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 SPRING TRAINING NEWS 2009

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PostSubject: Re: SPRING TRAINING NEWS 2009   Sun Mar 15, 2009 12:31 am

Porcello scratched for Sunday
Beck's Blog

Just got back from the clubhouse, where the Tigers announced that Rick Porcello will NOT start on Sunday. He cut the nail on his right index finger on a ground ball during PFP, and will be held back for two or three days. Jim Leyland said he was told it was a 50-50 shot that he would be able to play.

"Fifty-fifty is not good enough," Leyland said. "I wouldn't pitch anybody who had that situation."

Alfredo Figaro will start Sunday against the Nationals instead.

* Posted on March 14, 2009 at 4:40 PM


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PostSubject: Re: SPRING TRAINING NEWS 2009   Sun Mar 15, 2009 8:57 am

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PostSubject: Re: SPRING TRAINING NEWS 2009   Mon Mar 16, 2009 8:43 am

03/15/09 7:56 PM ET
Relievers ready to step up, if needed
Zumaya's absence this spring creates potential opportunities

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

VIERA, Fla. -- Manager Jim Leyland said he has serious doubts about whether Joel Zumaya will be ready for Opening Day. Time will tell whether he'll have serious concerns about the way the Tigers' bullpen might look if it doesn't have its resident power reliever in three weeks.

Leyland predicted very early in Spring Training that his team would have either too much pitching or too little. He doesn't have an answer to that yet, mainly because Zumaya and Jeremy Bonderman still have yet to get back on a mound in a Spring Training game. Yet the pitching performances the Tigers have had over the past few days feeds some hope that Detroit might have enough in the bullpen to fill Zumaya's void for a little while.

With Sunday's 3-0 win over the Nationals at Space Coast Stadium, Detroit has tossed 16 consecutive scoreless innings since Toronto plated four runs in the first two innings against Dontrelle Willis on Saturday. Tigers relievers haven't allowed a run since Rene Rivera's two-run homer off Zach Simons in Friday's loss to the Mets. But in several cases, the strong relief performances have been going on for a while, in a couple cases for the entire Spring Training schedule to date.

It isn't a carryover effect, but individual efforts from players trying to win jobs are adding up to overall effectiveness.

"I think it's more individualized," said left-hander Clay Rapada, himself a candidate for a potential specialist role. "A lot of times you're trying to prepare yourself for the inning. You're not trying to read what's going on in the game. You might take what you can from the hitters."

With top prospect Rick Porcello scratched from Sunday's start, Tigers relievers had innings to take. They ended up filling the innings with zeros. The pitching lines included several arms that could be placed in roles if Zumaya opens the season on the disabled list.

"That's a pretty good day for us," Leyland said. "A lot of guys were out there today pitching."

After Minor League starter Alfredo Figaro scattered two singles over his three innings, Fernando Rodney continued his strong camp by retiring the Nationals in order on just eight pitches. Three of those were called strikes that he spotted on Nick Johnson to end Rodney's fourth consecutive scoreless inning.
With several relievers on the trip and only so many innings to go around, that was it for Rodney, who could begin the season as the primary setup man if Zumaya isn't ready. Rodney's struggles last year would make that a cause for concern, but the stuff and command he has shown this spring are quietly easing some minds.

Rodney's successor Sunday, Juan Rincon, duplicated the job of getting in and out in eight pitches, an accomplishment considering his first pitch hit Josh Willingham.

Rincon regrouped to move ahead in the count on Ronnie Belliard. He came back and induced a ground ball to first that allowed Willingham to advance on the hit-and-run play.

Three pitches later, Rincon was out of the inning. To get there, Rincon again moved ahead with a first-pitch slider before inducing a soft line drive from Javier Valentin that allowed Adam Everett to make an easy catch and tag second base for the final out -- with Willingham again in motion.

Rincon extended his scoreless Spring Training to seven innings on two hits. The non-roster invitee is slowly building encouragement that he can be effective again with the slider that flustered many hitters during his days with the Twins.

Given Rincon's setup and middle-inning experience from his years with the Twins, he could be valuable, versatile depth for the Tigers if they doesn't have Zumaya on April 6. But he also has to make sure he can consistently deliver the stuff to go with it.

"I think he's one of those guys you just keep watching," Leyland said. "He's throwing the ball pretty well, I think. He's located the ball pretty well. He's got valuable experience in big situations, so that's one little niche for him."

Rincon gave way to Casey Fien, who turned in his strongest performance so far with two innings of two-hit ball and three strikeouts. He now has fanned six batters in as many innings, and still has yet to walk a batter. Fien has just 12 appearances at Triple-A Toledo, but his penchant for attacking the strike zone with relative precision has earned him notice.

"He looked good," Leyland said. "The track record says he's a strike thrower."

Rapada managed to escape a bases-loaded, no-out jam with back-to-back strikeouts -- including a three-pitch fanning of right-handed hitter Lastings Milledge -- and went to an 0-2 count on Kory Casto before his deep fly ball to right field sent Brennan Boesch crashing into the fence for the catch. Scott Williamson fell behind in the ninth before settling down for the save.

The innings left potentially one of the more intriguing relief pieces in the bullpen. First-round Draft pick Ryan Perry was on the trip, but didn't get in the game. He hasn't had an appearance since last Tuesday against the Cardinals, whom he's now scheduled to face Monday.

Leyland said Sunday he'll keep a couple of pitchers in camp a little longer than planned while Zumaya's status is still in question. He didn't name them, but with a Monday appearance now scheduled, Perry isn't likely to be among the next round of cuts.

"You have to take it day by day, whether they're sending me down or not," Perry said.

If Zumaya ends up making up for lost time, he'll join Rodney and likely closer Brandon Lyon as Detroit's late-inning trio in a bullpen that could have more depth than expected. If Zumaya opens the season on the DL, the Tigers have at least given themselves several different directions they could go to fill the spot, whether it's the veteran hurler on the comeback or the prospect with Major League stuff.

The past few days, at least, have been a positive direction.

"I think we had a very productive day," Leyland said.

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


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PostSubject: Re: SPRING TRAINING NEWS 2009   Mon Mar 16, 2009 8:26 pm

03/16/09 11:34 AM ET
Iorg, Avila among six cut by Tigers
Half-dozen players had been expected to start in Minors

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Shortstop prospect Cale Iorg and catcher Alex Avila were among a half-dozen players the Tigers sent out as part of their second set of roster cuts.

Right-hander Chris Lambert, infielder Michael Hollimon and outfielder Casper Wells were optioned to Triple-A Toledo, while right-hander Zach Simons was optioned to Double-A Erie. Iorg and Avila, both non-roster invitees, were assigned to Minor League camp. The moves trimmed the Tigers' Spring Training roster to 49 players, including five who are currently with their national teams for the World Baseball Classic. None of the moves were particularly surprising in that the players involved were expected to open the season in the Minor Leagues.

Iorg, coming off his first full professional season, is generally seen as the shortstop of the future. A Florida State League All-Star with Class A Lakeland last year, the 23-year-old went 1-for-9 with four strikeouts in six Spring Training games while committing four errors, including three in one game Feb. 27 against the Blue Jays. He'll likely open the season at Double-A Erie.

