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 Pitchers vie for spots in Tigers rotation

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PostSubject: Pitchers vie for spots in Tigers rotation   Thu Jan 14, 2010 8:14 am

Last Updated: January 14. 2010 1:00AM
Pitchers vie for spots in Tigers rotation
Tom Gage / The Detroit News

Detroit -- Fine, but who goes?

If the Tigers sign Jose Valverde, one picture gets clearer while another gets more muddled.

Valverde would be signed as the Tigers closer. That's obvious. He's needed, but his presence also would intensify the competition for other openings.

As for the Tigers' hopes of signing Valverde, there were multiple reports on Wednesday that the St. Louis Cardinals have made him an offer as well -- but that the Tigers still have the only two-year offer on the table.

Jim Bowden, a former major league general manager and current XM Satellite Radio host, also twittered that Tigers general manager and president Dave Dombrowski admitted that the team's focus has turned to "the back end" of the bullpen -- and did not deny interest in Valverde.

For the rest of the pitching staff, the situation is this: The Tigers' list of candidates to make the staff, at this point, is deep. There's a clear void at closer, which appears to be getting addressed, and while depth elsewhere is not a problem, sorting out the depth could be.

There are seven candidates for five starting spots -- eight if you consider Alfredo Figaro has as much of a chance of earning a spot as Armando Galarraga or Dontrelle Willis.

And with Valverde on board, if indeed that becomes the case, the Tigers would have nine other relief pitchers attempting to wedge themselves into six other spots.
Currently, the Tigers have 20 pitchers on their 40-man roster. Valverde would either become the 21st or cause the Tigers to subtract a pitcher if they don't want to delete a position player.

Of the 20, rookies Jacob Turner and Jay Sborz clearly won't make the team this spring and Casey Fien would be the longest of the long shots.

Figaro has only a slim chance, too.

So who does that leave?

It leaves a rotation of Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello, Max Scherzer and Jeremy Bonderman as definite starters -- with Nate Robertson, Galarraga and Willis trying to win the fifth spot.

It also leaves a bullpen consisting of Ryan Perry, newly re-signed Joel Zumaya (if healthy), Zach Miner, Bobby Seay, and Phil Coke as likely to make it, along with Valverde if he signs -- with Eddie Bonine, Fu-Te Ni, Daniel Schlereth, and Brad Thomas trying to win the final spot.

Galarraga and/or Robertson also would have to be considered part of the mix for the bullpen depending on who wins the fifth starting spot.

Willis, meanwhile, is facing a make-or-break spring. Either he steps up and becomes the pitcher the Tigers hoped he would be, and have paid him to be, or they almost certainly cut bait.

But even now, with spring training more than a month away, the competition for jobs is taking shape -- and more than one pitcher will be surprised to find himself on the outside looking in.

tom.gage@detnews.com

Lynn Henning


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PostSubject: Re: Pitchers vie for spots in Tigers rotation   Fri Jan 15, 2010 12:27 am

I think I'd rather Gala get back on track and have him as a fifth guy.
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