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 Tigers News - FROM THE DETROIT NEWS 2009 Season

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PostSubject: Re: Tigers News - FROM THE DETROIT NEWS 2009 Season   Wed Dec 10, 2008 6:29 pm

Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Tigers: Notebook
Rodney still could close for Tigers
If inconsistent righty can throw more strikes, Putz or Hoffman would only serve as insurance.
Lynn Henning / The Detroit News

LAS VEGAS -- Dave Dombrowski said Tuesday that the Tigers might already have their 2009 closer: Fernando Rodney.

Rodney, who turns 32 in March, had a combative relationship with the strike zone in 2008, but he owns an arsenal that generally defines a bullpen closer: a fastball in the high 90-mph range and a devastating change-up.

"If he throws the ball great, he can close -- if he throws strikes," Dombrowski said, before adding, making clear that "if" is the challenge for Rodney "He'll be a free agent in a year (after the 2009 season)."

Dombrowski's point is Rodney understands the marketplace for top-shelf, back-end relievers and will be all the more motivated to put together a stellar 2009.

The Tigers, however, want insurance for the late innings, no matter who closes.

Rodney had his shot at becoming the Tigers' new closer last season as manager Jim Leyland held auditions to replace Todd Jones. Joel Zumaya, who was all along projected to win the job, faltered because of his shoulder problems, which made it Rodney's job to lose.

Rodney was given the chance to earn the closing job. But he saved just 13 of 19 chances.

Rodney now is pitching for the Escogido Lions in the Dominican Winter League. The right-hander has made one appearance: one inning, no hits, one strikeout and no walks.

Winter work

One Tiger enjoying a big winter is Matt Joyce , who has been playing for the Mexicali Eagles in the Mexican Pacific League.

Through 29 games, Joyce is hitting .300 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs. He has an on-base average of .368 and a slugging percentage of .620, good for an impressive OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) of .988. Joyce has 23 strikeouts and 12 walks in 100 at-bats.

Among others playing winter ball, shortstop Ramon Santiago is batting .308 for the Cibao Giants. Brent Clevlen is struggling with the Escogido Lions (13 games, .263, 13 strikeouts, no home runs, two doubles), as is Dusty Ryan with the Ponce Lions (15 games, .163, one home run, five RBIs, 20 strikeouts).

Talk of the town

Dombrowski had a tidy account of his Tuesday at baseball's winter meetings.

"A lot of conversations with clubs and with agents," the Tigers president and general manager said as he and Leyland briefed media in the team's suite at the Bellagio Hotel.

As for names, teams, or other clues that might identify who the Tigers were chasing in their bid to boost their bullpen, Dombrowski was equally concise: He wasn't divulging any IDs, at least about pitchers still available.

"We did inquire a bit about Kerry Wood ," Dombrowski said of the former Cubs reliever who was closing in on a deal with the Cleveland Indians.

Wood's apparent signing with Indians, and the revelation that Francisco Rodriguez had agreed to a deal with the New York Mets, pared down the list of closers left for the Tigers to chase: J.J. Putz and Trevor Hoffman as they bid to add a back-end reliever.

The Tigers have not dismissed notions that they have been talking with Seattle about closer J.J. Putz, the Trenton native and former University of Michigan right-hander whom the Mariners are offering -- but at a steep price.

It is believed the Mariners want a dynamite package of Jeff Larish and likely Joyce as part of any price for Putz, 31, who would qualify as the hard-throwing, shutdown closer Dombrowski and Leyland crave.

But because the price is so high, and because Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik is talking seriously with his old Brewers club about mighty left-handed hitter Prince Fielder , it is questionable if the Tigers can realistically bid for Putz.

That would leave the Tigers considering a one-year deal for Hoffman, 41, the all-time saves leader who had 30 saves and a 3.77 ERA for the Padres last year. Hoffman is a free agent, who might hold things together as the Tigers prepare for an influx of young relievers who could be ready by 2010.

Hoffman had 30 saves for the Padres last season. He was 3-6 with a 3.77 ERA. In 48 games and 45 1/3 innings, Hoffman struck out 46 batters, walked nine, and held opponents to a .224 batting average.

Looking ahead

Dombrowski acknowledged that the Tigers are high on their cast for 2010 -- it could feature young pitchers Rick Porcello , Ryan Perry , Casey Fien , Rudy Darrow , Luis Marte , etc., as well as infielder Cale Iorg -- but that 2009 was by no means looking dismal. "Right now, we're trying to win," he said of 2009, adding: "I think we had an outstanding draft last (June)."

"If we can get through this cycle," he said speaking of the 2009 transition that Leyland believes will be a surprise on the plus side. "We're trying to win. When you have our payroll, you're not rebuilding."

"We've got a good team -- trust me," Leyland added. "Better than some people think.

"I know what we have. You've got to remember, there's a fine line anymore in the baseball world. I think we're pretty good."

You can reach Lynn Henning at lynn.henning@detnews.com


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–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers News - FROM THE DETROIT NEWS 2009 Season   Thu Jan 22, 2009 12:40 pm

Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Tigers: Notebook
Dombrowski likes prospects for pitching
Lynn Henning / The Detroit News

GRAND RAPIDS -- He has no anxiety over the Tigers bullpen heading into 2009, Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski says.

"Am I comfortable going in?" he asked, rhetorically, as the Tigers began their winter publicity caravan with stops at Toledo and Grand Rapids.

"Yes.

"Sometimes you go after high-profile guys, and sometimes you try and get not-so-high-profile guys. We've been trying to do both."

The contradiction is that Dombrowski, by his own admission, hopes to add another pitcher or two. Preferably, one will be a certified closer. But he conceded that the hunt is more like a scout-and-hope mission.

"I don't think there's a dominant-type guy out there," Dombrowski said. "No Joe Nathans or K-Rods (Francisco Rodriguez). But I wouldn't be surprised if we added a couple of guys."

The Tigers have been in discussion with the agent for reliever Brandon Lyon, a former closer for the Arizona Diamondbacks. But a combination of fat price tags for available relievers and Lyon's second-half problems at Arizona (8.46 earned-run average after the All-Star break and loss of his closer's role) might make him a fringe contender for a Tigers job.

Dombrowski, in any event, was looking at the cup as half-full Wednesday.

"There just aren't many perfect clubs out there," he said. "Last year, people thought we had that perfect club.

"There is no perfect club. But I think we'll add somebody who'll do a good job."

Detroit's D

Defense is in vogue as the Tigers get ready for spring training, which begins Feb. 14 when pitchers and catchers have their inaugural workout at Lakeland, Fla.

The Tigers have moved Brandon Inge to third base -- for the duration, they say -- and have signed smooth-fielding Adam Everett to play shortstop. A solid catcher, Gerald Laird , takes care of a major issue that followed the Tigers into the past offseason.

Carlos Guillen moving to left field is expected to be another upgrade.

"If you're going to win at the major league level, you've got to pitch and play defense," Dombrowski said, explaining why one of baseball's basic tenets became such an area of focus after 2008. "Last year, some things didn't work out well for us.

"Some guys were set in certain roles and it just never really settled in," he said, a reference to Miguel Cabrera 's arrival as Detroit's new third baseman, his subsequent shift to first base, and Guillen's moves from shortstop, to first, and to third, all before Inge was re-installed as the Tigers' regular third baseman.

The flux in the field has ended. Guillen is now in left field, Cabrera is established at first. With the solid Placido Polanco a fixture at second base, Dombrowski likes how his team shapes up with Curtis Granderson in center field and Magglio Ordonez in right.

"I think our ballclub will score enough runs," Dombrowski said, ticking off the starting nine, including designated hitter Gary Sheffield , whom Dombrowski believes will have a big year.

"I think we need to pitch and play defense."

Welcome, Mr. Everett

Inge raved Wednesday about Everett, his new wingman at short who played last season for the Minnesota Twins and the previous seven seasons for the Houston Astros.

"I'm excited about Adam Everett," Inge said. "I can't wait to shut down that left side of the infield.

"I played against Adam quite a bit in the minors. He'll bring a lot to the clubhouse, and he's a blue-collar guy who'll be a perfect fit for our city.

"He's got a great mind."

Inge said Everett's arrival would be sweet for another big reason.

"I'm tired of seeing him drop down bunts," said Inge, who had seen his share of Everett's artistry when the two met in the minor leagues and in the majors.

Starting stable

Dombrowski said he was stunned to read somewhere -- he didn't cite the source -- that the Tigers had major problems with their starting pitching heading into 2009.

"I think we've got the potential to have a good pitching staff," he said.

Dombrowski's reasoning is that Justin Verlander will have a bounce-back season after a shaky 2008. He believes Jeremy Bonderman will be healthy and on top of his game. As for another restoration project, Nate Robertson , who had an abysmal 2008, Dombrowski said: "You won't recognize Nate Robertson with the shape he's in."

Armando Galarraga and Zach Miner are two more reasons Dombrowski likes his pitching staff. Dontrelle Willis has been making progress, and Edwin Jackson is the big addition to manager Jim Leyland 's rotation after coming to Detroit last month in a trade with Tampa Bay for outfielder Matt Joyce .