Avila, the son of Tigers assistant general manager Al Avila, already was a familiar face with the organization while growing up. His first Spring Training as a pro saw the 22-year-old make a very favorable impression with his overall composure and his work with Tigers pitchers. He went 4-for-7 over his six Spring Training appearances with a double and four RBIs.

Hollimon is expected to open the season in the infield at Triple-A Toledo, where he'll be insurance for the Tigers if one of their middle infielders is injured. Simply being able to start the season healthy is a big step for the 26-year-old, who underwent surgery last September to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder but has been on the aggressive end of the recovery timetable.

Hollimon played in just four Spring Training games, going 0-for-5. He missed time earlier this month after a throw pulled back the nail on his right middle finger.

Wells, too, made an impression in his first camp as a pro after being added to the 40-man roster over the offseason. The 24-year-old played all over the outfield during his eight games, going 2-for-12 with seven strikeouts. He'll play a role in the Mud Hens' outfield and could be in line for a callup if the Tigers need an extra outfielder at some point this season.

Lambert was an outside candidate to compete for a spot on the pitching staff after making three starts and five relief appearances with Detroit last season, but his early struggles included a six-run inning against Team Panama. He's expected to reprise his role in the Mud Hens' rotation and serve as a possible insurance starter if the Tigers have injuries in the rotation over the course of the season.

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


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PostSubject: Re: SPRING TRAINING NEWS 2009   Tue Mar 17, 2009 12:27 am

Pitching coach stresses location over velocity

BY JON PAUL MOROSI • FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER • March 16, 2009

VIERA, Fla. -- Rick Knapp spent the past 12 seasons as the minor league pitching coordinator for the Minnesota Twins, an organization that values pitch location over pitch velocity.

So, after only several weeks as the Tigers' pitching coach, Knapp can bring proper perspective to the most urgent question of an increasingly frenetic spring:

Is it possible for left-handers Nate Robertson and Dontrelle Willis to regain -- or even approach -- their past effectiveness while throwing fastballs that are markedly slower than they once were?

During their outings this spring, it has become apparent that Robertson and Willis won't be able to overwhelm hitters any longer. They must learn to change speeds and locate -- the doctrine Knapp has taught for more than a decade.

"All those years, the other organization I was with, we never emphasized velocity," Knapp said Sunday, not mentioning the division rival by name. "It was the product of what we did with deliveries and throwing strikes."

The theory is simple enough:
A pitcher with an efficient, repeatable delivery has a better chance to throw quality strikes -- at a consistent velocity -- than one whose mechanics vary from pitch to pitch.

After a substantial investment of time -- and money -- Willis' delivery remains a work in progress, more than one year into his tenure with the team. Three years ago, his fastball reached 93 and 94 m.p.h. On Saturday, it ranged from 84 to 90.

One scout noticed a simple trend during Saturday's game: When Willis threw with a consistent arm slot, his velocities were higher.

"You can see, there's times where he feels for the release point, as opposed to just letting it go," Knapp said.

When asked what he believes has caused Willis' overall decrease in velocity, Knapp said, "I think it's a little bit of everything. It's arm strength. It's delivery. It's mental."

More so than velocity, the overriding concern with Willis remains his lack of control. He has walked eight batters in nine innings this spring. Barring a dramatic improvement in that ratio, he's unlikely to win a job in the rotation -- and may not make the team at all, despite the $22 million left on his contract.

Robertson has walked fewer batters than Willis but has not thrown as hard. Less than three years after reaching 94 and 95 m.p.h. on a television radar gun during a 2006 playoff game, Robertson averaged between 85 and 86 on Saturday.
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After the game, in which Robertson threw three scoreless innings, manager Jim Leyland suggested that Robertson "continue to get a little better understanding of the type of pitcher he is now." Knapp made similar remarks on Sunday, saying, "I think Nate's starting to figure out that he can't consistently pound the ball inside and be effective (against) right-handed hitters."

Willis and Robertson are scheduled to pitch on Thursday, although neither will start against a major league opponent. Robertson will start in a 12:30 p.m. intrasquad game at Joker Marchant Stadium; Willis is slated to pitch in relief of Jeremy Bonderman during that night's road game against the Atlanta Braves.

THE REST OF THE ROTATION: Top prospect Rick Porcello had been scheduled to pitch on Sunday, but he was scratched after sustaining a cut on the index finger of his throwing hand. Leyland said he will start Friday's home game against the Washington Nationals. ... The other starters for this week: Zach Miner today, Justin Verlander on Tuesday, Edwin Jackson on Wednesday (in an intrasquad game).

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


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PostSubject: Re: SPRING TRAINING NEWS 2009   Tue Mar 17, 2009 7:03 pm

Big step forward for Verlander
Beck's Blog

I know Verlander said after his outing last week that he was working on his delivery, but still, no pitcher wants to fly past the 50-pitch mark after two innings, even if it's just a Spring Training game. So after going six innings in less than 70 pitches (I had him at 68), Verlander was understandably pleased, and so were the Tigers.

"It was a big step forward, no doubt," said Verlander, referring to his mechanical tweaks. "I think it kind of worked itself into my delivery quicker than I expected."

Verlander's velocity is up compared to the same point as last spring. More important, he said, is that he's throwing harder without too much effort.

Manager Jim Leyland said he thought Verlander's curveball today was probably better than he had all last season. And he was encouraged that Verlander used it first pitch at times for called strikes to get ahead of hitters.

"Today, you saw an outstanding Major League pitcher," Leyland said, "and what he should be most of the time."

Other notes ...



  • Marcus Thames and his strained abdominal muscle are on track to return to action as soon as this weekend.
  • If you read the Twitter page today, you might have seen that Polanco fell and stayed down on Geoff Blum's pop-up behind first base, which ended up being a sac fly. Polanco hit his head on the track, but he was fine and stayed in the game for a few more innings.
  • Leyland on Casey Fien: "He likes to play. As a pitcher, he's a ballplayer. He's the [Will] Rhymes of the pitching staff." Also said that he's in the mix for a bullpen job.
  • That's nine innings of one-run ball so far for Eddie Bonine.

* Posted on March 17, 2009 at 5:21 PM


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PostSubject: Re: SPRING TRAINING NEWS 2009   Wed Mar 18, 2009 12:42 am



03/17/09 7:21 PM ET
Porcello's start for Tigers pushed back
Righty prospect expected to go up against Yanks on Saturday

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Opening Day is not in question for Tigers prospect Rick Porcello, wherever he starts the season. But a little cut underneath the nail of his right index finger is becoming a not-so-minor nuisance for his chances to open the year with Detroit.

What had been caution for the Tigers in skipping Porcello for a turn is now turning out to be a little longer delay. The 20-year-old right-hander, who has befuddled opponents and dazzled team officials this Spring Training, has been pushed back a day to a Saturday afternoon start against the Yankees at Tampa's Steinbrenner Field.

