so the Tigers have little choice but to hope that a healthy off-season will help him return to form. Entering Saturday, he was on the verge of becoming the first player to hit home run No. 500 while with Detroit.

Performance: THUMBS DOWN
Value: THUMBS DOWN


Contact JON PAUL MOROSI at 313-223-4097 or jmorosi@freepress.com . Check out his Tigers blog at www.freep.com/sports


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
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PostSubject: Re: FREE PRESS TIGER'S NEWS   Mon Feb 16, 2009 8:33 pm

JON PAUL MOROSI’S BLOG
Leyland expects Miner to make Tigers roster

By JON PAUL MOROSI • FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER • February 16, 2009

LAKELAND, Fla. — Even if Zach Miner loses his bid to become the Tigers’ fifth starter, he’s likely to make the Opening Day roster.

“I would expect Zach Miner to be on the team,” manager Jim Leyland said this morning.

Miner has held roles in the rotation and bullpen since being called up to replace the injured Mike Maroth in the first half of the 2006 season. He also spent time in the minors during each of the past two years.

He’s currently engaged in what appears to be a three-way competition to become the team’s No. 5 starter. The other candidates, Nate Robertson and Dontrelle Willis, have two advantages: They are left-handed and have signed long-term contracts with the team.

A few more notes from this morning:

• Even though Curtis Granderson is a left-handed hitter, Leyland said his backup at the position doesn’t necessarily have to bat right-handed. Brent Clevlen, Ryan Raburn and Casper Wells are among the right-handed hitting candidates for that role.

• Leyland said he believes new leftfielder Carlos Guillen “played hurt a lot last year.” The Tigers must hope Guillen, a switch hitter, stays healthy this season. He is likely to be one of two left-handed hitters in the everyday lineup against right-handed starters. “We need him out there,” Leyland said.

• Left-hander Bobby Seay is slated to be in the bullpen, after signing a $1.3-million contract in January. Will the Tigers have any other left-handed relievers on their Opening Day roster? It’s possible. Leyland reminded reporters this morning that he has carried as many as three left-handers in the bullpen during previous seasons. “I like three,” he said.


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–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: FREE PRESS TIGER'S NEWS   Fri Feb 20, 2009 9:29 am

TIGERS CORNER
3 more Tigers opt out of tourney

BY JON PAUL MOROSI • FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER • February 20, 2009

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Tigers' potential delegation to the World Baseball Classic seems to be dwindling by the day.

Three players said Thursday that they have removed themselves from consideration for next month's tournament: right-handed relieverJuan Rincon of Venezuela, and catcherMax St. Pierre and shortstopCale Iorg of Canada.

Meanwhile, right-hander Justin Verlander said he has not received any word from USA Baseball officials about whether he will be asked to participate. Verlander was listed on the provisional roster, but it's not clear if he will be among the 28 players on the active roster, to be announced Tuesday.

"I have no idea," he said.

Centerfielder Curtis Granderson is the team's only other candidate for Team USA. Second baseman Placido Polanco said earlier this week that he has elected not to play for the Dominican Republic.

Rincon has opted to skip the tournament for a simple reason: As a non-roster invitee, he wants to maximize his chances of making Detroit's 25-man Opening Day roster.

"I want to make the team," Rincon said. "I'd rather make my best case here."

The Tigers' clubhouse staff will stay busy during the WBC. Team Venezuela will train at TigerTown in Lakeland, while clubhouse assistant Tyson Steele will travel with Team USA as its chief equipment manager.

NOTEBOOK: Right-hander Jeremy Bonderman reclined at his locker after Thursday's workout with a large ice pack on his throwing shoulder. Nothing to worry about. "I feel good," said Bonderman, who underwent multiple procedures last year to correct a circulation problem. "It's just something you have to work through. No pain. I'm just sore. That's all it is."

Bonderman said he is scheduled to throw a live batting practice session on Saturday. ... When asked about the closer competition, manager Jim Leyland said, "Between (Brandon) Lyon and (Fernando) Rodney right now, I feel very comfortable. I don't know how it's going to play out." ... Leyland will be away from the team on Monday to attend the funeral of his nephew, P.J. Miller, in Perrysburg, Ohio.


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–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: FREE PRESS TIGER'S NEWS   Tue Mar 03, 2009 9:41 am

TIGERS CORNER
Another good day for Zumaya

BY JOHN LOWE and JON PAUL MOROSI • FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITERS • March 3, 2009

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Joel Zumaya's second outing of spring training Monday produced an outcome like his first. He pitched one hitless inning.

"He looks like a million bucks right now," manager Jim Leyland said. But Leyland stressed he's not getting carried away. There are, after all, more than four weeks left before the Tigers break camp. Zumaya pitched in Monday's 7-1 victory over Florida Southern in the teams' exhibition.

Pitching coach Rick Knapp had Zumaya throw some curves Monday. "He probably threw more good breaking balls today than he did the whole year last year," Leyland said.

If a healthy Zumaya can throw his curve for strikes to go with his overwhelming fastball, he could be dominant as in 2006. "If he's healthy, he's going to be good," Leyland said.

VERLANDER AN ALTERNATE:
Team USA officials have made a series of roster moves in recent days, as players have pulled out of the World Baseball Classic because of injuries. If one of Team USA's right-handed starters -- Jake Peavy, Roy Oswalt or Jeremy Guthrie -- drop out before the tournament begins, Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander might get the call.

"I think he's the No. 1 alternate now for the right-handed starters," Team USA general manager Bob Watson said Monday in Clearwater, Fla. Watson said he considered Verlander "very seriously" before setting the initial roster.

Once he decided on Peavy and Oswalt -- "Two power guys," Watson said -- he wanted the other right-handed starter to have a different look. So, he picked Guthrie over Verlander, whose power repertoire more closely resembles that of Peavy and Oswalt.

Oswalt, left-hander Ted Lilly and Guthrie -- in that order -- are scheduled to start the team's three exhibition games this week. For now, Verlander is scheduled to pitch for the Tigers against the Yankees on Friday.

NOTEBOOK: Right-hander Armando Galarraga seemed ambivalent Monday about his start today for Venezuela in its exhibition game against the Tigers. On the one hand, the occasion will be intriguing, perhaps fun. But Galarraga also seemed wary of hitting a Detroit teammate with a pitch.

"I throw a lot of pitches inside," he said. "I don't want to hit anyone with a pitch."

Galarraga will start for Venezuela as it prepares to open play this weekend in the WBC. He's one of four Tigers on the club. Others are Carlos Guillen, Magglio Ordoñez and Miguel Cabrera. ...

Florida Southern College is located a few miles from the Tigers' training base, and its baseball team's annual game against the Tigers is a nice civic occasion. The Monday crowd (2,349) might have been larger except for two factors. The Florida Southern students are on spring break. And the weather was dreadful for baseball -- 57 degrees at game time, with a wind way too strong to be called a breeze.

Leyland said he couldn't remember a day in spring training when he felt colder.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: FREE PRESS TIGER'S NEWS   Tue Mar 03, 2009 9:51 am

JOHN LOWE'S BLOG
FSC’s Kirkland successfully doubles his course load: Tigers and World Series

By JOHN LOWE • FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER • March 3, 2009

Pitching for Tampa Bay in the World Series last year, Edwin Jackson retired Philadelphia hitters named Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Pat Burrell.

On Monday, Jackson couldn’t retire Wade Kirkland.

Kirkland is the sophomore second baseman of Florida Southern College. In the first inning Monday, he doubled off Jackson. In the third inning, he doubled off him again.

“It was an awesome feeling,” Kirkland told me on the phone Monday night. “I was trying to have fun and trying to get the most out of it. I wanted to get my hacks in. I was able to square the ball up a few times.”

He’s aware of how Jackson spent last October.

“I know he’s been in the World Series and that he’s been in the big leagues for a few years,” Kirkland said. “It was an awesome thing to face a guy like that.”

The Tigers obtained Jackson from the Rays for outfielder Matt Joyce. As in his first spring outing last week, he didn’t allow a run Monday. He overcame Kirkland to throw three scoreless innings. He was out of the game for Kirkland’s subsequent at-bats.

Kirkland’s two doubles off Jackson exemplified something my friend Dan Shaughnessy pointed out in the Boston Globe last week. Baseball is the only major sport where you can see a college team have a competitive game with a big-league team.

Dan was writing about the Red Sox’ annual spring-training game with Boston College. Funny thing: In both the game Dan wrote about and the one I covered Monday, the big-league team beat the college team, 7-1. But in each case, it was one big inning by that decided the game.

The game-time temperature Monday was 57 degrees. There was a lot of wind. But Wade Kirkland - who had two doubles off a World Series pitcher - wasn’t talking about the Florida chill when he summed up his feelings about Monday this way:

“It was cool.”