"He (Jackson) won 14 games last year and established himself as a big league starter," Dombrowski said of Jackson, a 25-year-old right-hander with a power fastball. "He learned to pitch more last year than just throw."

Dombrowski mentioned one more reason he believes Tigers pitching will turn around in 2009: new pitching coach Rick Knapp , the former minor league pitching instructor for the Minnesota Twins.

"I'm excited by our potential," Dombrowski said. "These guys can win."

Inge's revival

Inge, who believes he will have a year at the plate as good or better than his 2006 peak (27 home runs, 83 RBIs), says the difference in his mechanics and in his hitting approach already are polar opposites from 2008.

"I was fighting against all my mechanics," he said Wednesday at the downtown Marriott Hotel in Grand Rapids, where he was among a host of players inducted into the Michigan Whitecaps Hall of Fame.

"I looked at my swing (on video during the offseason) and saw it was terrible."

Now, Inge says, a new approach and new understanding should pave the way for a comeback season at the plate in 2009. He and hitting coach Lloyd McClendon already have seen the difference during the past week Inge spent working at Comerica Park.

"I've eliminated a lot of bad thought processes," he said. "I'm excited that year (2008) is gone."

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


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PostSubject: Re: Tigers News - FROM THE DETROIT NEWS 2009 Season   Fri Jan 23, 2009 7:10 pm

Friday, January 23, 2009
Tigers: Notebook
Clevlen is down to his final option
Outfielder trying to cut down on strikeouts and get over hitting hump, say challenge exciting.
Lynn Henning and Tom Gage / The Detroit News

Every big league player has his limits, otherwise known as options.

A player gets three years in which a team can call him up from the minor leagues and return him to the bushes.

Outfielder Brent Clevlen, 25, is staring at his fourth option with the Tigers. If he doesn't make the team out of spring training, he must be traded, or be exposed to the waiver wire before the Tigers could return him to their farm system.

In other words, it's make it or break it for Clevlen and the Tigers when spring camp convenes next month at Lakeland, Fla.

"I'm actually excited about it," Clevlen said Thursday as the Tigers' winter publicity caravan made a stop at Miller Auditorium on the Western Michigan University campus. "We'll see what happens."

The Tigers would love to keep Clevlen, their second-round pick in 2002 and his laser-beam throws. But in order for that to happen, Clevlen must hit like a solid outfielder.

Clevlen had a dazzling first four months of the 2008 season at Triple-A Toledo, which earned him a two-week stretch with the Tigers in June.

But he tailed off at season's end, which marred some otherwise strong numbers: .279 average, 22 home runs, 82 RBIs.

Strikeouts, however, which have always been Clevlen's sore spot, were again staggering: 166 in 126 games, despite a shortened swing that was designed to decrease the whiffs.

"I think the last month-and-a-half, I hit one of those walls," Clevlen said. "The season didn't end the way I wanted it to."

Larish's labors

He spent most of the autumn in Arizona's desert lands, shifting to a spot opposite his old home at first base.

Jeff Larish continued his crash course in playing a new position, third base, as he settled in for what became a productive stint in the Arizona Fall League.

He hit .331 with six home runs and was second in the league in RBIs with 29. He also got more comfortable with a position that could be his ticket to regular duty with the Tigers down the road.

"I got a lot of quality work in," said Larish, a left-handed batter who was the Tigers' fifth-round pick out of Arizona State in 2005. "Each game I played over there, I got a better idea of the angles and jumps."

Larish is expected to contend for an off-the-bench spot on manager Jim Leyland 's roster.

"He's one of the candidates that possibly will be fighting for the 25th spot on the team," Leyland said. "That is a fact."

Guillen is outspoken

Carlos Guillen has put his infield days so far behind him that he wants his next team to know he'll only play outfield now.

His next team?

That means the Venezuelan team in this year's World Baseball Classic. Guillen, who'll be the Tigers' left fielder this season after being their shortstop, first baseman and third baseman, made it clear to Venezuelan officials he expects to play only the outfield in the WBC.

"Or I wouldn't have played at all," he said.

Extra bases

Hitting coach Lloyd McClendon was an early casualty of the tour. A pinched nerve had him in a doctor's office instead of at the kickoff luncheon.

... Leyland rejected any thought of turning a starter into a closer because "tinkering burned us last year, and we never recouped."

"We never got out of it. So I'm not going to be tinkering at all," he said.

... According to CBS Sports, the Tigers are close to signing right-hander Scott Williamson to a minor league contract. Williamson, 32, was once one of the mainstays of Cincinnati's bullpen.


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PostSubject: Re: Tigers News - FROM THE DETROIT NEWS 2009 Season   Wed Jan 28, 2009 12:25 am

Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Baseball: Tigers notebook
New Tiger Lyon excels at throwing strikes
Reliever has been compared to ex-closer Jones, says he chose Detroit for chance to win.
Tom Gage / The Detroit News

DETROIT -- It's the most impressive stat about the Tigers' new relief pitcher and probable closer.

In the 51 saves he has in his career, Brandon Lyon has walked only four batters. Four walks in 52 2/3 innings. Four walks in 202 plate appearances.

If that doesn't fit right into the philosophy of pitching coach Rick Knapp, namely that strikes are essential, nothing does.

"Going out there and beating yourself is not the way to go about it," Lyon said Monday during a conference call with reporters. "Make the other team beat you."

By throwing strikes.


Not just about that subject, but on the potential of the Tigers, Lyon said all the right things during the call, things his new bosses and teammates like hearing.

About the Tigers, for instance, the right-hander who signed as a free agent on Saturday said, "I don't see a better team on paper in the major leagues. I want to win. I want to be on a winning team. That was the bottom line about where I was going to go."

Last year with the Diamondbacks, Lyon said that in preparation for a series against the Tigers "we went into the meetings to go over their hitters, and we wondered how they were putting up the runs they were," meaning so few.

Lyon said he chose the Tigers over clubs offering more than a one-year contract because "the situation just suited me better. I heard from other players that it's great to play in Detroit and that weighed in my decision."

Of whether he expects to be the Tigers' closer, Lyon said: "If I stay healthy, everything will play out well for me and for the team. If, by chance, I'm not the closer, I'm a team player and I'll be excited to help the team in any way I can."

Despite struggling in the second half last year, Lyon had 26 saves for Arizona. But he said of the second half, in which he had an 8.46 ERA in 23 appearances, "I just felt I didn't get enough work and I didn't know how to prepare myself when I wasn't pitching.

"I don't think I was mixing all my pitches. That was a big part of me struggling. I stuck to being a conventional two-pitch pitcher."

Lyon has been compared to former Tigers closer Todd Jones, from what he throws right down to his career 3.79 ERA in save situations. Jones' career ERA in save situations was 3.78.

"There are definite similarities," said Lyon, "from our aggressiveness to our style of pitching. He's a great person to be compared with. He had a great career."

Perez returns

For the third consecutive season, the Tigers have signed outfielder Timo Perez to a minor league contract.

A year ago, Perez was coming off an impressive stretch with Detroit in which he hit .389 in 90 at-bats in 2007. He spent last year at Toledo, hitting .302.

The team also announced the signings of seven players on their 40-man roster to one-year contracts, including catcher Dusty Ryan , pitcher Chris Lambert and infielder Michael Hollimon , all of whom saw action at the major league level last year.

You can reach Tom Gage at tom.gage@detnews.com


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PostSubject: Re: Tigers News - FROM THE DETROIT NEWS 2009 Season   Sat Feb 14, 2009 11:19 am

Saturday, February 14, 2009
Tigers: Notebook
New Tiger Lyon eager to get started
Reliever excited just to throw baseball again, compete for closer's job with competitive Tigers.
Lynn Henning / The Detroit News

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Brandon Lyon looked like the kid who just arrived at a new school.

He knew none of his teammates. He knew neither his manager, Jim Leyland, nor his new coaches.

A right-handed reliever who could become the Tigers' closer in 2009 spent Friday morning getting acquainted with his locker in the clubhouse at Marchant Stadium and saying hello to a new team.

"Excited to get here," Lyon said. "Just meeting the guys, for now, kind of getting a feel for everybody."

The group included Leyland. The two shook hands and traded greetings in the manager's office a day before pitchers and catchers open formal spring-training drills as the Tigers prepare for their 2009 season.

"Didn't get much into detail," Lyon said of his brief chat with Leyland. "I've watched him over the years. I'm excited to play for him. He's one of the best managers in baseball."

Lyon acknowledged he was more excited to begin throwing. He signed a one-year deal with the Tigers last month with the intent to win Detroit's vacant closer's spot.

In the process, he turned down a multiyear offer from the Minnesota Twins to be the setup man to closer Joe Nathan.

It's a calculated gamble on Lyon's part, but probably a shrewd one. He is likely to be, at the very least, a part-time closer for the Tigers. A sturdier estimate is he will emerge as the Opening Day closer with prospects for holding the job indefinitely.

It is an issue that depends heavily on how quickly and reliably Joel Zumaya makes it back from last year's shoulder miseries. It also presumes Fernando Rodney will return to his old role as the Tigers setup man.

Lyon understands a bullpen closer with solid numbers could hit the jackpot as a free agent next autumn. In the meantime, he has a chance to play for a club that, if healthy, could contend for a playoff spot.