The tweak sets up a potentially big stage for Porcello, not to mention the Tigers. If manager Jim Leyland still wants to gauge how the youngster would react to a big-game situation in the Majors, that would be about as close of an atmosphere as he'll get to test him.

"If he's a legitimate candidate, I think this is a great thing," manager Jim Leyland said.

However, there's no assurance that Porcello won't have to be pushed back further. Porcello tried throwing on the side, but the cut opened up on him and let out a steady flow of blood. He'll need to throw a clean side session before making the start.

With Friday's assignment open, the Tigers moved back left-hander Nate Robertson a day to make the start at home against the Nationals. Robertson, coming off three scoreless innings and nine straight batters retired in his previous outing last Saturday, had been scheduled to pitch in an intrasquad camp game against several teammates Thursday afternoon. That game is now off.

Thus, three of the candidates for Detroit's fifth starter spot will pitch in three consecutive days, starting with Dontrelle Willis in relief Thursday night against the Braves at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex.

In other injury news, outfielder Marcus Thames was able to take full batting practice Tuesday morning as he works his way back from a strained abdominal muscle. Leyland said Thames could be ready to return to action this weekend. He hasn't played in a full week since making an attempt at a diving catch against the Cardinals on March 10.

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


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PostSubject: Re: SPRING TRAINING NEWS 2009   Fri Mar 20, 2009 5:26 pm

Tigers trim three players from roster

POSTED BY CHRISTIE INNES • March 20, 2009

The Tigers today optioned the contracts of catcher Dusty Ryan to Triple A Toledo and right-handed pitcher Alfredo Figaro to Double A Erie.

The team also assigned infielder Scott Sizemore to minor league camp.

Following today’s roster moves, 45 players remain in major league camp with the Tigers.


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PostSubject: Re: SPRING TRAINING NEWS 2009   Sat Mar 21, 2009 9:13 pm

03/21/09 6:26 PM ET
Last bench spot a tough call for Leyland
Skipper would like to have roster set before Atlanta exhibitions

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

TAMPA, Fla. -- The long Spring Training, as Tigers manager Jim Leyland said, is now a short one. And he has some decisions to make, including one last bench role that is seemingly going to be a tough one.

The Tigers will leave for Toronto in exactly two weeks. But with two exhibition games against the Braves in Atlanta beforehand, it's closer to a week and a half before camp breaks. Leyland would like to have his roster set before going to Atlanta.

"This is going to be tough," Leyland said. "The worst day for you is also the best day for you. Getting down to 25 [players] and telling people they didn't make it is the worst part. The best day is on the exact same day, when you've got your 25 and you're ready to go.

"It's like when you have a problem and you avoid it, and you look in the mirror and you know you're avoiding it, you feel terrible. And then all of a sudden you address the problem, and then you say, 'I feel good.' Right, wrong or indifferent, you feel good. That's kind of the way it is."

The final bench spot, Leyland said, is a little more complex than before. He didn't elaborate much, but as he went down the list of candidates, the various positions they play reflected a versatility question that Leyland will need to address.

"You've got Timo Perez quietly involved," he said. "You've got [Ryan] Raburn involved. You've got [Brent] Clevlen involved. You've got [Jeff] Larish involved. You've got [Mike] Hessman involved. Some are to a lesser degree, obviously, but it's become a little more complicated. And that's OK. It'll work out."

If the Tigers were simply looking for a pinch-hitter in that spot, Leyland said, he would take Perez, who has shown his bat in recent days while taking advantage of extra playing time with Detroit's starting outfield away for the World Baseball Classic. However, Leyland said, that isn't simply the case.

Perez plays the corner outfield spots. Clevlen, who's out of options, plays all three outfield positions. Larish can play in a corner outfield spot and the corner infield. Given that list of names, the other three bench spots would seemingly include backup catcher Matt Treanor, utility infielder Ramon Santiago and fourth outfielder Marcus Thames.

"I'll be happy when it's all said and done," Leyland said, "because more than likely in some cases, this is going to be very difficult."

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


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PostSubject: Re: SPRING TRAINING NEWS 2009   Sun Mar 22, 2009 5:02 pm

03/22/09 10:50 AM ET
Cuts trim Tigers' roster to 42 players
Righty Dolsi among three relievers pulled from Grapefruit League

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Tigers' bullpen competition was reduced by three players on Sunday. Detroit optioned right-hander Freddy Dolsi to Triple-A Toledo while assigning left-hander Fu-Te Ni and righty Casey Fien to Minor League camp.

All three are expected to be part of the bullpen with the Mud Hens, with a chance to rejoin the Tigers as the season goes along. Detroit, meanwhile, heads into the final couple of weeks of Spring Training with a few spots still open and a few potential candidates to compete for them.

Fien had put together an impressive camp for the Tigers, reinforcing his reputation as a strike thrower with 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball. However, the 25-year-old had just 12 appearances above Double-A last year, accumulating less experience than many of the club's other bullpen candidates.

By contrast, the 26-year-old Dolsi spent a good portion of last season in the Tigers' bullpen, making 42 appearances across 47 2/3 innings with Detroit while allowing just three home runs. But his 28 walks reflected a battle with command. Dolsi walked only one batter over 7 2/3 spring innings, including a perfect ninth inning for a save against Team Venezuela in a March 2 exhibition. He allowed four hits, however, in each of his past two appearances, resulting in three earned runs.

Ni was expected to at least start the season in the Minor Leagues for seasoning after signing with the organization from the Chinese Professional Baseball League during the offseason. Still, the 26-year-old left a good first impression with his funky delivery and deceptiveness. He tossed scoreless innings in each of his first three appearances before allowing two runs on three hits in two-thirds of an inning on Friday against the Nationals.

The moves leave 42 players still in camp, including 19 pitchers. How many will compete for relief spots in the end will depend in part on the fifth-starter competition, but the list of remaining relievers includes several non-roster invitees, from veterans Juan Rincon and Scott Williamson to former first-round Draft pick Ryan Perry and former Minor League Rule 5 Draft pick Eddie Bonine. Right-hander Alfredo Figaro also remains with an impressive camp so far, as do left-handers Clay Rapada and Kyle Bloom.