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
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PostSubject: Re: FREE PRESS TIGER'S NEWS   Tue Mar 10, 2009 10:26 am

TIGERS CORNER
Promising Tiger tandem buddies up on the links

BY JOHN LOWE • FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER • March 9, 2009

LAKELAND, Fla. -- When Tigers pitching phenoms Rick Porcello and Ryan Perry have time away from the park in spring training, they concentrate on how to excel with that little white ball.

The golf ball.


Golf helped Porcello and Perry start their friendship last fall. Now it helps keep their minds off baseball as much as possible when they're not at the ballpark.

"If you think about it too much," Perry said of baseball, "it plays back too much in your head."

Porcello and Perry share a spring-training three-bedroom apartment with fellow right-hander Zach Simons. Simons also plays golf.

On Saturday, Perry arrived home from the game in Clearwater, Fla. He first reported to Porcello and Simons on how he'd done (1 2/3 innings, no hits, two strikeouts).

Then Perry asked Porcello and Simons how they'd done at golf that day.

"They're still working on trying to beat me," Perry said.

Perry and Porcello sometimes play golf on the Tiger Woods video game. Simons says he doesn't participate in that version of that sport.

Porcello and Perry realized each liked golf when they were teammates in Lakeland in the Instructional League. Porcello had gotten to know Simons during the Florida State League regular season.

If either Porcello or Perry lived on his own during this spring training, he might dwell at night on what it's like to be a No. 1 draft pick who's getting more and more attention and who might reach the majors in his second year of pro ball. Either could wrap himself into a mental straitjacket reviewing his last outing or anticipating his next.

Instead, with each other and Simons and golf as company, Porcello and Perry appear among the loosest of the young players in the clubhouse. Maybe golf really does relax some people and allow them to perform better at their jobs.

Perry hasn't allowed a run in 3 2/3 innings this spring.

Porcello, who makes his second start tonight, had an exciting first start. He pitched two shutout innings against Team Panama and didn't allow the ball out of the infield.

Thus Porcello prevented the thing that, according to Perry, he excels at in golf. Long drives.


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PostSubject: Re: FREE PRESS TIGER'S NEWS   Thu Mar 26, 2009 9:08 am

It's Tigers' turn to confront harsh economy
Season tickets down, but fans may luck out

BY SHAWN WINDSOR and JON PAUL MOROSI • FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITERS • March 26, 2009

Matt Bengle of West Bloomfield has bought Tigers season tickets for the last 12 years. This season, Bengle decided he could no longer afford them. There were many reasons for his decision, but none more pressing than this: "My wife lost her job," Bengle, 33, said.

It is a familiar scenario to sports fans in Detroit these days. High unemployment, inflationary living costs and dwindling income are forcing thousands of fans to make difficult choices. The Lions felt it last fall -- although that team's horrid play only hastened declining attendance. The Pistons -- and to a lesser degree the Red Wings -- felt it this winter.

Now it's the Tigers' turn. Only the Michigan economy is far worse and scarier than even last fall. The Free Press has learned that the Tigers have lost a significant chunk of their season-ticket base.

That means less revenue for the team and, under most logical business models, less money to spend on players. But because owner Mike Ilitch has not slashed the payroll -- the Tigers' will be among the top five again -- about the only difference fans will notice this spring is more elbow room at Comerica Park.

Last year, the Tigers had sold some 27,000 season tickets at this time. This year, that number has dropped to roughly 15,000.

Ron Colangelo, the Tigers' vice president of communications, would not confirm or deny the 15,000 figure, saying: "We're going to let our sales and marketing efforts continue through Opening Day."

He added that the team had "seen increased activity lately" but did say the economy had made selling tickets "a challenge across the board."

Even at 15,000 season tickets, though, it would be the fourth-highest total ever for a team that started with the American League in 1901.

The Tigers' performance last season doesn't help, of course. In fact, manager Jim Leyland predicted the decline in September when the region had long since given up on his team.

"We're going to have to earn them back, like we did in 2006," he said then. "... If you want somebody to spend their hard-earned money with you, you've got to give them a good performance and a good product. We have a great product. We just haven't given them a great performance."

No one would argue that an improvement on the field won't mean an improvement in attendance. But the Tigers know they are fighting more than a last-place finish.

Last year, the Tigers drew a team-record 3,202,645 fans -- or 39,538 a game to a park with a capacity around 41,000. If they take the lower base this year and win the fans back with an incredible season -- like 2006 -- maybe they will end up with attendance similar to what they had in '06, which was 2,595,937.

That would be a decrease of around 19%. Despite the drop, the Tigers' season-ticket base is still expected to rank in the middle of the 30 big-league teams. Their payroll, meanwhile, remains near the top. The Tigers spent roughly $134 million on player payroll last year. That figure is expected to be around $127 million this season -- a decrease of around 5%.

Ilitch's apparent willingness to spend beyond the team's ticket revenues could enable the Tigers to remain competitive despite the economic downturn.

That is good news for Tigers fans. Ilitch, who turns 80 in July, appears committed to putting a winner on the field, even if his profits shrink. (In Forbes' last rankings, for 2007, the franchise made $5 million and its value jumped from $357 million to $407 million.) However, the spending that produced the high payrolls in recent seasons took place in more robust times for the national and local economies. Since one year ago Wednesday, no Tiger has been signed to a multiyear contract, and the team adopted a more conservative approach during the most recent off-season.

The Tigers didn't sign a high-profile free agent, acquiring players generally ranked in the middle or lower salary tiers at their respective positions: shortstop Adam Everett, catcher Gerald Laird, starter Edwin Jackson and closer Brandon Lyon. That decision, at least in part, wasn't just because of money. An interview with Ilitch from last fall helps explain why:

"That would be the last thing I'm going to look at," he said of the payroll. "I'm not afraid to go out and spend money. It has been very costly, but I'm not going to change my ways."

As for the club's off-season free-agent philosophy, he said: "I don't know if this year is the year to go after people. I'm more concerned about getting the team in shape and seeing what we've got and who are the real Detroit Tigers."

Ilitch has deep enough pockets to keep spending despite the drop in ticket sales. He'd better. The club -- provided Magglio Ordoñez returns (he has vesting options in his contract for 2010 and 2011) -- already has committed $99.6 million to nine players for next season. That's only one-third of the roster. Nor does it include a shortstop, second baseman, catcher, closer or setup man. The expected salaries for pitchers Justin Verlander and Jackson are not factored in either because they are eligible for salary arbitration but not under contract.

Ilitch's traditional commitment to paying high salaries might be a good thing for the team's chances in the long run. The problem is that most fans can't operate that way.

Said Jay Dunstan, a commercial photographer from Royal Oak who declined to renew his tickets this year: "Since 2005, the price of my tickets more than doubled. My income didn't."

What cost Dunstan about $8 a seat a game four years ago now costs him some $19 a game. They were good seats, he said, but hardly premium -- he sat three rows from the wall in rightfield.

Yes, his daughter is getting married this year and that is a financial consideration, he said. But the simple truth was that he could no longer afford the tickets, just as Bengle couldn't.

Part of the reason for the increase in prices was that when the team got better, the interest grew, allowing the Tigers to charge more. Also, the team's payroll exploded. The Tigers increased the prices on some tickets after last season, including about 40% of seats eligible for season-ticket sales.

Some perspective: In 2005, the Free Press learned, the Tigers sold just more than 11,000 season tickets. The next year they sold 10,000. That season the club made the World Series. And by late summer, tickets were difficult to find.

(The Tigers figure season tickets based on a combination of its 81-, 41-, 27- and 15-game plans. Two 41-game plan tickets, for instance, would equal one season ticket.)

In 2007, the season-ticket base nearly doubled, jumping all the way to 19,000. Then last year, with the buzz created by adding premier slugger Miguel Cabrera to give Detroit what many considered the best lineup in the game, season-ticket sales shot up to 27,000.

Hard to believe that was only a year ago. It feels like a lifetime, before the economy crashed, before the most anticipated baseball season in recent memory unfolded under a haze of sloppy, indifferent play. By the end of the summer, the Tigers knew their streak of increased season-ticket sales was finished.

Leyland said last year that the Tigers "might be short a few to start the season next year ... (but), it's a great baseball town. They've proven that, day in and day out. If we play well, we'll get them back."

In years past, that was true. But putting a winner on the field doesn't guarantee Matt Bengle's wife a job, or increase the salary of Jay Dunstan. Not that either expects it would.

Colangelo said the team's ticket staff "will work to accommodate their budget," referring to fans such as Bengle and Dunstan. He added that the team had made available more $5 parking spaces and created a $5 value meal for adults. He said that many fans, to save money but keep seats, had cut from 81-game to 41-game packages and that initial single-game sales had been encouraging.

Still, he acknowledged the team braced for the changing sports landscape, that it saw signs in the off-season.

"When the renewals went out, it was a slow response," he said. "And that was a strong indication of the economy affecting our business."