"This is a dangerous lineup, top to bottom," Lyon said. "Playing interleague games against them last year I was amazed at how well they pitched and hit."

Lyon turns 30 in August. He played the past three seasons for the Arizona Diamondbacks and had 26 saves in 2008.

Verlander's discovery

Justin Verlander had the market cornered Friday on "upbeat."

The Tigers right-hander was happily discussing his golf game of late, which has been on fire. He was more excited about the pitcher he believes he can become in 2009.

Verlander has had some revealing early meetings with new pitching coach Rick Knapp , who helped him with balance issues.

"He's gotten me back to my roots," said Verlander, whose first two seasons were so stirring (35 victories) he was projected to be a Cy Young Award candidate in 2008. He instead finished 11-17 with a 4.84 ERA.

"I'm one of those guys who can handle a lot of information, soak it up, and use what I want," he said, explaining that Knapp helped him stabilize his front (left) foot, which might have been a factor in last season's problems with pitch location.

"I'm getting back to landing on a flat foot. I don't know why it happened, but last season I began landing on the side of my foot, with my foot slightly open."

Knapp also was interested in re-setting Verlander's hands at the top of his delivery. One of the exercises involved was an old trick used by pitching coaches galore, including former Tigers pitching coach Chuck Hernandez .

The towel drill, as it is known, consists of a pitcher substituting a towel for a baseball as he goes through a standard pitching delivery.

"It isn't anything new," Verlander said. "We used it with Chuck, too. But after that one drill, instead of knocking off, I stayed and used a ball and threw 10 more pitches the way I had thrown with the towel.

"The next bullpen session, I noticed a dramatic difference."

Another advantage, Verlander believes, will be his pitching regimen in 2009. A year ago, he reasoned it would be better to go slowly during camp in a bid to fight fatigue later in the season. He anticipated he could "dial it up" in his latter starts in Florida and be ready for Opening Day.

It didn't work.

"I think I created some bad habits," Verlander said. "There was a consistent battle last season to get it (velocity and strength) back. It was an uphill battle to re-create my mechanics.

"Trying to change your arm angle at midseason is tough to do. Basically, what I got away from prevented me from being me."

He and Javair Gillett , the Tigers strength and conditioning coach, fine-tuned Verlander's offseason routine. There was less focus on the upper body and more on an overall regimen.

"I'm extremely excited," Verlander said.



Center-field sub

Leyland confirmed that he wants to add a legitimate backup center fielder to his roster. His motivation has nothing to do with any shortcomings on the part of a lineup fixture, Curtis Granderson , the team's regular center fielder.

"I want to keep Brandon Inge at third base," Leyland said.

Leyland's plan is to stick with regular positions in the field and in the batting order.

There are few pure center-field candidates in camp. Clete Thomas , who made the Opening Day roster in 2008, can play center. But he is coming off Tommy John surgery. Another candidate is Casper Wells , who had a big second half in 2008 at Double-A Erie.

Granderson's thievery

Granderson stole only 12 bases in 2008 and was caught four times. He stole 26 in 2007 and was nailed but once.

"I'm gonna talk with him this spring," Leyland said, acknowledging that Granderson should be more of a base thief.

"Some of that's my fault (not ordering the steal). But I think he's probably a little too tense. He needs to be a bit more relaxed over there."

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


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PostSubject: Re: Tigers News - FROM THE DETROIT NEWS 2009 Season   Sun Feb 15, 2009 12:02 am

Saturday, February 14, 2009
Tigers: Notebook
Tiger's tale: It's a gator's tooth
Rodney says unusual neckwear came from 'an alligator in the river'
Tom Gage / The Detroit News

LAKELAND, Fla. -- What's he up to now?

Fernando Rodney, the singing Tiger who lost a couple of pounds when he shaved his head last year, has found a way to attract attention again this spring.

With what he wore around his neck in the first workout.




It's a tooth.

Not one of his own. Not a shark's tooth, either. It's a lethal-looking alligator's tooth. And, frankly, if we didn't know the saber-toothed tiger was extinct, we'd think this Tiger was wearing one of that tiger's teeth.

It's that long.

Where'd you get it, Fernando?

"An alligator in the river," he said.

An alligator in the river -- that sure leaves a lot to the imagination. Wrestling alligators in the off-season is probably prohibited by the Tigers -- or would be if they thought it had to be.

Then again, there's no indication Rodney is the one who's responsible for an alligator somewhere having one less tooth than it once did. But there it was, swinging around his neck during the first spring session of drills -- looking like it could do some real damage if not handled with care.

No matter what, though, the tooth adds to what makes Rodney one of the true characters on the Tigers. He's the relief pitcher, as you'll recall, who sings in the bullpen during a game.

There's even a bit on YouTube of Rodney and fellow reliever Bobby Seay singing "Gasolina" at Miller Auditorium in Kalamazoo during the Tigers' caravan last month.

And don't forget his hair. When asked what he was going to do with the three plastic bags in his locker containing his shorn hair last summer, Rodney said, "Send it home as proof."

Apparently as proof that he had, indeed, gotten it trimmed.

This appears to be the Year of the Tooth, though -- unless Rodney's told it's just too dangerous looking to wear during workouts.

Is it dangerous looking? Well, let's just say it's not your standard molar.

Been a while

Notice how long it's been since anyone has worn No. 4 on the Tigers -- and we don't mean the month that Cameron Maybin wore it while he was up in 2007?

Not since Bobby Higginson hung it up in 2005, the number's not been worn by a Tiger. But shortstop Adam Everett will wear it this year.

It didn't that long to pass out Edgar Renteria's No. 8, however. In fact, it took no time at all. Catcher Gerald Laird will wear No. 8

Robertson's long winter

The only Tiger to winter in the Detroit area, Nate Robertson, finally might have met his match.

"This winter really got to me," Roberton said. "Michigan winters haven't bothered me before. But this one did."

What does that tell you? If nothing else, it should tell you that Robertson didn't arrive in Florida until afterthe weekend that topped out at 5 below -- or whatever the tropical high was in Detroit that January day or two.


Busting his chops

New pitching coach Rick Knapp is a worker. In fact, he works so intently that sometimes he loses track of the clock.

"Once he gets working, he forgets about time," said manager Jim Leyland, who told this story about Knapp:

Leyland on Friday told Knapp he wanted to meet with him at 11 a.m. Knapp said he was on his way out at the time to work with a pitcher, so Knapp suggested 11:15.

"Fine," said Leyland.

The appointed time came and went. So did 11:30.

"About 11:35," said Leyland, "I was sitting here talking to another coach, so I shut my doors and locked them. A little later, I heard a tap, so I said, 'Who is it?'"

"Knapper," was the reply.

"Who?" said Leyland.


"Rick Knapp," said Knapp.


"I'm meeting with my current coaches, not my former coaches," answered Leyland -- who, by the way, couldn't be happier so far with how Knapp is going about his business, and how he's fitting in.

"We had fun with it -- and Rick laughed," said Leyland. "We had a good pitching coach the last three years (Chuck Hernandez) and I think we have another good one now."


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers News - FROM THE DETROIT NEWS 2009 Season   Sun Feb 15, 2009 12:03 am

At the Tigers Caravan stop in Kalamazoo, Mich. at Miller Auditorium, relievers Fernando Rodney and Bobby Seay entertained the crowd with their version of Gasolina.



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PostSubject: Re: Tigers News - FROM THE DETROIT NEWS 2009 Season   Mon Feb 16, 2009 10:27 am


Shortstop Adam Everett, left, greets Tigers president Dave Dombrowski
upon his arrival at spring training Sunday. (John T. Greilick/The
Detroit News)

Monday, February 16, 2009
Tigers: Notebook
Everett eager to get started
New shortstop arrives two days early, says he is looking forward to working alongside Inge.
Lynn Henning / The Detroit News

LAKELAND, Fla. -- A man who might be the most important position player on the Tigers roster arrived Sunday at Marchant Stadium.

Two days early, at that.

Adam Everett, the new shortstop, slipped into a Tigers uniform for the first time, even though position players aren't required to be on hand until Tuesday.


Everett was smiling for a couple of reasons: His right shoulder is free of the tendinitis that last season held him to 48 games with the Minnesota Twins. He also likes his new club's roster.

"This is a very, very talented team," said Everett, who'll join third baseman Brandon Inge in a bid to tighten the left side of the infield.

Everett, 32, signed a one-year contract in December. A man considered one of the best defensive players in baseball during seven seasons with the Houston Astros was recruited by a Tigers team making sturdier defense a mandate.

"That was one of the things they (the Tigers front office) told me," Everett said. "They wanted to get back to basics. There was a need to throw the ball and catch the ball. They've already got the boppers (big hitters) in the lineup."

Everett will be aligned alongside Inge, whom he has known since they played against each other in the minor leagues. Two old rivals have since spoken on the phone. Their admiration is mutual.

"I don't think there's a (third baseman) in the league better than Inge, defensively," said Everett, who's been party to Inge's rave reviews about Everett's skills.

Young and restless

In his first year as Tigers manager in 2006, Leyland decided during spring camp to add two young power-pitchers to his roster. Joel Zumaya and Justin Verlander became central to that season's World Series trip.