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


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PostSubject: Re: SPRING TRAINING NEWS 2009   Sun Mar 22, 2009 9:50 pm

KYLE BLOOM
DATE - OPP - DEC. - IP - H - R - ER - BB - SO
2/25 -- ATL -- SV-1 - 1.0 - 0 - 0 - 0 -- 0 -- 2
2/28 -- NYM -- ND --- 1.0 - 1 - 0 - 0 -- 0 -- 0
3/4 --- PAN* -- ND --- 2.0 - 1 - 0 - 0 - 1 -- 1
3/7 --- @PHI -- ND --- 1.1 - 3 - 5 - 4 - 1 -- 0
3/10 -- @STL -- ND --- 1.0 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 -- 0
3/17 --- HOU --- ND --- 1.0 - 1 - 0 - 0 - 0 -- 2

JEREMY BONDERMAN
DATE - OPP - DEC. - IP - H - R - ER - BB - SO
3/19 -- @ATL - ND - 2.0 - 2 - 0 - 0 -- 2 -- 0

EDDIE BONINE
DATE - OPP - DEC. - IP - H - R - ER - BB - SO
2/25 -- ATL -- ND -- 1.0 - 2 - 1 -- 1 -- 0 -- 0
2/28 -- NYM -- ND -- 2.0 - 1 - 0 -- 0 -- 0 -- 1
3/5 --- WAS -- ND -- 1.0 - 0 - 0 -- 0 -- 1 -- 1
3/10 --@STL -- ND -- 1.0 - 0 - 0 -- 0 -- 1 -- 0
3/14 -- TOR -- SV-1 - 3.0 - 1 - 0 -- 0 -- 0 -- 1
3/17 -- HOU -- ND --- 1.0 - 0 - 0 -- 0 -- 0 -- 2
3/21 -- @NYY - ND -- 1.0 - 2 - 0 -- 0 -- 0 -- 0

ARMANDO GALARRAGA
DATE - OPP - DEC. - IP - H - R - ER - BB - SO
2/27 - @TOR - ND - 2.0 - 1 - 1 - 1 -- 2 -- 1

EDWIN JACKSON

DATE - OPP - DEC. - IP - H - R - ER - BB - SO
2/26 - @WAS - ND - 2.0 - 0 - 0 - 0 -- 1 -- 3
3/2 --- FSC* -- W - 3.0 - 3 - 0 - 0 -- 1 -- 4
3/7 -- @PHI -- L-1 - 3.0 - 1 - 3 - 3 -- 3 -- 3
3/13 -- NYM -- L-2 - 4.0 - 3 - 4 - 4 -- 2 -- 2
3/18 - CAMP* - W -- 5.0 - 4 - 0 - 0 -- 0 -- 4

BRANDON LYON
DATE - OPP - DEC. - IP - H - R - ER - BB - SO
2/25 -- ATL - ND -- 1.0 - 2 - 3 - 0 -- 1 -- 0
2/28 -- NYM - ND -- 1.0 - 1 - 0 - 0 -- 0 -- 0
3/3 --- VEN* - ND -- 1.0 - 0 - 0 - 0 -- 0 -- 0
3/6 -- @NYY - ND -- 1.2 - 3 - 1 - 1 -- 0 -- 1
3/9 -- @FLA - L-1 -- 1.0 - 2 - 1 - 0 -- 0 -- 2
3/13 -- NYM - ND -- 1.0 -- 2 - 1 - 0 -- 0 -- 0
3/16 -- STL -- ND -- 1.0 -- 0 - 0 - 0 -- 0 -- 1
3/20 -- WAS -- ND -- 1.0 - 1 - 0 - 0 -- 1 -- 0

ZACH MINER
DATE - OPP - DEC. - IP - H - R - ER - BB - SO
2/25 -- ATL - ND -- 2.0 - 2 - 0 - 0 -- 0 -- 2
3/1 -- @PIT - L-1 - 2.0 - 7 - 5 - 5 -- 0 -- 1
3/5 -- WAS - W-1 - 3.0 - 2 - 2 - 2 -- 1 -- 1
3/10 - @STL - L-2 - 3.0 - 7 - 3 - 3 -- 0 -- 2
3/16 -- STL -- ND - 3.0 -- 5 - 4 - 4 -- 3 -- 4
3/21 - @NYY - ND - 3.0 -- 3 - 0 - 0 -- 0 -- 1


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PostSubject: Re: SPRING TRAINING NEWS 2009   Mon Mar 23, 2009 9:49 am

03/22/09 6:52 PM ET
Tigers shrug off no-hitter
Key pieces of Detroit's lineup on their way back from Classic

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Jim Leyland said he hadn't seen a no-hitter in his 47 years of Spring Training. Now that he's seen it, thanks to Ricky Nolasco and the Marlins bullpen, he can't wait to see some of his big hitters back in camp from the World Baseball Classic.

"Hopefully, help's on the way for our offense," Leyland said Sunday.

The way that offense has been going lately, they can't get back soon enough.

How much a Spring Training no-hitter means is open to interpretation. In some ways, it might actually be tougher to pitch one in Spring Training, when nobody pitches a complete game and several pitchers who won't make the team still need innings. Still, hitters are more worried about their own readiness for April than about winning that particular day.

"If it happens, it happens," Tigers hitter Jeff Larish said. "Nothing you can really do about it. You take it for what it's worth. It's Spring Training. Hitters are still trying to get in their groove. You've just got to tip your hat to the pitchers."

In the Tigers' case, the lineup was better known for who wasn't there. Miguel Cabrera, Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen spent Sunday traveling back to Florida from Los Angeles, where they had been playing as part of Team Venezuela in its Classic semifinal loss to Korea. Leadoff man Curtis Granderson won't be far after Team USA lost to Japan Sunday night.

Those players take up four of the top five spots in Detroit's projected Opening Day lineup. Take the Tigers' lineup Sunday, and just the top four hitters -- Ramon Santiago, Placido Polanco, Gary Sheffield and Marcus Thames -- appear assured of jobs on the 25-man roster when camp breaks. Three others -- Larish, Timo Perez and Mike Hessman -- are, to varying degrees, parts of the competition for the final bench spot. Dane Sardinha caught and batted ninth in place of Matt Treanor, who missed the game with an injured right groin.

The no-hitter, however, could arguably stand as a symbol of the larger offensive struggles Detroit has had this spring. Without those regulars, the Tigers have scored three runs or less in 11 of their last 15 games, including two shutouts -- both against the Marlins. They were held to one run over 11 innings of an eventual tie with the struggling Astros last Tuesday.

Manager Jim Leyland made note of his team's tentativeness at the plate in key situations following Thursday's 5-2 loss to the Braves. On Saturday, they had 11 hits with few runs to show for it in a 4-3 defeat to the Yankees.

Sunday, however, Leyland gave all the credit to Nolasco.

"There wasn't anything fluky about it. He was tremendous. He used all his pitches. He pitched ahead in the count -- changeups, curveballs, breaking balls, fastballs, sinkers. He's good. He's really good."

Whoever the hitters, Nolasco sent down them all down. Santiago's first-inning leadoff walk and a second-inning pitch off Larish's foot comprised Detroit's baserunners in Nolasco's seven innings, and Nolasco erased them both on ensuing double plays to face the minimum 21 batters in his outing.

Nolasco struck out five Tigers in a six-batter span, starting by fanning Thames and Larish in the fifth and continuing by striking out the side in order in the sixth with Gomez, Hessman and Sardinha. He didn't have any particularly solid threats until the later innings.

Two of the hardest-hit balls from the Tigers came from Santiago. His fly ball leading off the eighth inning against Dan Meyer took Cameron Maybin relatively deep into center field. Meyer gathered himself for back-to-back strikeouts.

After Alexis Gomez flew out to left leading off the ninth against Leo Nunez, Hessman hit a hard one-hopper that was seemingly headed past third baseman Andy Gonzalez until he made a stab at it with his glove.