Just ask Bengle. For the first time in 16 years, he won't be watching baseball in person on Opening Day.

Contact SHAWN WINDSOR at 313-222-6487 or swindsor@freepress.com. Contact JON PAUL MOROSI at 313-223-4097 or jmorosi@freepress.com.


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PostSubject: Re: FREE PRESS TIGER'S NEWS   Fri Apr 24, 2009 8:17 pm

JON PAUL MOROSI'S BLOG
Zumaya in K.C. with Tigers: 'All my nightmares started here'

By JON PAUL MOROSI • FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER • April 24, 2009

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya has rejoined his teammates and will probably return to the active roster for Saturday’s game, manager Jim Leyland said today.


Zumaya was among the first Tigers to arrive at Kauffman Stadium today. (The rest of the players, aside from starter Rick Porcello, didn’t reach their hotel rooms until 6 a.m., after a long flight from the West Coast.)

Shoulder issues have prevented Zumaya from pitching for the Tigers so far this season.

“It all started here -- all my nightmares started here,” Zumaya said, in reference to the finger injury he sustained here in 2007. “I think it’s going to be good now, man. I’m happy to be back with the team.”

Two more updates, prior to the three-game set:

• Royals closer Joakim Soria will be unavailable for this series because of a sore shoulder. Soria didn’t allow an earned run in seven appearances against the Tigers last year, so his absence could have a big impact on this weekend’s games.

John Westhoff, the Tigers’ vice president/baseball legal counsel, presented Gary Sheffield with a gift in commemoration of his 500th home run in New York today. The team had purchased the gift for Sheffield last year. The slugger was released by Detroit at the end of spring training and then hit the benchmark homer for the Mets.


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PostSubject: Re: FREE PRESS TIGER'S NEWS   Sun May 24, 2009 10:01 am

Tigers hot topics

May 24, 2009

Thumbs up

What a relief! A consistent ingredient of the 2006 Tigers run to the World Series was the bullpen performances of Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney. The pair of right-handed relievers have been just as stingy in '09. Through Friday, Rodney was a 8-for-8 in save opportunities and Zumaya 1-for-2. The Tigers were also 19-2 in games that either pitcher appears in.

Thumbs up

Good medicine: With Carlos Guillen on the DL, his young, speedy teammates have picked up the slack in the outfield. Ryan Raburn has nine RBIs and three home runs in his last three games through Friday; Clete Thomas and Josh Anderson have both shown strong arms in the field while hitting around .300. If this production continues it should allow Guillen time to get completely healthy.

Thumbs up

Homer happy: Will there be a Tiger in this year's Home Run Derby? Curtis Granderson and Brandon Inge deserve consideration. As of Friday, only Carlos Pena (14) and Jason Bay (13) had hit more homers than Inge's 12 in the AL. And only Justin Morneau's 12 separate Granderson's 11 from the group.


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PostSubject: Re: FREE PRESS TIGER'S NEWS   Sun May 31, 2009 9:24 am

LOWEDOWN
Too early to claim AL flag for Tigers

BY JOHN LOWE • FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER • May 31, 2009

BALTIMORE -- It's always better to be in first place than anywhere else. But it's a bit too early to declare that because the Tigers have held first place for a few weeks they're the favorites to win the AL Central.

Q:So, why aren't the Tigers the early favorites?

A:May is the most deceptive month of the season. It seems like a lot of the season has gone by, but it hasn't. We're not even to the one-third mark. As The New Yorker's Roger Angell and others have observed, June is when baseball begins. Today is May 31.

Q:What's the strongest reason to believe in the Tigers' title chances so far?

A:It came Monday in Kansas City, when the Tigers took over the league lead in ERA. As we all know, pitching is the biggest factor in baseball. In 2006, the Tigers ranked in the middle of the league in runs scored, but they led the league in ERA and made the playoffs. In 2007, they had a thunderous offense, but they finished ninth in the league in ERA and didn't make the playoffs.

Q:What's one big thing we don't know yet about the Tigers?

A:Whether they'll be able to win enough games at the homes of two of their division foes, Minnesota and Chicago. They're 0-4 at those two venues so far. It's hard to believe they can win the division without winning several of their remaining 14 combined games at those two places. They open a five-game series in Chicago a week from Monday.

Q:What's the biggest concern for the Tigers from within?

A:Unlike at the start of the season, it's not the bullpen. It's when they'll start to get power production from the No. 3 and No. 5 spots. At the start of the season, those spots belonged to Magglio Ordoñez and Carlos Guillen, respectively. Ordoñez hasn't hit for power, and at times he has been dropped in the order. Guillen doesn't have a homer, and now he's on the disabled list, and his return doesn't appear imminent.

Q:What's the biggest concern for the Tigers from elsewhere in the division?

A:There are two. Their names are Zack Greinke and Joe Mauer. Each has performed like an MVP so far, and MVPs often lead teams to championships.

Q:How can Greinke be the MVP? Sure he's 8-1 with a 0.84 ERA. But he pitches only once every five days.

A:Yes, but like other MVP pitchers of the past, he affects far more games than the ones he pitches. Greinke keeps the Royals out of losing streaks. He gives the bullpen a breather because he always goes deep in the game and has five complete games. By assuming the ace role, he allows other starters not to feel the burden of being the staff leader. And Greinke's season creates a buzz and a confidence around the club that extends to the games he doesn't pitch.

Q:Isn't Justin Verlander pitching almost as well as Greinke?

A:If Verlander keeps pitching as he has since late April (a Greinke-like 0.85 ERA and a ton of strikeouts in his last six starts entering Saturday), he can be for the Tigers what Greinke is for the Royals. He could offset Greinke's impact.

Q:Didn't Mauer miss all of April? How can he be an MVP candidate already?

A:In May, Mauer did enough for April and May combined. Entering Saturday, he was hitting .417 in May with 11 homers (two more than all of last season) and 32 RBIs. Mauer won his second batting title last season, but now, at 26, he has become a power hitter for the first time. If he and Justin Morneau (14 homers, 45 RBIs, .346 average entering Saturday) keep this mashing up all season, they'll rank as one of the most fearsome back-to-back combos of sluggers in a long time. And they might well take the Twins to the division title, presuming Minnesota gets enough pitching.

Q:What about Cleveland? Will the Indians remain a non-contender all season?

A:It's way too early to say. The Indians might be the classic club that needs the first few months to get its team figured out. Minnesota was eight games under .500 in early June 2006 but overtook the Tigers for the division title on the season's final day. When the last-place Indians rallied from a 10-0 deficit -- and a 10-4 deficit in the ninth -- to beat Tampa Bay on Monday night, they showed they have life. They then beat Tampa Bay the next three days, too. So if the Tribe gets all the pieces in the right places, both on the infield and in the lineup, it might become a contender yet.

Q:Fausto Carmona has been inconsistent. Do the Indians have someone to step up and replace him as a No. 2 starter behind Cliff Lee?

A:You'll never guess who's doing that job. It's Carl Pavano, whom the Tigers almost signed five years ago and who then did almost nothing for the Yankees. He has been steady all season -- so far. But as we said at the top, the season is really starting only now.

Q:So when might we really be able to tell if the Tigers will win this division?

A:Well, in two of the last three years, this division has gone down to the final game of the season.


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PostSubject: Re: FREE PRESS TIGER'S NEWS   Sun Jun 14, 2009 9:53 pm

PITTSBURGH 6, DETROIT 3
Willis: 'It’s unacceptable the way I played' in loss

By VINCE ELLIS • Free Press Sports Writer • June 14, 2009

PITTSBURGH — Leave it to Jim Leyland to be the wet blanket.

There was a little excitement brewing among the Tigers over the weekend because starting pitcher Dontrelle Willis was set to get a chance to bat for the first time since he left the National League — Willis has a career batting average of .234 with eight homers and 35 RBIs.

But when asked about Willis’ hitting prowess, Leyland gave a small grin and said: “Him hitting will be the fun part, but I’m concerned about the pitching, not the hitting.”

Leyland proved prophetic Sunday as Willis was around long enough for one at-bat — a weak groundout to the pitcher.

He again struggled with his control, walking eight and allowing six earned runs in 3 2/3 innings in the Tigers’ 6-3 loss to the Pirates.

“It’s amazing, because one hitter he’s right there and then another he’s not even close,” Leyland said. “I don’t really know that it’s mechanical, I just don’t know the answer.

“But it’s been a little bit of issue, obviously, for a while.”

The Tigers lost two of three in the interleague series to one of the weaker National League teams, and Willis (1-4) didn’t give them a chance — leaving the left-hander to take full responsibility for the loss.

“Today was just unacceptable,” Willis said. “I can’t put my team in that situation. You can’t beat anybody pitching like that, and it’s tough to pitch when you’re in a jam every inning.”