Three years later, Leyland has another wave of young pitchers in camp. The likelihood that they're too young to crack the roster hasn't eliminated anyone from at least getting a look.

The group includes right-handed reliever Ryan Perry , the former University of Arizona closer whose 100-mph fastball made him the Tigers' first-round draft pick in 2008.

Perry was considered by some scouts to be on the cusp of moving to the majors when he was drafted last June.

"As we always say, you go with the best 12 guys who give you a chance to win," Leyland said. "Do I think it's a long shot (that Perry or someone as inexperienced)? Sure, I do.

"Is it possible? Absolutely."

Included in the "long shot" category would be 20-year-old right-hander Rick Porcello , who is probably headed for Double-A Erie as the Tigers attempt to build his strength and stamina. Porcello is expected to be a candidate for a starting job in 2010.

All the way back

Macay McBride is impressing Leyland 10 months after he underwent Tommy John surgery on his left (throwing) elbow. McBride came to the Tigers in a 2007 trade with the Atlanta Braves involving left-hander Wilfredo Ledezma .

"I will guess he's feeling really healthy," Leyland said, "and I don't think he was before (surgery)."

Leyland liked what he saw of McBride's bullpen session Sunday.

"He threw very well," Leyland said

You can reach Lynn Henning at lynn.henning@detnews.com


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–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers News - FROM THE DETROIT NEWS 2009 Season   Thu Feb 19, 2009 11:27 am

Thursday, February 19, 2009
Tigers: Notebook
Hitters, meet hurlers
Leyland says batters should take aggressive approach when stepping in to face Tigers pitchers.
Tom Gage / The Detroit News

LAKELAND, Fla. -- It's not what it once was.

Hitters don't tip-toe into the cage against live pitching for the first time as if they're walking on egg shells. Pitchers aren't THAT wild anymore in the first such session.

But there is an odd, tough-to-get-used-to feeling about it.

"It could be the combination of the cage and live pitching," said Matt Treanor, one of the Tigers' catchers.

In any case, batting practice against live pitching begins today for the Tigers. Some pitchers will throw strikes, some won't. Some hitters will take good swings, some won't.

Some hitters will be comfortable -- and some definitely won't.

"It's just a matter of hitters taking the right approach," said manager Jim Leyland. "I understand they don't want to get all banged up this early. But most of the time, if you take an aggressive approach to it, you have less chance at something going wrong.

"If you're defensive about it, there's a better chance of something happening."

Placido Polanco won't be defensive, but he plans to be careful.

"It's more for the eyes than the swing," said Polanco. "I just work on timing."

Perry impresses

Gerald Laird caught Ryan Perry 's bullpen session on Wednesday. His opinion? "Easy cheese," said Laird. "He's very impressive. Electric fastball, as everyone knows, but he has a really good slider and change-up, too.

"Stuff-wise, it's all good. The ball just jumps out of his hand."

... Lou Whitaker , helping out as an instructor, has lost weight, 20 pounds in the last two years.

"Almost down to your playing weight," he was told.

"But not down to my playing age," Whitaker, now 51, replied.

... Pitching coach Rick Knapp used a term Leyland's not heard before. "He said Fernando Rodney has a fast hand," said Leyland. "I've heard of quick arm, but not a fast hand. They're probably the same thing."

They aren't, though.

"A fast hand is exactly that," said Knapp. "When Rodney throws his change-up, his hand snaps so quickly, it's a blur. That's a fast hand."

... By the way, the special mirror Knapp has ordered as a pitching tool is expected in soon. Leyland said he's never been a "gimmick guy," but with the way Knapp has described how he'll use the mirror -- for pitchers to view technique faster than on video -- he's not labeling this a gimmick.

"When you hear Rick's explanation for its purpose, it makes a lot of sense," Leyland said.

... Pitchers went through a "knee to knee" drill -- catchers shortening the distance between them and the mound, then positioning the glove on one knee for several pitches, then the other.

"It's a concentration tool at getting the ball down," said Leyland.

One of the best at throwing knee-to-knee on Wednesday was Ni (pronunciation: Knee). No joke, Fu-Te Ni , the Taiwanese lefty with Technicolor gloves, consistently hit the glove during the drill.

"I just told him to throw to his name," said Leyland.

Treanor better in clutch

Treanor stat, for what it's worth: Career batting average .237. But a career average with runners in scoring position of .284.

... Today's "Where is He Now?" Mike Maroth is in camp as an invitee with Toronto after surgery to repair a frayed area in his left shoulder last May.

On his Web site, he's quoted as saying, "My range of motion was pretty limited. It was causing some irritation in my shoulder. Last year, the arm just couldn't take it."

... Zach Simons is a right-hander in camp who was acquired from Colorado last year for Jason Grilli . A couple of things about him: He went 5-2 with two saves and a 2.36 ERA in 39 games for Lakeland last year, holding opponents to a .166 batting average. So he already has some minor league stats on his side.

But he must be good, because it's not easy to get noticed as a high-schooler in Idaho, which is where Simons is from.

"When I realized senior year that a scout was in the crowd looking at me," said Simons, "it kind of overwhelmed me. Usually there are 15-20 people at the game, and suddenly some scouts start showing up for the first time. That was pretty cool."

Polanco shortens stride

Polanco has a new, more compact way of running to first. "I worked on it this winter." Looks like Pudge Rodriguez down the line now.

"Funny you should say that," said Polanco. "Pudge has worked with the same people I worked with."

... By the way, Polanco won't play for the Dominican Republic in the upcoming World Baseball Classic because A) "I'm a middle infielder. That roster is packed with middle infielders." and B) "This is the last year of my contract and anything could happen (in the WBC)."

... One more thing about Polanco, as soon as he mentioned the last year of his contract, he quickly added, "But I hope not my last year here."

... Breezy day here on Wednesday, and the outfield instructors loved it. "Good day to teach them that if they can catch the ball here, they can catch it anywhere," said Al Kaline .

... Don't be surprised when Joel Zumaya gets multiple innings in some of his spring appearances. No, he's not being groomed as a starter. It'll be a sign that "at some point, we have to stretch him out," said Leyland.

You can reach Tom Gage at tom.gage@detnews.com


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–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers News - FROM THE DETROIT NEWS 2009 Season   Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:38 am

Thursday, February 19, 2009
Guillen on WBC: Left field or leaving
Tom Gage / The Detroit News

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Carlos Guillen isn't saying he won't play for Venezuela in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. But he expects to play left field -- and expects to start in left.

"If I'm not playing left field," he said on Thursday, "I'm coming back here."

... One thing manager Jim Leyland isn't doing and doesn't have to do this spring is tinker with his batting order. It's not going to change from Curtis Granderson, Placido Polanco, Magglio Ordonez, Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Guillen, Gary Sheffield, Gerald Laird, Brandon Inge and Adam Everett -- in that order.

... Zach Miner missed only one day with a stomach ailment.

... Here's a name from the past: Casper Wells is a rookie outfielder with the Tigers. He's from Schenectady, N.Y., and his father is good friends with Roger Weaver, who briefly pitched with the Tigers in 1980. Remember him?

Weaver's had a career in insurance in Johnstown, N.Y. He was a Tiger long enough to give up a home run in New York to Reggie Jackson. For that matter, he was around long enough that in three-plus months as a Tiger, he allowed two grand slams, a three-run shot and two two-run home runs.

It's a tough debut for any pitcher when the first two home runs you allow in your career are grand slams.


... Hard-working John Keating of FSN went back to the cold -- and to the Red Wings' beat -- on Thursday after cramming in 24 interviews in four days.

... Just remember that if new shortstop Adam Everett ends up hitting for Detriot this year instead of Detroit, there's precedent for it. It was Everett, after all, who briefly wore a Minnesota Twins uniform in a game last August at Anaheim that mistakenly said "Minnestoa."

He didn't notice the misspelling and neither did any of his teammates. It took former Twin Denny Hocking, watching the game on television, to text the mistake to a clubhouse attendant.

There's never been anything momentarily embarrassing about Everett's defense, however. Morgan Ensberg, who played next to Everett at third base for Houston, has said this in the past about his former teammate: "I can say in my heart of hearts that he's the best defensive shortstop on the planet. From what I've seen, there's no way he can't be."

... Gerald Laird's hitting stats continue to be fascinating. He's a career .337 hitter with less than two strikes on him, but only .175 in any count that includes two strikes.

Perhaps some advice from Placido Polanco, the best hitter on the Tigers in two-strike counts (.258), would help.

The biggest difference on the Tigers, though, between his average with less than two strikes compared to his average in any two-strike count, belongs to Curtis Granderson (.380-.201).

... Trivia: There's not much Gary Sheffield hasn't done as a hitter in his career. But in 10,635 plate appearances, he's never had an eighth-inning triple. Forty-nine doubles and 47 home runs in the eighth, but never a triple. The void neither bothers him nor, let's face it, should.


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PostSubject: Re: Tigers News - FROM THE DETROIT NEWS 2009 Season   Sat Feb 21, 2009 7:02 pm

Saturday, February 21, 2009
Tigers: Notebook
Laird will make a run at 10-12 steals
Tom Gage / The Detroit News

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Tigers catcher Gerald Laird stole 42 bases his senior year in high school at La Quinta High in Westminster, Calif.