That left pinch-hitter Don Kelly as the Tigers' last hope. Nunez got to two strikes on him before losing him to a walk. That put the potential tying run to the plate in Santiago, who hit a deep drive to right before the hook and the wind took it foul as Nolasco watched it fly over his head.

Nunez closed it out with a called third strike on the inside corner as Santiago backed away.

"Hopefully I can save some of those zeros for the season," Nolasco said.

The Tigers, obviously, are hoping to get rid of theirs. Getting back their regulars will help, but it won't reduce Leyland's worry so much as change it to the guys coming back and getting them enough playing time to be ready for Opening Day. Guillen has to prepare for left field after playing at designated hitter and third base in the Classic, while Granderson has basically been a part-time player under Team USA manager Davey Johnson.

"I have to believe they're going to need a lot of work," Leyland said. "I also believe we're going to have to be careful with them."

None of them are expected to make the long trip to Fort Myers, Fla., for Monday's game against the Red Sox, but they'll likely hit in some form during Tuesday's scheduled off-day before returning to game action Wednesday against the Mets in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

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


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PostSubject: Re: SPRING TRAINING NEWS 2009   Mon Mar 23, 2009 7:23 pm

03/23/09 10:00 AM ET
10 Tigers prospects to watch
Porcello, Perry, Larish getting long looks in Spring Training

By Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com

With the 2009 season quickly approaching, MLB.com takes a look at 10 of the Tigers' most intriguing prospects that you should keep an eye on.

Alex Avila, C: Don't think for a second this backstop is on this list only because his dad happens to be the team's vice president and assistant general manager. No, Al's kid is a player making a name for himself. The fifth-round pick in last year's Draft out of Alabama, Avila went straight to full-season West Michigan and more than held his own. The catcher hit .305 in 58 games and has a nice swing from the left side. He worked on his catching skills in the instructional league, and the argument could be made that he's the organization's top catching prospect. Growing up around the game, he clearly has some aptitude for it and seems to take instruction -- and apply it to his game -- extremely well.

Casey Crosby, LHP: Consider this the true start to the big left-hander's career. After being taken in the fifth round of the 2007 Draft, he signed too late to make his debut. Then he got hurt at instructs and required Tommy John surgery. He returned to make three appearances in the Gulf Coast League last summer. Now he's just getting his feet under him and can be fun to watch. He's a good athlete who's high-energy. He has a fastball that sits in the mid-90s, a breaking ball and a changeup. The lack of experience shows in the refinement of his breaking stuff. If he can harness what he has and continue to develop, he's got a very high upside.

Cale Iorg, SS: The son of Garth and nephew of Dane, Iorg is still playing catchup on the baseball field after missing two years during his Mormon mission to Portugal. He's an impressive athlete and has considerable raw tools. In his first full season (the Tigers signed him over-slot in the sixth round of the 2007 Draft), he played in Lakeland and hit 10 homers while stealing 22 bases. He also struck out 111 times in 99 games. A problem with his throwing shoulder cut his season short, but he made a lot of progress at instructs last fall. The pure talent, along with the good instincts (and bloodlines), should help Iorg close the gap even more in 2009 and the Tigers feel he could be their shortstop of the future. He just needs to play and let good things happen.

Jeff Larish, 1B/3B: There is no question about Larish, the Arizona State product taken in the fifth round of the 2005 Draft, and his power. He's hit 51 homers over the past two seasons, including his first two big league blasts during a callup last year. His pop is particularly prodigious to the pull side. He does strike out a bit -- 143 times in 485 at-bats in 2008 -- and may never be the kind of guy who'll hit for a high average, though he did bat .331 in the Arizona Fall League. He's getting a long look in big league camp, both at first and third. The left-handed hitter could settle into a role where he sees time at both corners and puts that power to good use.

Ryan Perry, RHP: The Tigers' 2008 first-rounder has hung around in big league camp for a long time. The University of Arizona standout can truly light up a radar gun, having hit triple digits in college and in his brief pro career. In big league camp, he was registering 97s and 98s without much effort. Couple that with a hard, power slider at around 88 mph and he's got all the makings of a future closer or short reliever. He's incredibly competitive, the type who wants the ball with the game on the line. The initial plan was probably to have Perry soak in the experience of life on the Major League side before being sent down. But with Joel Zumaya's status for Opening Day very much in question, there's a chance the 22-year-old flame thrower could end up in the Tigers' bullpen to begin the year.

Rick Porcello, RHP:
Like Perry, the plan was probably to let Porcello get a good amount of time in big league camp before he resumed his fast track to the Majors. But the 2007 first-rounder has made things very interesting by pitching extremely well and forcing his way into the conversation for No. 5 starter. Sure, he's only 20, but he's mature beyond his years, both in how he carries himself and how he pitches. He can crank the fastball into the upper-90s and also throws a heavy, hard sinker to induce ground balls. He's got a good feel for a changeup and his curve has the chance to be a plus pitch. Even if he does get sent down, it seems fairly clear he's going to be ready to contribute in Detroit at some point in 2009.

Wilkin Ramirez, OF: Ramirez started to put it all together in 2008, making the Eastern League All-Star team and participating in the All-Star Futures Game. He finished one home run shy of a 20-20 season, an indication of just what kind of tools the 23-year-old outfielder has. He still needs to work on his overall approach at the plate and recognizing pitches, a reason he struck out 149 times in 121 games. He's been working on his outfield play and while he's gotten better, he'll never be confused for a Gold Glover. He's been in big league camp and shown some good things, though it's clear he still has some things he needs to work on in the Minors.

Dusty Ryan, C:
There are two things that really stand out when you watch Ryan play: His plus arm strength behind the plate and his plus raw power when he's at it. He spent a good amount of his Minor League career struggling to tap into that power since being a 2003 draft-and-follow. Then things started working better with some adjustments in 2008 and he went from Double-A Erie to the big leagues, playing very well during his callup. He just recently got sent down from Major League camp. He's big for a catcher at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, but his arm can single-handedly shut down a running game. He still needs to find some consistency offensively, but he's moved into the big league picture and joins Avila as one of the best backstops in the system.

Ryan Strieby, 1B: Taken in the fourth round of the 2006 Draft, Strieby has been an All-Star in each of his two full seasons. But he really took off last year. In the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, the 6-5, 235-pound first baseman led the circuit in homers and RBIs while finishing second in slugging. He got better as the season wore on, hitting .251 in the first half and .308 in the second. He had a wrist injury at the end of the season and was dealing with a hand problem this spring. The Tigers want to get him back on the field to see if he can continue to consistently reach that power as he moves up the ladder. The one problem, of course, is the long-term contract of Miguel Cabrera, but that's a problem the Tigers will address when, and if, the time comes.

Casper Wells, OF:
A year ago, Wells was a little-known Minor League outfielder taken in the 14th round of the 2005 Draft who hadn't been able to establish himself in full-season ball. He began the year at West Michigan and hit well enough, with 10 homers in 50 games, though he batted .240. The Tigers double-jumped him to Double-A, where he performed even better, hitting .289 over 75 games with 17 homers, 53 RBIs and a .589 slugging percentage. He finished the year with 27 homers and 25 steals. From there, he went to the Arizona Fall League and finished among the leaders in homers, slugging and OPS. All that landed him a spot on the 40-man roster and some time in big league camp. Now he's back on the Minor League side, preparing to see if he can keep the good roll going.