That pretty much summed up Willis’ day. He walked in two runs in the first when the Pirates scored three runs, and his two walks in the fourth led to three more runs in the fourth where his day was finished after two outs.

“I’m going to finally have to do something or somebody else has to go out there to help this ballclub win,” Willis said. “I appreciate Skip for giving me the leeway to go out there, and it seems like every time I go out there I go one step forward and two steps back.”

That was Willis’ way of saying that even he is growing weary of putting his team in a bind with the control issues he has suffered since joining the Tigers last season.

Pitching coach Rick Knapp said he will try to keep things positive with Willis.

“We treat every outing as a new outing,” Knapp said. “We won’t get involved in negativity.”

Pirates starter Ross Ohlendorf (6-5) was a model of control with only two walks in six innings; the Tigers managed only five hits. The Tigers scored nine runs during the series, leaving Leyland exasperated.

“We just look like pretty much throughout the lineup we don’t know how to knock in a run,” Leyland said. “We just give at-bats away.

“RBI situation? We just totally give at-bats away throughout the lineup. That’s throughout the lineup. That’s not just one or two guys. Obviously the big focus in Dontrelle, but we got five hits.”


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PostSubject: Re: FREE PRESS TIGER'S NEWS   Sun Jun 14, 2009 10:44 pm

Division lead hinges on improving offense

BY VINCE ELLIS • FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER • June 14, 2009

PITTSBURGH -- A lot has gone right for the Tigers, who have a solid lead in the American League Central.

Starters Justin Verlander, Edwin Jackson and Rick Porcello have been dominant on the mound and the infield defense has been so solid that manager Jim Leyland usually praises one infielder after each game -- erasing memories of last season's shoddy defensive efforts.

But if the team has any designs on holding onto its division lead and doing some damage in the postseason, the sluggish offense needs to pick up.

There are two avenues to improvement -- either established hitters such as Magglio Ordoñez and Placido Polanco must return to their previous forms or general manager Dave Dombrowski needs to go shopping.

You would think that given the fact that Leyland, 64, has been a big-league manager for 18 seasons and is probably nearer to the end of his career than the beginning, he would want to do whatever is necessary to procure whatever it takes to get the Tigers over the hump.

And he is -- but only up to a certain point.

"I think whenever you have a chance to make a run at it, you make a run at it, but I think you do it in the overall confines of the overall picture," he said before Saturday's game against the Pirates.

In other words he thinks the organization should think long and hard before trading someone like prized Triple-A Toledo outfield prospect Wilkin Ramirez for short-term gain -- if it hurts the long-term plan of the organization.

"I think they've got good arms down below," Leyland said. "I think they got better position players than people think down below so I think they can feed this club for a period of time."

He pointed to the contributions minor leaguers Clete Thomas and Jeff Larish have made to the Tigers this season.

And he said he thinks the organization is deep in pitching and has position players with potential.

"I think the organization is in pretty good shape. I really do," Leyland said. "Ramirez can be an all or bust. But if he's all, he's something."


BONDERMAN UPDATE:
Starting pitcher Jeremy Bonderman was matter-of-fact when he rejoined the team a day after the examination of his surgically repaired right shoulder by Dr. James Andrews in Florida.

He was placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday as he officially was shut down, but Bonderman definitely sounded like a guy who wouldn't be pitching anytime soon.

"From what Dr. Andrews says, I still have a long ways to go," Bonderman said.

MORE ON STANLEY: Leyland, who lives in Pittsburgh, marveled at the competiveness between the Penguins and the Red Wings during the seven-game Stanley Cup finals that ended in a wild celebration in western Pennsylvania on Friday night.

Leyland also talked about how fortunate Pittsburgh has been to have to superstar duos -- the current one of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and the old-school one of Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr.

"They've had the one thing that draws people and that's superstars," Leyland said.


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PostSubject: Re: FREE PRESS TIGER'S NEWS   Tue Jun 16, 2009 3:17 pm

DREW SHARP
Thrilled by Wings, Mike Ilitch hopes to help pennant push next

BY DREW SHARP • FREE PRESS COLUMNIST • June 16, 2009

There's no off-season for Mike Ilitch, who fluidly swapped sticks for bats Monday.

After a final salute to a highly successful hockey season at Joe Louis Arena, Ilitch headed for Comerica Park and a meeting with Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski. Ilitch has a first-place baseball team, and he said he would do whatever was necessary to ensure the Tigers remained in first place -- even if that meant adding more to an already inflated payroll.
"We're going to do whatever we've got to do," Ilitch said. "We're three games in first. What are we going to do? There are a lot of things that we can do. We're going to try to improve one way or the other."

Ilitch, who turns 80 next month, is a smart businessman. He knows that winning makes him more money, but it's not forgotten that he remains inherently an idealistic sportsman. He always has understood the confluence of sports and civic self-esteem.

Ilitch said he recently tried sneaking into an area mall. He made arrangements in hopes of attracting as little attention as possible, but a couple of people approached him nonetheless.

"They were shaking my hand and thanking me for the efforts," Ilitch said. "I think the Red Wings and the sports teams got closer to the public, and they appreciate each other even more when times are tough."

Irked at NBC, of course


Ilitch's mission now is maintaining that emotional connection through the Tigers this summer. Keeping the turnstiles moving at Comerica Park in the throes of the worst economic climate of his adult life would be a sleight of hand worthy of the greatest magician.

"I've lived in this city all my life -- born here," he said, "and in probably the most crucial year so far that I've never seen the fans so excited and so feeling a part of togetherness and pulling for each other."

Ilitch said he was nothing more than another nervous fan at the Joe during Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"The other years we kind of sailed through with hardly any problems, and it's been repetitious that way through the years as far as no complications," Ilitch said. "But I think with what we went through added to it somewhat, as far as the injuries. That's not totally the answer. It was a combination of a number of things. ... I didn't have a good comfort level. I had my concerns."

Ilitch said he wasn't pleased with the NHL's submission to NBC, ensuring that the first two games of the finals would be played back-to-back in prime time on weekend evenings regardless of when the series began. He thought the Wings didn't have enough recovery time from their litany of injuries after eliminating Chicago in the Western Conference finals.

"That's not hockey," he said of the early scheduling. "They took a high risk there."

But don't confuse that with snubbing Pittsburgh's resolve. Ilitch said the Penguins were a very good team and certainly a committed one.

A time to rise up

Ilitch said his objective now was doing what's best for the city.

"I'm dealing with politicians," he said. "I'm dealing with business people. I'm dealing with sports people. You get a good grasp of the picture from the standpoint of what's really going on.

"But I'm proud of the boys. I'm proud of all the teams.

"And now, I'm going to pull for the Lions like crazy."

Is there any way he could buy them?

If he needs help, he could easily find several thousand investors.

Contact DREW SHARP: 313-223-4055 or dsharp@freepress.com.



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PostSubject: Re: FREE PRESS TIGER'S NEWS   Thu Dec 10, 2009 10:14 pm

Posted: Dec. 10, 2009
New Tigers have their say

Outfielder Austin Jackson and pitchers Phil Coke, Daniel Schlereth and Max Scherzer talk about joining the Tigers:

Coke, who pitched for the world champion Yankees this season: “The winning attitude that was instilled in me by the New York Yankees is a perfect fit for the Detroit Tigers. I’m willing to do anything and everything I can for the organization to try to win one for the city. I want to do it (win the world title) again, and Detroit is a great place to go about getting back in the postseason and putting a whupping on somebody.”

Coke said that if the Tigers want him to start, he’ll start. (He’d fill their vacancy for a left-handed starter.)

“I want the ball no matter what,” Coke said. “I don’t mind the title that I have. I may be labeled as a reliever, but I’m just as capable as a starter. If you want me to go nine innings, cool, no problem.”

Jackson, on having the chance to become the Tigers’ everyday centerfielder: “It’s exciting. You’re getting a chance to get your foot in the door and get your career started at the major league level.”

Jackson said this season the Yankees had him stop doing a leg kick as he swung. “That helped me drive the ball to rightfield more,” said the right-handed hitter. “I was able to recognize pitches better.”

Schlereth: “I’m excited. … My fiancée is from western Michigan. Her name is Bree Workman. She went to high school in Lansing, and now her folks live in Ionia. Her whole family is Tigers fans and obviously very excited about this. It’s an exciting situation. We met when she was a gymnast at the University of Arizona.”

Schlereth pitched at Arizona with Ryan Perry, whom the Tigers drafted in the first round last year — five spots before Arizona took Schlereth. “I imagine I’ll talk to him in a day or two,” Schlereth said. “We get along great, and it should be a fun year for us.”

Scherzer: “I know (the Tigers) are a very historical and rich-in-tradition organization. It’s a great organization because they put all their resources into winning. As a player and a competitor who wants to get into the playoffs, that’s all you can ask for.”