Where has that speed gone?

"I can still run OK," said Laird, 29. "Nothing like that, but I'd like to get 10-12 this year."

A catcher with double-digit steals? Nothing wrong with that.

Laird stole a career-high six bases for the Rangers in 120 games in 2007.

By the way, Laird's 21-year-old brother, Brandon, is a first baseman in the Yankees' system. He hit .273 with 23 home runs and 86 RBI last year for the Charleston Riverdogs of the South Atlantic League.

Heating up

Fernando Rodney was so strong during batting practice Saturday he broke a couple of bats -- including Ryan Raburn's.

"Mine was the one that nearly landed in left field," Raburn said. "Guys aren't throwing their hardest yet, but when Rodney's not throwing hard, he's still throwing hard."

Clete's countdown

Outfielder Clete Thomas is marking off the days, but has a lot more days to mark off. Recovering from elbow surgery, he can't begin a throwing program until March 23.

"I can swing a bat, but not throw," he said. "It's driving me crazy, but as much as I'd like to, I can't cheat and sneak one in."

Thomas said he realized he had a problem when he made an outfield throw during a game last year for Toledo and "my hand went numb." He played two months, hoping the feeling something was wrong would go away, but it never did. He had his surgery Sept. 11.

Right down the middle

Rick Porcello is over the "shell shock of all the names" in this, his second spring training with the Tigers. Porcello got rave reviews Friday for throwing his first session of batting practice, but is a well-grounded kid who doesn't let anything go to his head.

"There's still a lot to learn," he said.

When it was said Saturday to manager Jim Leyland that there's no swagger to Porcello, the manager disagreed: "I think he does have it. He's just a little quieter."

Just so you know, if Porcello becomes a phenom this spring, Leyland is the one person who can't get caught up in it, as least in public. He's not the giddy type, and wouldn't be in this case, either. But talk about a rock and a hard place.

"You don't want to act like you're not recognizing how talented a guy is," Leyland said, "but you also don't want to send a message to everyone else that you're talking about only one person. That puts you in a spot.

"I hope you guys write great things about him, though. He's more talented than most. Don't think I don't think about that."

Up and down

When Leyland praises a pitcher for throwing "downhill," what does that mean?

"Getting your arm through the ball on a downward plane instead of dragging your arm and leaving the ball up," he replied. "Driving the ball down in the zone.

"There are some guys who are high fastball pitchers. Jim Palmer was one. You're not trying to make everyone a sinkerballer, because the game's a little bit different now.

"Years ago, you could live in the air a little bit, but you can't do that much anymore. Guys are too strong now."

No special favors

Catcher Alex Avila, son of Tigers assistant general manager Al Avila, has made a good impression so far. "He's a definite big-league prospect, without question," said Leyland.

Hitting left-handed certainly doesn't hurt.

Hitting left-handed, with a .305 average for West Michigan in your first season, also doesn't hurt.


There's no preferential treatment in play here, though. You never see the two Avilas together during workouts. Strictly business. Alex will make it or not on his own -- and so far, everything's positive.

International incident

When he saw that the Tigers were opening in Toronto this season, Leyland's first thought wasn't about the benefit of kicking off the season indoors. He thought, "Good, we get the passport city out of the way fast. I love Toronto, but going there is always a little different when you travel as a group."

Monroe with Pirates

Where are they now? Craig Monroe is in camp as a non-roster invitee with the Pittsburgh Pirates -- and might have a decent chance of making the team if he shows anything this spring.

Since the Tigers traded him in 2007, however, Monroe has hit just .203 in 212 at-bats for the Chicago Cubs and Minnesota Twins combined.


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PostSubject: Re: Tigers News - FROM THE DETROIT NEWS 2009 Season   Sat Feb 28, 2009 10:33 am

Saturday, February 28, 2009
Tigers: Notebook
Movement is the message to Tigers' Galarraga
Galarraga has good life on pitches, not so good an outing before leaving camp to train for WBC.
Tom Gage / The Detroit News

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Say goodbye to Armando Galarraga.

For a few weeks, that is.


Friday's start was his first this spring, but his last for a while because of the World Baseball Classic. Galarraga will pitch for Venezuela, which will train in Lakeland.

Galarraga allowed a run in two innings in Friday's 6-4 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. It wasn't his best outing, but it could be that spring training simply doesn't bring out the best in him.

After all, he was among the first cuts last spring before returning to win 13 games for the Tigers.

Pitching coach Rick Knapp could see in the bullpen while Galarraga was warming up that his pitches were "moving all over."

"I told him to throw the ball down the middle because it wasn't going to end up there," Knapp said.


Said Jim Leyland: "Good movement, probably moving out of the strike zone, but good life."

Galarraga allowed two walks and hit a batter in the first inning, but allowed only one run, thanks to good defensive plays by shortstop Cale Iorg and center fielder Curtis Granderson.

You again

Don Kelly , a Tigers prospect until signing with his hometown Pittsburgh Pirates and making it to the majors with them for 25 games in 2007, provided a reminder in Friday's game he can hit.

Kelly went 2-for-2 with a home run and a single.

"He's an interesting guy, someone who's always been able to swing the bat," Leyland said.

Said Kelly about his two years away from the Tigers: "I worked on my defense a lot. I got accustomed to playing a lot of positions. I'm a more versatile player than I was".

Around the horn

Jeff Larish (stiff neck) was a late scratch. He was replaced at first base by Mike Hessman .

... Attempts to speak with Jeremy Bonderman about pitching a simulated game instead of starting against the Mets today were not successful. Bonderman will throw 30 pitches in the simulated game.

... Leyland, on reliever Fernando Rodney : "His change-up is a devastating pitch when he commands his fastball. If he can start a hitter once in a while with a 96-mile-an-hour fastball on the outside corner, then you've got something going. Even though he has one of the best change-ups I've ever seen, it's like (Gerald ) Laird said, 'I sat on it every pitch. I couldn't hit it, but I sat on it.' Eventually that catches up to a pitcher."

Rodney allowed a home run and two walks in Friday's loss.

... Leyland has a different opinion from most about the value of pitcher-to-pitcher conversations.

"I don't believe pitchers should necessarily talk to each other about what they're doing with hitters," he said. "If I throw 87-88 miles an hour and somebody else throws 95-96, to me that's a big difference.

"I may be wrong, and I'm not talking about conversations like, 'Hey, this guy is a good low-ball hitter,' but I believe a pitcher should concentrate on the hitters during the game and say to himself, 'With my stuff, what gives me my best chance to get him out?' "

In other words, don't try to get a hitter out with someone else's stuff.

... Scott Williamson tossed an inning of scoreless relief, and when asked if there could be a spot in the bullpen for him, Leyland said, "There's a spot for any good pitcher who throws strikes, commands the strike zone, makes pitches and gets hitters out. There are 12 spots for those guys."

... Good play by Iorg in the first, but he had three errors later, including two on one play. He has a bright future, though.

"He'll play in the majors for a long time," Leyland said.


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PostSubject: Re: Tigers News - FROM THE DETROIT NEWS 2009 Season   Thu Mar 05, 2009 12:07 pm

Thursday, March 5, 2009
Tigers: Notebook
Tigers' Leyland impressed with scrappy Rhymes
Prospect is do-it-all player Tigers manager seeks, very well could be the next Clete Thomas.
Lynn Henning / The Detroit News

LAKELAND, Fla. -- A year ago, Jim Leyland talked about a "baseball player" who caught his eye. Clete Thomas could get a hit, beat out an infield roller, make a throw, steal a base and hustle down a fly ball in the outfield.

In Leyland's parlance, a "baseball player" was a person who did unspectacular things but made contributions in small ways to win a ballgame. Thomas came out of nowhere to land a spot on the Tigers' 25-man Opening Day roster.

The Tigers manager has spotted another scrap-iron collector a month into the Tigers' 2009 spring camp.

Will Rhymes is a "dirtballer," Leyland said Wednesday.

Rhymes is a 25-year-old second baseman who made a significant jump in the Tigers' prospects chain when he put together a big year at Double-A Erie in 2008, batting .306.

"I think Rhymes will play in the big leagues," Leyland said. "He's got a short, quick (batting) stroke."

Rhymes is listed -- generously -- at 5-foot-9, 155 pounds. But he cracked a long home run over the fence in right-center field in Tuesday's game against Venezuela and added a single in Wednesday's game at Marchant Stadium, which saw Panama beat the Tigers, 9-3.

Rhymes was a 27th-round draft pick from William & Mary in 2005. Last season, he also played six games for Triple-A Toledo, where he batted .320.

Incomplete Clete

Thomas can run. He can bat. He simply can't throw 100 percent following last September's Tommy John surgery on his right (throwing) elbow.

The prognosis is good: Thomas should be ready for regular outfield duty sometime this spring. And when that happens, he figures to be a quick call-up to Detroit, where his left-handed bat and increasing power have combined with other manager-pleasing skills to make him a Leyland favorite.

"He's got more bat speed," Leyland said, gesturing at how a sturdier Thomas has quickened his swing considerably. "He's so much stronger."