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


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PostSubject: Re: SPRING TRAINING NEWS 2009   Mon Mar 23, 2009 7:27 pm

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PostSubject: Re: SPRING TRAINING NEWS 2009   Mon Mar 23, 2009 10:57 pm

03/23/09 8:00 PM ET
Bullpen has forgettable day vs. Boston
Lyon serves up four straight homers after Rodney struggles

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Part of the design on Brandon Lyon's T-shirt Monday included the words, "Never forget." He isn't going to follow that idea with Monday's performance, but he isn't going to wipe the slate clean yet, either.

Spring Training has been a process for Lyon, rounding out his game part by part and not getting excited over spring results. Still, Monday was obviously not one of the parts he had in mind. One day after the Tigers were no-hit by the Florida Marlins, Lyon's four home runs to four consecutive hitters brought out the regular-season record books again.

No Tigers pitcher has done it in a regular-season game, though former Tigers hurler Paul Foytack did it two weeks after Detroit traded him to the Angels in 1963. Lyon's homers aren't going into any record books, but Lyon isn't throwing them away yet.

"For me, one way of learning and making yourself better is by learning from experiences like this," Lyon said. "A lot of people say you want to forget about that last outing, but sometimes it takes getting in another game and having some better outings to get you going. To me, I've been good at that, where I've just taken it that night, learned from it, learned what I could've done better, sat down, thought about it, get there the next day."

Part of the lesson from Monday, Lyon said, is to stay focused.

Though Lyon had yielded just one earned run in eight Spring Training appearances before Monday's appearance, he had a few high-hit outings in that stretch, yielding five unearned runs on 11 hits over his 8 2/3 innings. Lyon's past two performances, including Friday against the Nationals, had been solid, as he rounded out his arsenal and mixed pitches.

A strong breeze blowing toward left didn't bode well Monday. Once Lyon fell behind his first few Red Sox hitters, he soon paid for it. He induced Jeff Bailey into a line out to second leading off the inning, but his 3-1 pitch to Mike Lowell ended up over the left-field fence. It marked the first home run Lyon surrendered this spring.

"I'm an aggressive pitcher. I throw strikes," Lyon said. "When I fall behind, I can't make those pitches so much over the plate like I can when I'm ahead in the count."

The next three long balls came quickly, all of them out to left. Lyon fell behind on Jason Bay, who hit a 2-2 pitch out. Chris Carter drove a ball a couple pitches later, then Ivan Ochoa battled out of an 0-2 hole to run the count full before going deep.

"I think he got behind hitters," manager Jim Leyland said. "And I think when he did, he threw the ball up in the strike zone, and the [wind] was blowing out. Period."

It was not one of those dead-arm days that pitchers experience in the second half of camp.

"I feel great," Lyon said. "I actually had a really live arm. I actually felt my arm felt great today and the ball was coming out good. When I made good pitches, they just fouled them off. The ones I didn't make, they hit them over the fence."

For the record, Foytack was the first to give up four successive home runs in a regular-season game, having done so to the Indians on July 31, 1963. One of the home runs came from Tito Francona, father of current Red Sox manager Terry Francona.

The latter was managing Boston on April 22, 2007, when the Red Sox homered four consecutive times off Yankees hurler Chase Wright. Lowell was part of that group, too.

Leyland, who said Sunday he hadn't seen a Spring Training no-hitter before, could add Monday to his list of firsts.

"I don't think I've ever seen it anywhere," Leyland said.

Lyon wasn't the only Tigers reliever struggling Monday.

Fernando Rodney preceded him in the fifth inning and gave up a leadoff walk ahead of three straight hits, including back-to-back RBI doubles from Jed Lowrie and Dusty Brown. Rodney was visibly frustrated after Brown's double, and he said later he wasn't pitching inside enough with his fastball.

"I think I have to mix more pitches," Rodney said.

Leyland hasn't officially named a closer between Lyon and Rodney, and he has hinted that he might not, letting their roles go unlabeled. Monday performances will play no factor in that.

All of it, of course, will fall out of memory quickly, especially if Lyon gets off to a fast start once the regular season begins and follows his history. He has always been an aggressive pitcher who will give up his share of hits, but he doesn't give up the long ball. Lyon surrendered seven homers in 59 1/3 innings for Arizona last year and just two over 74 innings as a setup man for the D-backs in 2007.

"I made some good pitches, and that's what I'm going to go forward on," Lyon said.

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


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PostSubject: Re: SPRING TRAINING NEWS 2009   Thu Mar 26, 2009 6:23 pm

Four cuts, Everett, Robertson fine
BECK'S BLOG

Lots of stuff today ...


  • The Tigers made four cuts today instead of the expected five. Don Kelly, Max St. Pierre and Alexis Gomez were sent to Minor League camp, while Wilkin Ramirez was optioned to Triple-A Toledo.
  • The moves included no pitchers. Nor did it include second baseman Will Rhymes, who remains in camp.
  • Adam Everett was walking around the clubhouse surprisingly well today, a day after he sprained his ankle. He thinks he can be back to action in 2-3 days.
  • Nate Robertson, meanwhile, has no structural damage to his sprained thumb. It's still pretty swollen, but he's hoping he can be back throwing in a few days. He thinks he might be able to pitch when his turn comes back around next Monday. "It's not out of the question," he said, "but it's not a sure thing."

* Posted on March 26, 2009 at 2:45 PM


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PostSubject: Re: SPRING TRAINING NEWS 2009   Fri Mar 27, 2009 10:57 pm

03/27/09 4:59 PM ET
Injuries will have say in Tigers' staff
Finding innings for all starter candidates remains a problem

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The many questions the Tigers face regarding injured pitchers are starting to get some answers. But the answer to which pitchers will fill out the pitching staff hasn't yet been given.

"We have major issues," manager Jim Leyland said.

Nate Robertson, who sprained his left thumb on a double-play throw Tuesday against the Mets, played catch Friday morning for the first time since the injury, giving hope that he should be ready for his next outing. When that next outing would be isn't set yet.

"He was throwing," Leyland said. "It felt better. He had pretty good grip and strength."


Reliever Joel Zumaya, who hasn't pitched in a game since March 2 with right shoulder soreness and a cramp, will move a step closer towards a return when he throws in a camp game Saturday afternoon at Tigertown. He's nearly certain to start the season on the disabled list, but his progress suggests he might not be out for long, barring another setback.

If it was a matter of going on a normal schedule of four or five days' rest, Robertson might've been on track to pitch on Monday or Tuesday. However, Armando Galarraga is scheduled to start Monday against the Nationals at Viera, Fla., on five days' rest. Rick Porcello is scheduled to start Tuesday for the back half of that home-and-home series at Joker Marchant Stadium. Wednesday's game against Atlanta could be open if Justin Verlander makes his final Spring Training start in a Minor League game, but the Tigers' rotation isn't yet set that far.