Discussing a few of his new rotation mates, Scherzer said: “I try to watch (Justin) Verlander a lot because he’s a tremendous power pitcher. I might not have the same stuff he does. But he’s a big strikeout pitcher, and I try to see on TV how he does it. I got to see a little bit of (Rick) Porcello in that playoff game. He looked like an up-and-coming star. I’m really excited to join this rotation.”


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PostSubject: Re: FREE PRESS TIGER'S NEWS   Thu Dec 10, 2009 10:24 pm

Gotta love the positive attitudes.
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PostSubject: Re: FREE PRESS TIGER'S NEWS   Sun Feb 14, 2010 10:30 pm

Posted: Feb. 14, 2010
Verlander-Greinke similar to another showdown

BY JOHN LOWE
FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER

How's this for an Opening Day?

The Tigers' best pitcher of his time faces the reigning American League Cy Young winner. The Tigers play their first game since the loss of a popular, power-hitting, left-handed-hitting outfielder.

That will be the case when the Tigers open in Kansas City on April 5.

But all those circumstances also hung in the New England air 22 years ago, April 4, 1988, at Fenway Park.

Jack Morris started that opener against Boston's Roger Clemens, the right-hander who had just won his second straight Cy Young. The Tigers on that day began life without Kirk Gibson, who had signed with the Dodgers as a free agent in the off-season.

Morris gave up three runs in the fourth to relinquish a 2-0 lead. Clemens allowed the tying run in the sixth. Each starter left after nine innings. In the 10th, reliever Lee Smith made his Boston debut, and Alan Trammell hit a two-run homer over the Green Monster. The 5-3 win remains one of the Tigers' most memorable season-opening triumphs.

On this Opening Day in Kansas City, Justin Verlander will be in line to face Zack Greinke, the near-unanimous Cy Young winner. The Tigers' leadoff hitter won't be Curtis Granderson. After the left-handed-hitting outfielder hit 30 homers last season, he was traded to the Yankees.

Granderson will have a hard time doing more in his first Yankees season than Gibson did in his first Dodgers season. That '88 season began with Trammell's triumphant homer, but his buddy Gibson wound up having the big year. He was the National League's MVP, and the Dodgers -- electrified when he hobbled to the plate with two outs in the ninth in Game 1 of the World Series and hit the one-handed game-winning homer -- upset Oakland in five games to win the World Series.

Tryout in Lakeland: The Tigers will hold a tryout camp at their minor league spring training complex in Lakeland, Fla., on March 8. Registration for the camp begins at 8 a.m., with the workout beginning at 9 a.m. The tryout camp is for players 18-23, or those players with previous professional experience. There is no preregistration or participation fee. For more information, go to detroittigers.com.


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PostSubject: Re: FREE PRESS TIGER'S NEWS   Sun Nov 21, 2010 10:19 pm

Posted: Nov. 21, 2010
The breakdown on the big-hitting free agents

By JOHN LOWE
FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER

Let's look at how the four big free-agent hitters would fit on the Tigers. Each would fill the Tigers' stated need for a big bat:


Victor Martinez: He is the only one of the four who is a switch-hitter and who can fill the need for a No. 2 catcher. He would be the primary designated hitter.

Carl Crawford: He has never started in the fifth spot. He has spent his career in the top-three spots -- logical, given that he has averaged 50 steals a season. But if the Tigers bat Crawford third and haven't signed another big hitter, they'd still lack an established hitter for the fifth spot who would decrease Miguel Cabrera's intentional walks. And if Crawford stole second with Cabrera at bat, teams could then walk Cabrera.

Crawford, 29, might have grown into a run producer who can hit fifth. This season, he set career highs in RBIs (90, while hitting primarily second) and slugging percentage (.495). With the Tigers, he could continue to play left, and Ryan Raburn and Brennan Boesch could share right.

Adam Dunn: Cabrera's career high in homers -- 38 -- is Dunn's low in the past seven seasons. Would Dunn, a career-long National League player, accept being the full-time DH? He has started nearly 1,000 games in left but didn't excel there. A leftfielder with range is important at spacious Comerica Park.

This season, Dunn became a full-time first baseman, which he wouldn't be in Detroit because of Cabrera.

Jayson Werth: For the Tigers, he seems the longest shot of the four. He is the only one who hits only right-handed (the Tigers need left-handed hitting), and he is represented by Scott Boras, who's known for prolonged negotiations. It's hard to see why the Tigers would wait for Werth when they could sign one of the others.

Contact JOHN LOWE: 313-223-4053 or jlowe@freepress.com. Read more in his Tigers blog at freep.com/tigersblog and follow him on Twitter @freeptigers.


Read more: The breakdown on the big-hitting free agents | freep.com | Detroit Free Press http://www.freep.com/article/20101121/SPORTS02/11210667/The-breakdown-on-the-big-hitting-free-agents#ixzz15yPIxoAU


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PostSubject: Re: FREE PRESS TIGER'S NEWS   Sun Mar 20, 2011 10:02 pm



Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera / AP


Rounding the bases with the Tigers
1:55 AM, Mar. 20, 2011
BY MATTHEW CAMMARATA
DETROIT FREE PRESS
SPECIAL WRITER

Will Phil Coke's transition from the bullpen to the starting rotation be smooth?

So far, so good for the converted starter. Coke has pitched more innings than any Tigers starter this spring. He has a very solid 2.70 ERA and 3-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Though he had a rocky start Wednesday, Coke is slotted for the fourth spot in the rotation -- which should break up the four right-handed starters nicely.

How will the injuries to Carlos Guillen and Joel Zumaya affect the Tigers?

Both Guillen and Zumaya will stay in Florida for rehab assignments and start the season on the 15-day disabled list. The Tigers have grown accustomed to having them out of the lineup. Scott Sizemore could be the beneficiary of Guillen's temporary roster spot. Last year's Opening Day second baseman has had a less-than-impressive spring training but could find himself on the team by default. In the bullpen, there are plenty of candidates to take the last bullpen spot, including Adam Wilk (0.87), Fu-Te Ni (1.00) and Robbie Weinhardt (3.12).

Miguel Cabrera, above, seems to be back to his old self

The Tigers' first baseman had a rough start to the spring with his embarrassing DUI and a 4-for-23 clip at the plate. Lately though, Cabrera has been on fire, hitting 11-for-21 with three homers, six doubles and 12 RBIs so far this spring. He leads the team in almost every offensive category, seems to be in mid-season form and told reporters last Thursday that he is ready for Opening Day.

Who gets the backup outfielder spots?

Brennan Boesch, Andy Dirks, Clete Thomas and Casper Wells have all made a good case to make the team, but only one or two of them will. Entering Saturday, Dirks was batting .364 and Thomas was hitting .308. Boesch has looked a little more like the 2010 first-half version of himself by hitting .280 in 16 exhibition games while Wells has held his own, batting .321. Boesch seems to have the slight edge because he has had the most success at the big-league level.


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PostSubject: Re: FREE PRESS TIGER'S NEWS   Sun Mar 20, 2011 10:47 pm

Tigers LHP Adam Wilk makes his mark
Braves' manager: 'He knows how to pitch'
1:54 AM, Mar. 20, 2011
BY JOHN LOWE
DETROIT FREE PRESS
SPORTS WRITER

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez took his first look Saturday at Adam Wilk, the rookie left-hander who is bidding for a spot in the Tigers' bullpen.

"I see him as someone who probably can help the Tigers as a situational left-hander," Gonzalez said. "He throws the ball over the plate. Our left-handers didn't get very good swings off him."


Wilk got routine fly-ball outs from all four hitters he faced. Two batted left-handed. One was leadoff man Jordan Schafer, and the other was Brian McCann, the catcher who last July doubled off hard-throwing White Sox left-hander Matt Thornton to win the All-Star Game.

Gonzalez was told that the Tigers' organization named Wilk as its minor-league pitcher of the year last season.

"He's not going to light up the radar gun, but it seems like he knows how to pitch," Gonzalez said. "It seems like he's got a pretty good breaking pitch, and it seems like the lefties don't get good swings off him."

Wilk, 23, has been a starter in his two years in the minors. He pitched in relief in his first two years at Long Beach State. "I know how to get loose out of the bullpen, so it wouldn't be a shock to me," he said.

Wilk is one of six apparent candidates for three apparently open jobs in the Tigers' bullpen. The other candidates are left-handers Daniel Schlereth and Fu-Te Ni and right-handers Robbie Weinhardt, Enrique Gonzalez and Brayan Villarreal.

(Jose Valverde, Joaquin Benoit and Ryan Perry have bullpen jobs secured, and left-hander Brad Thomas appears to have one, too.)

Saturday seemed like a good day to watch pitching. The wife and daughter of the late Mark Fidrych participated in the first-ball ceremony. Tigers owner Mike Ilitch watched the game from the Hal Newhouser suite, named for the Tigers' Hall of Fame left-hander.