Thomas had a single in five at-bats Wednesday.

That hurt

Wilkin Ramirez , a prized Tigers outfield prospect, showed his speed when he turned what appeared to be a double down the left-field line into a triple. He also singled.

Not bad for a player who looked as if he might be leaving the game -- or worse -- after he collided with Panama's first baseman following a bad throw from third base. Ramirez was hit in the lower abdomen and lay motionless on the first-base line for a couple of painful minutes before returning to the game.

Ramirez also struck out twice, which suggests his biggest challenge in climbing the Tigers' minor league ladder remains on the to-do list for 2009.

Bloom's spring

Kyle Bloom remains very much alive in his quest to make the Tigers as a Rule 5 prospect. Bloom, a 26-year-old left-hander who was plucked from the Pittsburgh Pirates organization in December, allowed only one hit and a walk in two innings.

Bloom is known for his curveball, something the Tigers hoped he would display with regularity.

"I need to use it more," Bloom said after Wednesday's stint. "I've got confidence I can get anyone out if I throw it for a strike."

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


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–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers News - FROM THE DETROIT NEWS 2009 Season   Thu Mar 05, 2009 12:37 pm

Heart Clete!
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers News - FROM THE DETROIT NEWS 2009 Season   Sat Mar 07, 2009 9:31 pm

Saturday, March 7, 2009
Tigers: Notebook
Tigers' Bonderman reports 'no pain'
Right-hander says everything 'went well' in second go-round of catch since shoulder check.
Lynn Henning and Tom Gage / The Detroit News

LAKELAND, Fla. -- If the Tigers were heartened by Friday's report from Jeremy Bonderman, the 26-year-old right-hander was even more relieved.

As the team bus left for the Tigers' night game in Tampa against the Yankees, Bonderman sat at his locker with an ice pack on his shoulder.

It could have been a good, or bad, sign for Bonderman and the Tigers.

Bonderman voted "good."

"Everything went well," he said about his second session of playing catch since his shoulder was examined in Detroit to make sure the soreness he felt wasn't a major issue.

"I threw at 60 feet last time, at 90 feet this time," he said. "No pain at all."

The next step for Bonderman, he said, is to throw in the bullpen "either Sunday or Monday." It's likely he would have a second bullpen session after that -- but if all still is going well, and feeling good, he could be penciled in for his first start of the spring after that.

Maybe even late next week. Asked if he was excited at his progress, Bonderman said, "I won't be excited until I'm pitching in a game."

More medicals

Left-handed pitcher Macay McBride has been recovering from Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow since last April.

Another player making it back from ligament replacement surgery is an outfielder -- Clete Thomas -- who had his right throwing elbow repaired last September.

Each player is getting close to being game-ready. McBride is following the normal pitcher's recovery period of at least a full year. He could be ready to throw in a game at some point this spring.

Thomas has been batting and running but is not quite ready to resume full throws in the outfield.

"He's progressed very well," trainer Kevin Rand said. "He's been throwing from 150 feet and the next step is 180. He's doing very, very well."

The fine line

Manager Jim Leyland likes the approach taken by a young left-handed hitting prospect with Jeff Larish 's power and promise.

Most of the time, anyway.

Larish is known not only for his power but for being picky at the plate. It can be a good thing. And it can be a not-so-good thing.

"He's almost a scientific hitter to a fault," Leyland said of Larish, who hit a homer to left field and another over the right-field fence during Thursday's game against Washington.

"Sometimes he takes too many pitches. You don't always have to wait for something perfect.

"To me, a good pitch to hit is a pitch you can put a good swing on. And that's not always a pitch down the middle.

"Yesterday, he was aggressive. There's a fine line there. You've still got to stay aggressive through the strike zone.

"If you can put a good swing on a pitch, take a whack at it."

Making strides

Juan Rincon , the right-hander signed by the Tigers as a minor league free agent, is doing nothing to disappoint Leyland as a 30-year-old reliever with a handsome track record continues to make the most of his spring camp.

"I thought he threw the ball extremely well (Thursday) with late movement," Leyland said.

"He's a guy who probably needs to change the plane of hitters' eyes, but I thought he looked very good yesterday."

Rincon pitched eight seasons for the Minnesota Twins from 2001-07 before joining the Cleveland Indians last season, when he pitched in 23 games.

The Tigers signed him to a minor league contract in January of this year.

You can reach Lynn Henning at lynn.henning@detnews.com


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–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers News - FROM THE DETROIT NEWS 2009 Season   Tue Mar 10, 2009 2:37 am

Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Tigers: Notebook
Pitchers fare well in defeat
Seay, Dolsi and Rapada all throw scoreless innings after Porcello stars as starter.
Lynn Henning / The Detroit News

JUPITER, Fla. -- It looked Monday night as if Tigers pitchers were out to make amends for Sunday's debacle.

If so, they succeeded.


Rick Porcello had an excellent three-inning start, and three of the four pitchers who followed him also pitched shutout baseball as the Tigers lost to the Florida Marlins, 1-0, at Roger Dean Stadium.

Bobby Seay pitched two innings, allowed one hit, and struck out two. Freddy Dolsi had two strikeouts in a spotless inning. Clay Rapada allowed a hit and struck out a batter in his lone inning.

The only run of the game came against right-hander Brandon Lyon, who allowed a couple of hits, but also struck out a pair of batters in the sixth.

"We pitched pretty well, very well," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "I thought all our guys handled themselves very well."

Thumbs up

Those reassurances handed Jeremy Bonderman and Joel Zumaya by their respective doctors last week looked even firmer Monday when Leyland said each pitcher would throw in an intra-squad game Saturday.

Bonderman, who because of thoracic surgery has not pitched in a game since last May, will start in a game at the team's Tigertown complex in Lakeland.

Zumaya is scheduled to pitch one inning. He has not pitched since early last week, before shoulder pain spurred him to seek a quick follow-up examination by Dr. James Andrews , the well-known orthopedic surgeon who has been advising Bonderman.

"So far, so good," Leyland said. "We'll play it by ear."

Bonderman threw during a bullpen session Sunday.

"He felt great," Leyland said. "We're excited about that."

A manager's challenge

Leyland was asked after Monday night's game how he would deal with a pitcher as young as the 20-year-old Porcello.

"I think you watch all your players," Leyland said, "particularly the young ones. You don't throw him to the wolves, but you can't baby and protect him to the point you don't let 'em figure out something."

New dad

Marcus Thames ' wife, Danna , gave birth Sunday to a baby boy: Marcus Jr .

You can reach Lynn Henning at lynn.henning@detnews.com


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–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers News - FROM THE DETROIT NEWS 2009 Season   Sat Mar 14, 2009 6:42 pm

Saturday, March 14, 2009
Tigers: Notebook
Wraps come off Tigers' Bonderman
Tigers starter will pitch in intrasquad game today, first time he's faced batters since May.
Lynn Henning / The Detroit News

LAKELAND, Fla. -- At a quiet intrasquad game this morning at Tigertown, the Tigers will get a bit closer to knowing whether Jeremy Bonderman can join their rotation in time for the season-opening series at Toronto.

It could be the most significant event of the weekend for Leyland's team, which Friday saw Edwin Jackson break the three-inning barrier for Tigers starters in a game they lost to the New York Mets, 9-3, at Marchant Stadium.

Bonderman has not pitched in a game of any kind since last May, before he was lost for the season to thoracic surgery. He was throwing soundly during bullpen sessions in the early days of spring camp, but then ran into discomfort that doctors said was caused by a nerve still healing from last year's surgery.

Thus, the focus on today's outing, which could mean everything to settling down Leyland's rotation as it deals with separate challenges surrounding a pair of troubled starters, Nate Robertson and Dontrelle Willis.

For Leyland, there are two issues tied to Bonderman's outing.

"Number one, how's he throwing the ball, and number two, how's he feel the next day?" the manager said.

"If he doesn't throw the ball well, that could throw up a red flag."

If all goes well, Bonderman will likely start Thursday against the Atlanta Braves at the Disney World complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

There can be no further setbacks, Leyland said Friday, if the 26-year-old right-hander is to be ready when the Tigers arrive at Toronto for Opening Day, April 6.

"I can't swear on Bonderman just yet," said Leyland, who only hopes that Bonderman's progress, and his doctors' reassurances, put Bonderman back into the starting mix.

The Tigers are already bracing for the possibility that neither Robertson nor Willis may be ready because of their assorted troubles during the past year. The absence of Bonderman could represent a double whammy.

Zach Miner and 20-year-old Rick Porcello loom as replacements, although the Tigers appear to prefer Miner as a relief pitcher. Porcello was supposed to begin the 2009 season at Double-A Erie but is making a bid to join the rotation.

Joel Zumaya, who has not pitched in a couple of weeks because of shoulder discomfort, is also slated to pitch an inning today against a team of Tigers roster players and minor leaguers. (did not pitch)

Kyle Bloom, the Rule 5 left-hander, will pitch against a lineup of all left-handed batters arranged by the Tigers staff.

Hot, cold

Jackson began by putting down nine consecutive Mets on so few pitches Leyland had no problem sending him out for the fourth and fifth innings.