The good news for Detroit is that Jeremy Bonderman, whose camp-game performance Tuesday raised concerns about his velocity, is on track to start Sunday against the Braves. If he gets through that outing fine, he would presumably be all but set to open the season in the rotation, pitching anywhere between April 8-10. That would leave one rotation spot for the Tigers to fill between Porcello, Robertson and Dontrelle Willis, and not enough innings to stretch them all out.

"Most people aren't trying to get ready eight starters," Leyland said.

Leyland has an outline in his mind on how his bench will shape up, and he doesn't have as many bullpen decisions to make as he did earlier in camp. The starting decisions and the injuries, however, are pressing him.

"I've never been through anything like this," he said. "It's not that it's bad. It's just that that's what it is. We've got major issues going on. There's no question about that."

In other injury news, shortstop Adam Everett was able to do some limited motion work on his sprained left ankle, and there's some hope he might be able to return to game action in the next few days. Everett is not listed on the Tigers' travel roster for Saturday's game against the Blue Jays at Dunedin, Fla., so the soonest he could return is Sunday at home against Washington.

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


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PostSubject: Re: SPRING TRAINING NEWS 2009   Sat Mar 28, 2009 9:15 am

Saturday, March 28, 2009
Lynn Henning
Tigers' pitching troubles cloud season prediction

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- A friend asked the other day how many games the Tigers would win in 2009.

My response, which wasn't terribly precise, was 78 on the low end, 88 maximum.

That's the feeling six weeks into a camp that has been a manic-depressive exercise in baseball's ups and downs.

Healthy pitchers, who appeared to be rounding into shape early, have been fewer and fewer as the weeks have worn on, but could yet make the Tigers contenders. Setbacks of the kind that have been piling up in recent days will make 2009 look more like 2008.

The dark side could be detected in manager Jim Leyland's voice as he sat in the dugout ahead of Friday's 3-2 loss to the Braves.

"We've got major issues," Leyland said. "There's a lot of confusion right now with our pitching staff."

Most of the flux surrounds the starters.

Jeremy Bonderman still is in a comeback phase from his 2008 surgery. Nate Robertson and Dontrelle Willis haven't reassured anyone they can contribute.

A week before his team heads north to open the season at Toronto on April 6, Leyland can count on three starting pitchers:

Justin Verlander, who is back throwing the Cy Young-caliber pitches he showed during 2006 and '07;

Edwin Jackson, whose acquisition in December might have been a season-saver for the Tigers; and

Armando Galarraga, who should be steady in his second full season with Detroit.

That's it.

Robertson is out with a sprained thumb and except for one outing, has not thrown the ball with command.

Willis is fighting assorted issues.

Rick Porcello, who looked as if he would be a savior, missed a week with a cut finger and had trouble Thursday controlling his breaking pitches.

Without quality starts from the brunt of his rotation, this team will be lucky to finish .500.

Factor in a bullpen that could have its issues, and .500 looks like fantasy.

The positives

The flip side is that this team still could win an American League Central Division that isn't likely to be owned by any single club.

The reasons are these:


Starting pitching: Ironically, the same Achilles' heel that threatens to sabotage Leyland's crew could be its strength.

It depends on Bonderman. If the doctors are correct and his return to full velocity is simply a matter of getting the rust out, then he can stabilize the middle of the rotation and win 14 or 15.

Another reason the rotation can survive is Zach Miner, who can be used as a starter. He should provide on most days six innings of reliable work that keeps Leyland's team in a game.

Another potential plus is Porcello, who hasn't done anything to earn a trip to the minors. Even during Thursday's game, when he got into trouble early because of nerves and a balky breaking ball, he allowed one run.

The bullpen: Fernando Rodney should be fine, even if he has been erratic this spring.

Brandon Lyon is Todd Jones without the drama.

Joel Zumaya, the torch-carrier for Detroit's back-end bullpen corps, is likely to make it back, but perhaps not soon, because of his lingering issues.

Ryan Perry, a former No. 1 pick, however, looks like a replica of the 2006 Zumaya. Do not underestimate his ability to weld things together while Zumaya is healing.

Options plentiful

Granted, a lot of things that are presently wrong must go right if the Tigers are to eradicate that "confusion" of which Leyland spoke Friday.

But something Brandon Inge said Friday made abundant sense. He spoke about Leyland's pitching options -- about the sheer number of choices available.

"It's almost a better problem to have," Inge said. "There's a battle for a couple of spots because there are good arms out there. It could be worse. It could be that we had nothing and we need to be in the market."

What the Tigers are in the market for is health. But, as with a nation and its economic woes, right now it's tough out there.

You can reach Lynn Henning at (313) 222-2472 lynn.henning@ detnews.com.


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PostSubject: Re: SPRING TRAINING NEWS 2009   Sat Mar 28, 2009 9:33 am

What is missing from Hennings article is that:

- Starter Eddie Bonine has pitched well this spring (14 innings, 1 run scored, 3 BB, 7 SO), so he could be a starter or reliever.

- Reliever CLAY RAPADA has only had 2 bad games where he gave up 3 runs one time and 2 in the other, otherwise he has had pitched fine.

- Reliever JUAN RINCON has been very solid. 11.1 innings, 4 hits, 0 runs, 4 BB, 9 SO!!!

- Reliever BOBBY SEAY has had a great Spring. 12 innings, 2 runs, 2 BB, 11 SO!

And Fein did well, but has been sent down already. So he could be brought back up if needed.


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PostSubject: Re: SPRING TRAINING NEWS 2009   Sat Mar 28, 2009 10:07 am

we're doomed...
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PostSubject: Re: SPRING TRAINING NEWS 2009   Sat Mar 28, 2009 10:47 am

FROM 3/28/09 GAMEDAY PRESS PASS

THE LINE ON LAIRD:
Gerald Laird finished with two hits on Thursday night against Tampa Bay and he has now hit safely in six of his last seven games. During the seven-game stretch, he is hitting .524 (11x21).

TIGERS TIDBITS:
Brandon Inge
has hit safely in five of his last seven games
...

Gary Sheffield has reached base safely in
eight of his last 10 games
...

Eddie Bonine
has not allowed a run in his last eight outings, tossing 13.0 scoreless innings
...

Juan Rincon has not been scored upon in any of his nine appearances, tossing 11.1 scoreless innings.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
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GoGetEmTigers
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PostSubject: Re: SPRING TRAINING NEWS 2009   Sat Mar 28, 2009 10:48 am

Quote :
Juan Rincon has not been scored upon in any of his nine appearances, tossing 11.1 scoreless innings.

HERE IS YOUR TRUE CLOSER!


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laprimamirala
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PostSubject: Re: SPRING TRAINING NEWS 2009   Sat Mar 28, 2009 10:58 am

Funny how the best players are not so EXPENSIVE....
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PostSubject: Re: SPRING TRAINING NEWS 2009   Sat Mar 28, 2009 11:02 am

laprimamirala wrote:
Funny how the best players are not so EXPENSIVE....

very true!