Wilk relieved starter Rick Porcello in the fifth, and then Daniel Schlereth relieved Wilk. He retired all six hitters he faced, including the first four on fly balls. That meant eight consecutive Braves flied out against Wilk and Schlereth -- fitting, given how they're going for bullpen jobs that are, uh, up in the air.

Until Saturday's two-inning outing, Schlereth had pitched only 2 2/3 innings this spring. He missed time because of a strained hamstring. "You've got to get some innings in," Leyland said.

Weinhardt followed Schlereth for the ninth. He allowed a leadoff single, then got a groundout and a double-play ball.

Inge praises Ilitch: Third baseman Brandon Inge has played for Ilitch's team longer than any current Tiger -- 10 years. Inge and llitch spoke when Ilitch visited the clubhouse before the game.

"He's a great man -- he really is," Inge said. "He gets a bad rap sometimes because maybe he doesn't want to speak in the media as much as some other owners. I respect him because he wants to keep his business his business."

Ilitch didn't meet with the media on his visit to camp Saturday.

"I have a lot of respect for him not only because of what he's done for our ballclub and for the Red Wings, but for the community," Inge said. "He single-handedly made Detroit into something that people might want to go downtown for and have a good time."

Inge mentioned Ilitch's Fox Theatre and Hockeytown Café, both a block from Comerica Park. "I do respect where he came from and how he created his empire," Inge said.

Contact JOHN LOWE: 313-223-4053 or jlowe@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @freeptigers.


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PostSubject: Re: FREE PRESS TIGER'S NEWS   Mon Oct 24, 2011 12:57 am

Tigers recap: Who met, exceeded, fell below expectations
Oct. 23, 2011
BY MATTHEW CAMMARATA

DETROIT FREE PRESS SPECIAL WRITER

Far exceeded expectations

Alex Avila: The starting catcher for the American League All-Star team, Avila led all AL catchers in RBIs (82) and played in 141 games. Although Avila slowed down in the playoffs due to injuries, he surpassed all expectations entering the season.

Doug Fister: Fister came to the Tigers from the Mariners on July 30 and went 8-1 in 11 games with a 1.79 ERA. Fister was dominant down the stretch and, doing his best impression of Doyle Alexander in 1987, became the Tigers' definitive No. 2 starter.

Jhonny Peralta: Peralta had the best year of his career, finishing with a .299 average, 21 home runs and 86 RBIs. In being named to his first All-Star Game, Peralta also improved his defense, finishing second among AL shortstops with a .988 fielding percentage and showing better range.

Jose Valverde: Papa Grande finished 49-for-49 in save opportunities during the season -- then went 3-for-3 in the playoffs. Valverde led the AL in saves and appearances and posted a 2.24 ERA.

Exceeded expectations

Al Alburquerque: The rookie reliever immediately established himself as a key piece to the bullpen. However, he was not the same after getting hit on the head with a batting practice ball in mid-August. Alburquerque still finished with exceptional numbers, 6-1, 1.87 ERA and 67 strikeouts (in 43 1/3 innings).

Daniel Schlereth: Schlereth quietly had a solid season for the Tigers out of the bullpen. He pitched a career-high 49 games and posted a 3.49 ERA. The left-hander was especially effective against left-handed batters, holding them to a .174 average.

Victor Martinez:The Tigers' biggest free-agent acquisition last off-season, Martinez delivered in clutch situations and led the majors in average with runners in scoring position (.394). Although injuries limited Martinez to DH for the final two months, his production didn't suffer, posting a career-high .330 batting average and his fourth 100-plus RBI season.

Don Kelly:The quintessential utilityman, Kelly played seven positions for the Tigers -- including pitcher and catcher -- in 112 games and played solid defense wherever he was on the field. He also added some big hits in the postseason.

Delmon Young: Young cleared waivers and was traded to the Tigers in mid-August, and immediately became the starting leftfielder. He drove in 32 runs in 40 games, the same amount of RBIs he had in Minnesota in 84 games. Despite an oblique injury, Young provided plenty of power in the postseason.

Miguel Cabrera: The six-time All-Star won his first batting title, hitting a career-high .344, and set personal bests in on-base percentage (.448), doubles (48) and games played (161). Cabrera could finish in the top five for MVP voting for the fifth time in his career and has an outside shot to win the award.

Justin Verlander: The Tigers' ace had one of the best seasons among pitchers in recent baseball history. Verlander won the AL pitching Triple Crown, leading the league in wins (24), ERA (2.40) and strikeouts (250), and should easily win the Cy Young Award. He also could become the first pitcher to win the AL MVP since Dennis Eckersley in 1992.

Met expectations

Joaquin Benoit: The Tigers set the market for setup relievers when they gave Benoit a three-year, $16.5-million deal in the off-season. After early struggles, Benoit did not disappoint. He set a career high with 29 holds and posted a 2.95 ERA, becoming part of lockdown combination in the eighth and ninth inning with Valverde.

Rick Porcello: After an up-and-down first half, Porcello went 8-3 with 11 quality starts from July 3 on. Although the Tigers would like to see him improve his ERA (4.75), Porcello has proven he is a reliable middle-of-the-rotation starter and definitely improved from a disappointing 2010 when he went 10-12.

Max Scherzer: After a blazing start (6-1, 2.81 ERA in his first nine starts), Scherzer was inconsistent, finishing with a 15-9 record with 4.43 ERA. Scherzer had nine starts in 2011 in which he gave up at least five runs. He allowed 29 home runs overall. He had a terrific postseason -- until his Game 6 start against Texas.

Ramon Santiago: With injuries and lack of production plaguing the Tigers at second base, Santiago started getting more playing time and responded. Santiago's batting average was at .209 on June 27, but he batted .297 from that point on to finish at .260. He started throughout the playoffs.

Andy Dirks: The 25-year old rookie was the Tigers' fourth or fifth outfielder most of the season and posted respectable numbers despite not making the Opening Day roster. Dirks played good defense at all three outfield positions and made the postseason roster.

Brennan Boesch: An injured thumb cost Boesch the finish to a great season following an up-and-down rookie year in 2010. Boesch was well on his way to surpassing his offensive numbers from last year -- with 16 homers and 54 RBIs before thumb surgery. He should be the starting rightfielder in 2012.

Duane Below: The Michigan native pitched well at Triple-A Toledo and earned a couple spot starts in July. Although he didn't have much success as a starter (0-1, 4.66 ERA), Below was more effective as a long reliever in 12 appearances with a 4.19 ERA.

Danny Worth: In limited playing time, Worth hit a respectable .270 while playing third base and second base. Worth has shown over the past couple years that when there are injuries he can step in and won't hurt the team.

Wilson Betemit: The Tigers acquired Betemit from the Royals on July 20. He started well, hitting .292 with five homers and 19 RBIs in 40 games, but he suffered an injured left knee at the end of the regular season. He struggled following the injury and barely played in the postseason.

Below expectations

Phil Coke: Coke was supposed to be the No. 4 starter, but he never looked comfortable and returned to the bullpen in July. After the subpar rotation stint, Coke did meet expectations as a reliever -- with an ERA more than a full run lower (3.71) than he had as a starter (4.82).

Brad Penny: After an OK first half, Penny struggled down the stretch and finished with the second-worst ERA of his career (5.30). Penny finished with 13 quality starts out of 31 and had just four after the All-Star break.

Ryan Perry: Perry was sent to Toledo in his third season with the Tigers and finished with the worst ERA (5.35) of his career. Perry was more effective following his demotion to Triple-A.

Brandon Inge: A tumultuous, roller-coaster season for the longest-tenured Tiger saw the third baseman begin the year as the starter at that position, get placed on waivers and sent to Toledo in July before returning to the majors and regaining his starting spot in the postseason. Inge's .197 batting average and three homers in 102 regular-season games were some of the lowest numbers of his career.

Ryan Raburn: Raburn, given chances to start in leftfield and second base, again struggled in the first half. But, again, he had a solid second half. Raburn batted .341 after the All-Star Game to bring his average up to .256 but finished with the fewest homers (14) since 2008 and the most strikeouts (114) of his career.

Magglio Ordonez: After getting a $10-million, one-year contract, Ordonez again missed a chunk of the season due to injury. Ordonez, 37, played in 92 games and finished with 15 extra-base hits despite hitting in front of Cabrera in most games.

Brayan Villareal: Villarreal was relatively ineffective. The rookie right-hander posted a 6.75 ERA in 16 games and allowed a combined 31 walks and hits in 16 innings.

Well below expectations

Austin Jackson: Jackson fell hard into a sophomore slump. Jackson's average and OBP fell significantly from his stellar rookie season (.293 to .249 and .345 to .317) and his strikeouts increased (170 to 181), even after leading the league in strikeouts in 2010.