Back-to-back home runs leading off the fourth ended Jackson's perfection, and back-to-back walks in the top of the fifth sent him packing after he reached a 60-pitch limit.

"He got a little fastball-happy," Leyland said of Jackson, the 25-year-old right-hander who allowed three hits, four runs, walked two and struck out two in five innings. "But he was fine.

"I'm thrilled where he's at. I thought he threw extremely well."

Freddy Dolsi relieved Jackson and allowed two runs on four hits in a one-inning effort. Zach Simons (two runs), Brandon Lyon (one run, unearned), Bobby Seay (one hit, one strikeout), and Chris Lambert also pitched for the Tigers.

The Tigers took a 2-0 lead into the fourth. Jeff Larish 's double set up their first run, with the second coming on Adam Everett 's first home run of the spring.

The boss

Tigers owner Mike Ilitch made his annual visit to Lakeland. He met with his front-office brass, headed by Dave Dombrowski , the Tigers president and general manager, and with Leyland.

"Just a general conversation about what I've seen so far," Leyland said. "He asked some good questions and I thought I gave some good answers."

Around the horn

Leyland on outfielder Brent Clevlen , who is out of options and must make the team or be placed on waivers if he isn't traded: "He's had a real good spring. He looks good. He's made a conscious effort to make adjustments (reducing strikeouts). Right now, he looks pretty good."

...Leyland acknowledged he's concerned about his World Baseball Classic players (Miguel Cabrera , Curtis Granderson , Magglio Ordonez , Carlos Guillen , and pitcher Armando Galarraga ): "I'm worried about that. I'm worried about all of them. I'm worried about what kind of shape they're going to be in."

You can reach Lynn Henning at lynn.henning@detnews.com


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–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers News - FROM THE DETROIT NEWS 2009 Season   Sat Mar 14, 2009 6:53 pm

Then ya shouldn't have let them play in the WBC, Jim!
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers News - FROM THE DETROIT NEWS 2009 Season   Sat Mar 14, 2009 6:57 pm

laprimamirala wrote:
Then ya shouldn't have let them play in the WBC, Jim!

That is for sure! Other teams asked their guys not to play... so why not Jimbo.


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PostSubject: Re: Tigers News - FROM THE DETROIT NEWS 2009 Season   Wed Mar 18, 2009 8:19 pm

Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Tigers: Notebook
Leyland worried about Tigers' cohesiveness
World Baseball Classic has kept the Tigers from full roster, now they have two weeks left in Florida.
Tom Gage / The Detroit News

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Tigers are off today, their second open date in a week. When they return Thursday, though, they'll have two weeks remaining to the Florida portion of spring training.

On their way to Toronto for the start of the regular season, they'll play two exhibition games in Atlanta, but the countdown clock here soon will begin ticking loudly.

And with Venezuela heading with four Tigers to the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic, there won't be much time for Jim Leyland's team to be together before breaking camp.

Enough time, though?

"If they were coming back on the 23rd and we were leaving on the 28th, it would not be good," Leyland said. "I can see by watching them, they need some work."

Carlos Guillen, for instance, has been Venezuela's designated hitter, not its left fielder.

"I'd like to get them all here, and weed out a little bit earlier if I could," Leyland said, "because I would like our club to get together for a few days in the clubhouse.

"You know, get some of the lockers out of here and make it more like a major-league clubhouse and have them bumping into each other. That's always a good thing.

"I would like to do that. But the more important thing is that they need work."

No Pudge sighting

Tuesday's game was the only one the Tigers will play this spring against the Astros, so they'll not face former teammate Pudge Rodriguez , who agreed to a one-year deal with the Astros on Monday.

Of the agreement, Leyland said "I had a conversation with (Astros manager) Cecil Cooper about it. I think it's great. I'm glad to see he'll be playing. I'm glad to see he's signed. It's a good situation for him.

"I have a lot of respect for Pudge. We had only two run-ins in three years. With a superstar, I think that's pretty good. He played hard, he played hurt and he came to beat the other team.

"I told Cecil he'll be in as good shape or better as anybody he has on the team."

When asked for his definition of a "run-in", Leyland said "a blow up."

Porcello's start delayed

Thursday's intrasquad game has been canceled because Nate Robertson 's next appearance was bumped to Friday against the Washington Nationals.

Prompting the switch was the need for Rick Porcello 's next start to be delayed another day, allowing more time for the cut under the fingernail of his right index finger to heal.

That means Porcello, if the cut has healed, will start Saturday in Tampa against the New York Yankees instead of in Lakeland on Friday against the Nationals.

"If he's a legitimate candidate, I think this is a great thing," Leyland said. "The stage with the Yankees is a little bigger. But there's a chance he'll be pushed back again. We're not going to take any chances.

"I talked with him and he had a Band-Aid on it. He said 'I can throw, but every time I do, it bleeds.' That's not good."

Around the horn

Not addressing the politics of the situation, but sympathetic that one of his players is going through a difficult time, Leyland said he might call Magglio Ordonez to see how he's coping.

Playing at Miami in WBC, Ordonez has been the target of booing from angry Venezuelans objecting to his support of president Hugo Chavez.

Over the winter, Ordonez appeared in a political ad featuring this message: "The best of the revolution is yet to come."

... The Tigers got a brief scare in the fourth inning of Tuesday's game when Placido Polanco took a hard fall after catching a pop-up, hitting his head on the ground. He stayed down for a few moments, prompting a visit from trainer Kevin Rand , but remained in the game.

... Marcus Thames took batting practice for the first time since straining an abdominal muscle a week ago. He could be back in the lineup by the weekend.

You can reach Tom Gage at tom.gage@detnews.com.


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PostSubject: Re: Tigers News - FROM THE DETROIT NEWS 2009 Season   Tue Mar 24, 2009 3:00 pm

Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Tigers: Notebook
Chase Lyon gives up four straight homers in loss
Right-hander, who will likely be team's closer, gets rocked in the sixth inning of Tigers' loss.
Tom Gage / The Detroit News

FT. MYERS, Fla. -- Regular season, no problem. It's easy to find out how many times one pitcher has allowed four consecutive home runs. Twice.

Yankees pitcher Chase Wright gave up four in a row to the Red Sox in 2007.

Paul Foytack -- a little more than a month after Detroit traded him to Los Angeles -- gave up four in a row to the Indians in 1963.

But how many times has it been done in spring training? No telling. Such records aren't kept.

Whatever the number, though, Brandon Lyon became the latest victim Monday when he allowed four in a row in the sixth inning of the Tigers' 7-6 loss to the Red Sox.

Mike Lowell connected first, followed by Jason Bay, Chris Carter, and Ivan Ochoa.

With Lyon still in the game, and the crowd of 8,278 clamoring for one more, catcher Dusty Brown popped up to first baseman Mike Hessman.

For the second straight day -- following the no-hitter by the Marlins -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland's first postgame words were: "Never seen that before."

He'd never seen a no-hitter thrown in spring training.

He also hadn't ever seen a pitcher allow four consecutive home runs. But he wasn't alarmed. Spring training, remember. Most of the damage that ever gets done doesn't mean much. Not that anyone ever likes to allow four in a row, though.

"Hopefully they're all out of me," Lyon said. "During the regular season, I wouldn't have pitched the way I did today, I would have thrown more breaking balls. I was throwing a lot of fastballs. A lot of it had to do with falling behind in the count.

"I'm a get-ahead type pitcher. I need to get ahead of hitters."

The barrage began with Lowell connecting on a 3-1 pitch. Bay hit a 2-2 pitch, Carter 0-1 and Ochoa on a full count.

"The ones they hit caught a lot more of the plate than I wanted them to," Lyon said. "I wouldn't say they were quality pitches."

All four home runs were hit to left, the direction in which the wind was blowing. But they weren't homers because of the wind.

"He got behind hitters, threw the ball up in the strike zone and the wind was blowing out," Leyland said. "Period."

Zumaya feels good


Joel Zumaya felt good after a light session off a mound in Lakeland on Monday.

"I got great news about that, but I've been down that road before," Leyland said. "He hasn't pitched since Florida Southern (on March 2). It's becoming a real short spring training and the guy's still not pitching.

"If he's healthy, as I've said, he will be on the team. But I don't consider not pitching in three weeks, then pitching a couple of times, being healthy and ready to be on the team."

Around the horn


Zach Miner 's spot in the bullpen seems set.

"I'm not sure yet what his role will be," Leyland said. "But it looks like he'll definitely be on the team."

... Outfielder Clete Thomas is over the final hurdle in his recovery from elbow surgery and, as of Wednesday's game, will be cleared to play defense -- after a spring of just pinch-hitting and being a designated hitter.

Thomas' availability, however, will coincide with the return of outfielders Curtis Granderson , Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordonez from the World Baseball Classic, so he might find his playing time limited.

... Jeremy Bonderman and Dontrelle Willis will start in a camp game today, but Armando Galarraga , also back from the WBC, will get some work as well.

"He'll throw around 65 pitches," Leyland said. "He's already thrown 79 pitches (in the WBC), but we think that was a little too fast so we're going to back it off, then take it back up the next time."

Instead of four days rest after the camp game, however, Galarraga will get five days. Given that schedule, his next start against a major league team will be Monday against the Nationals.