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PostSubject: Re: SPRING TRAINING NEWS 2009   Sat Mar 28, 2009 11:04 am

I will admire mi Magglio forever but based on last season, he was overpaid. He put butts in seats, though, and that's what counts.
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PostSubject: Re: SPRING TRAINING NEWS 2009   Sat Mar 28, 2009 2:23 pm

Bullpen blues
Beck's Blog

It's only Spring Training, but it was pretty amazing how quickly Friday's game fell apart once Justin Verlander left the game. A leadoff error didn't help Fernando Rodney in the eighth, but the ensuing single and double put him in major trouble. He settled down to retire the next three batters and keep the game tied, but as manager Jim Leyland pointed out, he could've used that earlier.

"When the horse got out of the barn, Rodney showed that everything's fine," Leyland said. "But in a 2-0 game, you've got to come in there [like that] right away. I'm just grateful and thankful that he did have it and show it, and that's something that can be easily cured. But it was too late. The horse was out of the barn by the time he started throwing the ball."

That's four straight outings, including a camp game, in which Rodney has surrendered multiple runs after looking dominant for the first half of Spring Training. Total damage in that stretch: 12 runs, 11 earned, on 11 hits in 4 2/3 innings. Rodney had been working on a slider as a third pitch, which the Tigers had been encouraging last year, but expect to see a whole lot of fastballs and changeups from here on out.

Enter Brandon Lyon for the ninth, his first outing since giving up four consecutive homers to the Red Sox on Monday. He didn't give up an extra base hit, but after a leadoff walk, two singles sufficed to end it. The only batter he retired was on a sacrifice bunt. He has given up multiple baserunners in six of his last seven outings.

Again, it's Spring Training. But with Joel Zumaya now all but certain to stay back in Florida when the regular season starts, Rodney and Lyon are a little more important than if Zumaya was ready. What this means for Ryan Perry's chances of making the team remain to be seen, but it could make for an interesting decision. Leyland pointed out Friday that he doesn't have many decisions to make in the bullpen.

A few other notes before you go watch basketball ...

* Dontrelle Willis threw another side session today, according to Leyland, and had some encouraging results. He's now set to follow Jeremy Bonderman on Sunday. How many innings or pitches, I don't know.
* Joel Zumaya will be pitching in a camp game Saturday afternoon. If you're in the area and not going to Dunedin to watch the Tigers and Jays, the camp game supposedly starts at 1 p.m. ET.
* Yes, I did notice Omar Infante at shortstop today.

* Posted on March 27, 2009 at 6:44 PM


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PostSubject: Re: SPRING TRAINING NEWS 2009   Sat Mar 28, 2009 2:25 pm

Leyland: Bonderman "highly unlikely" for start of season
Beck's Blog

Add Jeremy Bonderman to the list of Tigers pitchers who likely won't be available at the start of the season. Given where his arm strength is and where it needs to be, manager Jim Leyland said, the Tigers aren't expecting him to be ready when the season begins in nine days.

"I would tell you today that, in my own personal opinion, it's highly unlikely that he will be ready for the season to start," manager Jim Leyland said.

He did not, however, assess the chances of Bonderman opening the season on the disabled list, and he said he still had no decision on when Armando Galarraga would start.

Posted on March 28, 2009 at 12:50 PM


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PostSubject: Re: SPRING TRAINING NEWS 2009   Sat Mar 28, 2009 3:23 pm

NO!


This is Bullshit


I am getting sick to my stomach already


Tired of these injuries


Tigers need a fast start out of the gate


They can't be 10 games out by Mid May
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PostSubject: Re: SPRING TRAINING NEWS 2009   Sun Mar 29, 2009 10:05 am

JON PAUL MOROSI
Tigers' 4th, 5th starters cryptic

BY JON PAUL MOROSI • FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER • March 29, 2009

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski doesn't know who his fourth and fifth starters will be. In fact, he doesn't know when he will decide who his fourth and fifth starters will be.

"I can't answer that," he said before Saturday's 5-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. "We talk about it all the time."

They are not alone. The Tigers' roster has been a fascinating topic of discussion for fans and media members alike. All the requisite subplots are there. The trade possibilities. The ambiguous injuries. The star pitching prospects. The player who represents a category of intrigue unto himself (Dontrelle Willis).

Each day, new morsels of information dribble forth. On Saturday, Dombrowski said he expects Nate Robertson (sprained left thumb) to recover by Opening Day. But we also learned that Jeremy Bonderman (shoulder) almost certainly won't be ready for the regular season.

The team charter leaves Thursday, and we still don't know for certain if some noteworthy players -- Robertson, Willis, Marcus Thames, Rick Porcello, Ryan Perry -- will be on it. But Perry's chances improved with his scoreless inning on Saturday. He displayed an overpowering fastball-slider repertoire and calmly pitched around an ominous-looking error.

"He's trying to make the team," Jim Leyland said. "I've been very impressed with -- I guess you'd call it -- his non-shakeablility. ... He's got a look about him. He's unflappable. ... He and Porcello both came in to make the team. That's what I believe. Are they going to make it? That's a different story."

The odds are in Perry's favor. After Zach Miner's abrupt reentry to the rotation derby, how many pitchers can be called locks for the bullpen? Dombrowski declined to provide a number on Saturday. But I count four: Brandon Lyon, Fernando Rodney, Juan Rincon and Bobby Seay.

Of that group, only Rincon and Seay have performed well this spring. Right now, at least, Lyon and Rodney don't look like the late-inning stalwarts they must be. The Tigers need more power arms. And Perry's is the best in their camp.

Eddie Bonine wouldn't qualify as a power arm but may have a chance to make the team. He's a strike-thrower who has allowed only one earned run in 14 innings this spring. He could be perfectly suited for long relief.

At the very least, the Tigers should learn more today against Atlanta. Bonderman is scheduled to start, followed in some order by Willis and Miner.

Willis showed improvement in his last outing, an intrasquad game last Tuesday, but his status is still murky. His agent, Matt Sosnick, told the Free Press on Saturday that starting Willis on the disabled list "is one of the many scenarios" the Tigers have considered. Stay tuned.

Due in part to the pitching concerns, the Tigers are listening to trade offers for outfielder Marcus Thames. They would prefer to populate their bench with less-expensive left-handed hitters. The Tigers have a decision to make about Thames by 2 p.m. Wednesday. If he's still on the team then, his one-year, $2.275-million contract will be guaranteed. (He would receive roughly $560,000 if he's cut by then.) Dombrowski declined to discuss Thames' status on Saturday, but he probably wouldn't mind seeing the perpetual home run threat put on a show for scouts in the coming days.

Thames, though, is still feeling the effects of the abdominal strain he suffered earlier this spring. He went 0-for-1 on Saturday and is hitting .188.

"Just keep getting treatment," Thames said Saturday, when asked about the injury. "It's getting better and better each day. I'm fine. I know my role. I'll be all right."

Meanwhile, the Tigers have a lot of big decisions to make. Big money. Big pressure. Big consequences. And now, suddenly, so little time.

Contact JON PAUL MOROSI at 313-223-4097 or jmorosi@freepress.com.


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