Will Rhymes: It's hard to believe Rhymes was the Opening Day starter at second base. The 28-year-old hit just .235 with no extra-base power in 2011.

Carlos Guillen: Injuries bothered Guillen, 36, for the fourth consecutive season. He played in just 28 games. His days as a Tiger figure to be over.

David Pauley: The forgotten part of the trade with the Mariners that brought Fister, Pauley was having the best season of his young career when he came to Detroit but really struggled as a Tiger. Pauley went 0-2 with a 5.95 ERA in 14 games and was left off the playoff roster.

David Purcey: Another disappointing reliever who came to Detroit after having success in the American League West, Purcey was acquired from Oakland for infielder Scott Sizemore and was terrible with the Tigers. Purcey was designated for assignment in early August, then went to Toledo.

Brad Thomas: After a good 2010 season in which he went 6-2 with a 3.89 ERA, Thomas struggled early in 2011 and landed on the DL for the duration. His final numbers were not pretty -- 9.00 ERA and 2.09 WHIP in 12 games.

Too little time to judge

Jacob Turner: The Tigers have high expectations for the 20-year old right-hander, but Turner was less than impressive in his debut. He was rocked in two of his three starts, but the youngster should get a chance to earn a spot in the rotation in 2012.

Also: Omir Santos, Andy Oliver, Adam Wilk, Robbie Weinhardt, Enrique Gonzalez, Luis Marte.




Tigers final averages


2011 regular season
BATTING _avg. _ab_ _r_ _h_ _2b_ _3b_ hr__ rbi_ bb_ so sb
Avila .295 464 63 137 33 4 19 82 73 131 3
Betemit .285 323 40 92 22 4 8 46 31 105 4
Boesch .283 428 75 121 25 1 16 54 35 83 5
Cabrera .344 572 111 197 48 0 30 105 108 89 2
Dirks .251 219 34 55 13 0 7 28 11 36 5
Guillen .232 95 8 22 2 1 3 13 5 16 1
Inge .197 269 29 53 10 2 3 23 24 74 1
Jackson .249 591 90 147 22 11 10 45 56 181 22
Kelly .245 257 35 63 8 3 7 28 14 32 2
Martinez .330 540 76 178 40 0 12 103 46 51 1
Ordoñez .255 329 33 84 10 0 5 32 23 41 2
Peralta .299 525 68 157 25 3 21 86 40 95 0
Raburn .256 387 53 99 22 2 14 49 21 114 1
Rhymes .235 85 13 20 3 0 0 2 11 12 1
Santiago .260 258 29 67 11 3 5 30 17 38 0
Santos .227 22 1 5 0 0 0 0 0 4 0
Sizemore .222 63 8 14 1 0 0 4 10 19 1
Wells .257 113 16 29 10 0 4 12 9 29 1
Worth .270 37 6 10 2 0 0 3 2 9 0
Young .268 473 54 127 21 1 12 64 23 85 1
Totals .277 5,563 787 1,540 297 34 169 750





PITCHING___ w-l__ era__ g__ gs__ sv_ ip___ h____ er__ hr_ bb_ so_
Alburquerque 6-1 1.87 41 0 0 43 1/3 21 9 0 29 67
Below 0-2 4.34 14 2 0 29 28 14 2 11 14
Benoit 4-3 2.95 66 0 2 61 47 20 5 17 63
Coke 3-9 4.47 48 14 1 108 2/3 118 54 5 40 69
Fister 11-13 2.83 32 31 0 216 1/3 193 68 11 37 146
Furbush 1-3 3.62 17 2 0 32 1/3 36 13 5 14 26
Gonzalez 0-0 10.00 8 0 0 9 12 10 1 7 3
Kelly 0-0 0.00 1 0 0 1/3 0 0 0 0 0
Marte 1-0 2.45 4 0 0 3 2/3 6 1 0 1 3
Oliver 0-1 6.52 2 2 0 9 2/3 11 7 3 8 5
Oliveros 0-0 5.63 9 0 0 8 8 5 0 4 4
Pauley 5-6 3.16 53 0 0 74 64 26 6 22 44
Penny 11-11 5.30 31 31 0 181 2/3 222 107 24 62 74
Perry 2-0 5.35 36 0 0 37 39 22 1 21 24
Porcello 14-9 4.75 31 31 0 182 210 96 18 46 104
Purcey 1-2 5.61 33 0 0 33 2/3 33 21 2 27 22
Ruffin 0-0 4.91 2 0 0 3 2/3 5 2 2 0 3
Scherzer 15-9 4.43 33 33 0 195 207 96 29 56 174
Schlereth 2-2 3.49 49 0 0 49 36 19 6 31 44
Thomas 0-1 9.00 12 0 0 11 17 11 1 6 7
Turner 0-1 8.53 3 3 0 12 2/3 17 12 3 4 8
Valverde 2-4 2.24 75 0 49 72 1/3 52 18 5 34 69
Verlander 24-5 2.40 34 34 0 251 174 67 24 57 250
Villarreal 1-1 6.75 16 0 0 16 21 12 3 10 14
Weinhardt 0-0 10.80 2 0 0 1 2/3 4 2 0 0 1
Wilk 0-0 5.40 5 0 0 13 1/3 14 8 3 3 10
Totals 95-67 4.04 -- 162 52 1,440 1,406


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: FREE PRESS TIGER'S NEWS   Sat Apr 14, 2012 12:10 am



Tigers owner Mike Ilitch in his suite during Saturday, April 7, 2012, at Comerica Park. / KIRTHMON F. DOZIER / DFP

Tigers owner Mike Ilitch driven to rebuild Detroit
11:47 AM, April 13, 2012
By Bob Nightengale

USA Today

Michael Prather walks unevenly down Montcalm Street past Comerica Park, where the Detroit Tigers will play in a few hours. He holds a whiskey bottle, clumsily covered by a brown paper bag, in his right hand. He requests handouts with his left.

Prather, 54, who says he's an unemployed general laborer, is wearing a stained black sweatshirt. His gray paints are torn. The reek of alcohol is overpowered only by the stench of his clothing.

"I know I don't look so good, and the city don't look good, either," Prather says. "But things will be better. They got to. There are good people trying to make this city better. The man over there, the one that runs the Tigers and our hockey team, he's trying. He's trying real hard. You got to admire that man."

That man is 82-year-old pizza baron Mike Ilitch, owner of the Tigers and Red Wings. He is fervently trying to resurrect life in his hometown of Detroit.

His downtown office might be surrounded by poverty and despair on the streets, but when Ilitch looks outside, all he sees is resurrection and revival. Once the fourth-largest city in the country, Detroit lost 25% of its residents in the last decade, and nearly one-quarter of its homes are unoccupied. But he thinks his city will return to prominence.

Ilitch and his wife, Marian, are worth about $2 billion, but he realizes it will take more than money for the city to fully recover. It will likely take more years than he has left. Yet he has a baseball team ready to jump-start the movement.

The Tigers, off to a 5-1 start and loaded with superstars Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, might just be the entity to help repair a city's self-esteem.

"I want to win the World Series," Ilitch, the son of Macedonian immigrants, tells USA TODAY Sports in a rare interview. "But not for me. For our community. Baseball has such a tremendous effect on a city. It would bring so much joy. It would mean everything."

Related: Mitch Albom talks with Ilitch before Opening Day

Ilitch is synonymous with Detroit. He owns Little Caesars Pizza. The Fox Theatre. Joe Louis Arena. Motor City Casino. The family holdings alone are responsible for bringing 10 million people into downtown every year, and his sports teams are worth an annual economic impact of $443 million, according to the Detroit Regional Chamber.

"If not for Mike Ilitch," says Emmett Moten, director of economic development for late Detroit Mayor Coleman Young, "there may not be a Detroit.

"He believed in us at a time when the city was fighting for survival. He brought the Tigers downtown and got the Lions to come along with him. He brought Fox Theatre back to life. If we didn't have all of that, what would Detroit have? I'm afraid we'd have nothing."

Says Bud Selig, Major League Baseball commissioner: "What Mike Ilitch has done for that city, sociologically, is stunning. Here is an owner that understood the social responsibilities as well as anybody could. Not everything might have been in his best interest, but it was in the best interest of Detroit and Michigan.

"It's hard to articulate just how much the Tigers mean to Detroit."

After amassing a fortune, winning four Stanley Cup championships and qualifying for the NHL playoffs in 21 consecutive years, Ilitch is desperate to win a World Series. He's paying the price. The Tigers' payroll of $132.3 million ranks fifth in baseball. And he stunned the industry when he invested $214 million in free-agent first baseman Prince Fielder in January despite already having an MVP-caliber first baseman, Miguel Cabrera, who will make $21 million in 2012.

"Fans want to see the stars," Ilitch says. "And if you want stars, you have to pay the price."

It might defy accounting logic, but Ilitch thinks the Tigers' first title since 1984 could lead the way to reinventing Detroit, returning vibrancy and faith to the city.

"I'm up in years, as you know, so it would really be special," Ilitch says. "It's been a great life.

"But winning a World Series, it would be like a banana split with a cherry on top."

The parking lot at Elizabeth and Witherell, across the street from the Fox Theatre, is nearly deserted at 8 in the morning. The only vehicle is a white Ford F-150 pickup.

It is the truck where seven men are tailgating eight hours before game time, cooking breakfast burritos and drinking Fireball liquor.

"This is what it's all about to be a Tiger fan," says Brad Henderson, 32, an electrician wearing a Brandon Inge jersey.

A city's self-esteem

Chris Chelios, the oldest NHL player to ever win a Stanley Cup, walks by and takes pictures with the tailgaters before heading back to his bar, Cheli's. The Hockeytown Café, featuring five floors and a rooftop, is soon packed. This is a big day. The Red Wings are playing the Chicago Blackhawks at 1 p.m., the Tigers are at 4, and Flashdance is playing at 7 at the Fox Theatre.

At night, just a few blocks away at the historic Cliff Bell's jazz club, the tables are jammed. This is where New York businessman Anthony Haralson, 44, and Detroit coffee shop owner Josh Greenberg, 40, are sitting. They are talking politics. They are talking Tigers. And they are talking Detroit, which soon will have its first downtown grocery store in generations, Whole Foods.

"I call myself a Detroit refugee," said Haralson, who traveled to Detroit to take his four nephews to the Tigers' home opener. "My heart is here. It will always be here. But when you're living in your folks' basement and can't find work, you've got to leave."

Said Greenberg, who has lived downtown for 19 years: "People are saying so much stuff about us, they want to us to die. They want us to crumble. We refuse."

Brian Johnson, 44, a former Stanford catcher who played for eight years in the major leagues, has lived in an affluent downtown neighborhood for 13 years. He bought his home for $485,000 and had it appraised a few years later at $650,000. Three years later, when he tried to refinance, the appraisal staggered him: $36,000.

"Our collective self-esteem is pretty low," says Johnson, who played for the Tigers in 1997. "Our city leadership is pretty bad. Our last mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick (charged with 38 felony counts, including perjury, obstruction of justice and corruption), was like a black Al Capone.

"But it's kind of a bunker mentality here. You don't want to leave. There's a lot of good people here. And sports provide a backbone for the city.

"It's like people are saying, 'We may live in a city that's (expletive), but our sports teams can kick your (expletive).'"

This is the strength and passion Ilitch envisions. Last Saturday morning, the city was eerily vacant, but by nightfall, the Red Wings had their 69th consecutive sellout, the Tigers sold out and had their largest crowd for a second game of a season since at least 1947, and the 5,000-seat Fox Theatre also was sold out.

"You're so appreciative, because the dollars are not easy around here," Ilitch said. "To draw 3 million people here (for the Tigers), wow. You put two and two together here, and it doesn't make sense. But it does here in Detroit."

Another auto bailout

Ilitch, relying on his own instincts, has made plenty of decisions that initially made little financial sense.

He moved his family headquarters' offices into downtown when everyone else was fleeing the city. He moved the Tigers downtown when he could have made more money moving to Ann Arbor or suburban Dearborn. He purposely limited stadium parking spots, forcing fans to park in neighborhoods and on downtown streets. He could make a fortune moving his Red Wings out of Joe Louis Arena. He vows to soon move, but they will be downtown and not in the affluent suburbs.

Ilitch cost himself perhaps $1 million in 2009 when the struggling automakers could no longer afford their lucrative advertising signage in centerfield at Comerica. Ilitch says he had plenty of companies offering to buy the spot. He told the Big Three automakers they could have the advertising for free.

"We were going though our darkest hours there," says Joel Ewanick, chief marketing officer for General Motors. "We told Mr. Ilitch, 'We've got to pull down our sign, because we can't make the payments.' He said, 'You pay us when you can.'"

The spot now has two Chevrolet cars sitting proudly in center field, a symbol for the automakers' resurgence.

"I told Mr. Ilitch on Opening Day," Ewanick says, "'I will never, ever, let anybody forget what you did for our company.'"

Ilitch's commitment is no different for his baseball team. Dave Dombrowski, Tigers president, broke the news to Ilitch on Jan. 17 that DH Victor Martinez was out for the season with a torn knee ligament. Ilitch listened quietly, conceded it was a cruel blow and said they'd talk contingencies the next day.

"I told him, 'There are some names that will appeal to you, but a lot are past the prime of their careers,'" Dombrowski recalls. "I said, 'There's only one difference maker out there: Prince Fielder.'"

Says Ilitch: "I didn't get that (gut) feel initially. I'm thinking, 'It's going to be very, very expensive.' But all of a sudden, I got that message, that gut instinct. I called Dave back and said, 'Let's see what we can do.' "

Fielder signed within a week. He received the largest contract in Detroit sports history, returning to where his dad, Cecil, became a star and ate barbeque after games with Ilitch.

"It means so much to me to be here," Fielder says. "It just shows you that we have an owner that will do whatever it takes. That means a lot to players. You just don't find that in the game."

Ilitch has never cared about bucking the trend, whether paying exorbitant salaries for his hockey players, taking on high-risk baseball players or even overpaying in the amateur draft when the Tigers gave Verlander a five-year, $4.5-million major league contract. Look who's laughing now, with Verlander winning the 2011 MVP and Cy Young awards and dominant again this year.

"I got balled out, we got wailed at by the commissioner (Selig)," Ilitch says. "But, hey, we got another star."

The right people

Ilitch, a former minor league shortstop for the Tigers, doesn't wear any of his Stanley Cup rings. He wears an NHL Hall of Fame ring on his left hand and a commemorative 2006 All-Star ring on his right.

He did have a Stanley Cup ring in his pocket once. It was during All-Star outfielder Magglio Ordonez's negotiations. Ordonez asked Ilitch just what he expected out of his team.

"I dug into my picket, and I pulled a Stanley Cup ring out," Ilitch says. "I told him, 'I want one of these in baseball.' "

If the Tigers do win the World Series, Ilitch vows, that championship ring will indeed be worn.

"Right in my nose," Ilitch says.

Says Ken Holland, general manager of the Red Wings: "I know he's proud of what we've done with the Red Wings. But after everything he's already accomplished in his life, winning a World Series would be bigger to him than anything. And I understand that."

Ilitch, who says he hates that the NHL collective bargaining agreement imposes a salary cap, ending his days of buying the game's greatest stars, is ecstatic that there are no restrictions in baseball.

MLB never had a salary cap; but until catcher Pudge Rodriguez signed a four-year, $40-million contract in 2004 with the Tigers, they couldn't get stars to Detroit. All-Star outfielder Juan Gonzalez was so eager to flee town after the 2000 season that he actually rejected an eight-year, $140-million extension.

The Tigers were dreadful, losing a combined 225 games in 2002 and 2003, and Ilitch blames himself. He didn't have the right front-office people, he says.

He changed that when he hired Dombrowski and then manager Jim Leyland. They won the American League pennant in 2006, one year after Ilitch lured Ordonez.

Last year, they won their first division title since 1987. Now they're among the favorites to win the World Series.

"You've got to have the right people in place," Ilitch says, pounding the table for effect, "or it's not going to work. It took me 10 years to figure that out here. If you bring in someone who's not qualified, you're in trouble. Deep, deep trouble.

"I've got good people now."

Ilitch brought back Tigers great Willie Horton, the only one he regularly permits to sit with him during games. He couldn't convince Hall of Famer Al Kaline to play on his professional softball team but persuaded him to be one of his special assistants.

He employs a highly diverse front office, with 50% (58 of 116) of the employees minorities or women.

He says he'd like to see a similarly robust leadership group within the city of Detroit; last week, the city agreed to a state-guided debt-restructuring plan.

"We've got the business groups here, the government there, and everyone has their opinions," Ilitch says. "They're confused what to do. It just hasn't been run well. I like (Mayor) Dave Bing. A great guy. But stepping in cold, there's not many people who could handle something like this.

"Once this all gets settled, we're going to surprise people. "

It will be a proud, vibrant city again, one Ilitch will forever cherish, he says, alongside the memories of the man who symbolized its prominence.

"When this city was great, it had Joe Louis," Ilitch says of the late heavyweight boxer. "He was a great champion. And a very humble man. Forget the auto industry. He had this city.

"He rubbed off on me. Try to be humble, be a good listener, and I think you'll have a happy life.

"I've had a wonderful life. It would be nice to have that final piece, but in sports, anything can happen. Just like in life. There are no guarantees.

"We found that out, right here in Detroit."

http://www.freep.com/article/20120413/SPORTS02/120413029/Tigers-owner-Mike-Ilitch-driven-to-rebuild-Detroit?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|Detroit%20Tigers


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
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