... Despite Bonderman's late start this spring, Leyland said, "if everything goes well, he should be up to 85-90 pitches by the end of camp."

... New leg kick or old leg kick in the camp game for Willis, by the way?

"It'll be whatever he and (pitching coach) Rick Knapp have been working on," Leyland said. "I'm kind of staying away from it."


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PostSubject: Re: Tigers News - FROM THE DETROIT NEWS 2009 Season   Sat Mar 28, 2009 10:58 am

Saturday, March 28, 2009
Tigers: Notebook
Tigers manager Leyland checks Verlander's swing
Manager says he's not going to let his Opening Day pitcher hurt his rib cage on an at-bat.
Tom Gage / The Detroit News

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Not even once.

As much as he wanted to, while pitching well in the Tigers' 3-2 loss on Friday to the Atlanta Braves, Justin Verlander did not swing the bat.

"A little blow to my ego," he said, laughing. "But it looked like I was going to swing, didn't it?"

The first time, perhaps, but not the third time.

Verlander struck out looking his first time up. Laid down a sacrifice bunt his second time. And standing as far away from the plate as is allowed -- "I was told the pitcher looked a little erratic," he said -- he took a called third strike in the seventh.

Oh, how he wanted to swing, though -- and was in the process of planning to.

Until manager Jim Leyland intervened.


"I told him (on Thursday) that he was starting the opener," Leyland said. "But I don't know if he heard me. He was getting a bat, wanting to swing it against the Braves, and I said to him, 'Are you nuts? You're the Opening Day pitcher.'

"I told him I've seen guys pull rib cages swinging a bat. He's athletic. He probably could get a hit, but I didn't want him swinging. I want him to stand up there like Zach Miner did the other day -- take three pitches and strike out or four pitches and walk."

Big moment

Verlander threw 75 pitches in seven shutout innings, but the first two weren't close to being strikes. Right then, he took a deep breath -- "had a little conversation with myself," he said -- and settled down.

"I said, 'Calm down, throw a strike, let's pound the zone.' From that point on, I felt I was able to do it all day. That was a major 'point in this game.'

"At 2-0, I'm probably not going to battle back for a strikeout," Verlander said. "So the best way out of it is to make a quality pitch and let him get himself out. Don't be afraid of contact."

Arm angle

Verlander said he's lowered his -- and that it's made a big difference already.

"At first it felt awkward, but after looking at video, I told myself that I need to do this. If I want to get back to old form, I need to get back to how I used to throw the ball.

"So I've really committed myself to it. I feel like the dividends far outweigh the negatives."

The negatives being "a little bit of soreness here and there," he added. "But the guys I've talked to say that's normal."

Looking ahead

Four of the Tigers' final eight spring games are against the Braves.

A week from today, in fact, Detroit will be in Atlanta.

But before then, the Tigers will make 13 more roster moves. Leyland hopes to have them all done by the time they leave Florida.

"There've been a lot of stories over the years about guys who had their bag on the bus only to be told at the last minute (he hadn't made the team)," Leyland said. "I remember one guy who said he had his bag on the bus nine straight years, but never played in the majors."

Leyland isn't sure the story is true, but he doesn't want his final cuts to experience anything close to that kind of embarrassment.

Around the horn

The injury update is favorable: Left-hander Nate Robertson (sprained left thumb) "was gripping the ball pretty firmly," Leyland said. "He's a lot better."

... Shortstop Adam Everett (sprained left ankle) "also felt much better," Leyland said. "And Joel Zumaya said he feels good. So we're injured a little bit, but we're on the mend a little bit."

... Asked again when left-hander Dontrelle Willis will pitch again, Leyland said, "I think we'll pair him with Jeremy Bonderman on Sunday. We're just running out of spots."


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PostSubject: Re: Tigers News - FROM THE DETROIT NEWS 2009 Season   Sat Mar 28, 2009 11:58 pm

Saturday, March 28, 2009
Tigers: Notebook
Tigers like Ryan Perry's 'non-shakeability'
Lynn Henning / The Detroit News

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- There has been tumult over 20-year-old right-hander Rick Porcello's bid to make the Tigers' starting rotation. There has been stress surrounding the fates and physical status of Nate Robertson, Dontrelle Willis, Jeremy Bonderman and Joel Zumaya.

Meanwhile, one pitcher's steadily spectacular spring has often been overwhelmed by spring camp's ongoing melodrama. Until Saturday, anyway, when rookie right-hander Ryan Perry threw another robust inning of shutout relief that had his manager raving.

"He's trying to make the team," Jim Leyland said after Perry struck out two Toronto Blue Jays batters in Detroit's 5-1 victory at Dunedin Stadium. "I've been very impressed with his non-shakeability."

Saturday's "non-shakeability" was most on display after the Blue Jays put a pair of runners on with no one out after Perry came on to pitch the eighth inning. A single to left, and a double-play grounder botched by shortstop Danny Worth, put Perry and the Tigers in trouble until Perry got the next three batters on a strikeout, groundout and a final strikeout.

"He threw some nasty sliders," Leyland said of Perry, whose spring earned-run average dropped to 0.93 after Saturday's stint. "That's electric stuff. He got 'em both going (high-90-mph fastball and slider).

"He's trying to make the team," Leyland repeated. "He's not just here for his first big-league camp.

"I really respect that. I think he and Porcello both came in to make the team. That's a very impressive characteristic."

So impressive, in fact, that Perry could be on his way to landing a spot on the Tigers' 25-man roster when Leyland nails down his final list sometime this week.

Perry was the Tigers' first-round draft pick last June out of the University of Arizona. He was celebrated for a 100-mph fastball and for the kind of power-pitching package that could bring him to the big leagues in a hurry.

No one in the Tigers organization, at least publicly, expected his path to Detroit to include Opening Day 2009. But with Zumaya likely out for at least the first few weeks of the regular season, Leyland, whose backend bullpen corps could use another power arm, may have seen enough already out of Perry to consider him as one of his 12 pitchers.

Perry is ready if the Tigers are.

"If they think I can fill that spot, yes I do," said Perry, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound right-hander who last month turned 23.

"I came in knowing there might be a couple of spots open because of injuries."

But, Perry said, with a grin: "My main concern was to get my arm ready to head to Erie (Detroit's Double-A farm club)."

Perry's mound appearance, even in tight situations, suggests a man who either replaced his blood with chilled water or long ago mastered meditation. If he suffers from nerves, it is carefully concealed.

"My biggest thing is deep breaths," Perry said. "Since college, that's been my biggest focus. It completely relaxes my whole body."

Windy victory

The best thing that happened Saturday to the Tigers at Dunedin Stadium is that no player was blown into the Gulf of Mexico. Winds in excess of 40-mph at times made batted baseballs behave like Frisbees in a hurricane.

"Worst wind we've had," Leyland said after the Tigers, behind some strong starting pitching from Edwin Jackson, beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 5-1.

"I think it bothers everybody," Leyland said of the gusts and their effects on position players and even pitchers. "Umpires. Catchers trying to catch a pitch at 95 mph."

Leyland was especially impressed by the way his new left fielder, Carlos Guillen, handled the gale.

"It was a miserable day for outfielders," Leyland said. "I was surprised -- Guillen really looked smooth.

"It was a pretty tough day. I was very happy."

Jackson's start

Jackson threw seven solid innings Saturday as he did his best to help stabilize the Tigers' unsettled starting rotation.

The 25-year-old right-hander, who will pitch in the Tigers' second regular-season game at Toronto, allowed six hits, one run, walked none and struck out four.

"They hit a couple of balls on the nose early, but the most impressive thing to me," Leyland said, "is that he got stronger as the game went on."

The lone Blue Jays run allowed came in the third inning courtesy of three singles -- two slapped through the hole at shortstop, and the third a single to deep shortstop.

Jackson was generally ahead in the count against Toronto's batters and steadily avoided high pitch-counts.

The Tigers got a two-run home run from Placido Polanco, as well as a RBI-double from Curtis Granderson. Miguel Cabrera drove in a run with a single, and Gerald Laird added a RBI on a long sacrifice fly to left field.

After the Jays failed to do any damage against Perry in the eighth, Scott Williamson finished up with a scoreless ninth.

The Tigers moved their Grapefruit League record to 11-14-1.


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PostSubject: Re: Tigers News - FROM THE DETROIT NEWS 2009 Season   Thu Apr 02, 2009 11:38 am

Thursday, April 2, 2009
Notebook
Eddie Bonine makes Tigers' staff
Tom Gage / The Detroit News

Lakeland, Fla. -- Rick Porcello making the team as a starting pitcher, great story.

Ryan Perry, making the team as a relief pitcher less than a year after being drafted, great story.

But don't forget Eddie Bonine. He made the team Wednesday after being told in January he was off the 40-man roster.

That's a heck of a story, too.

"When we took him off (in January), I called him, didn't get him, but left him a long message, telling him what we were doing," Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "I told him to stay positive, work hard, and that I've seen players who were taken off the roster come back to the big leagues and have a very good career."

Bonine's taken the first step in that process. He's already back in the majors.


How did he do it?

"He's pitched very well this spring," Dombrowski said. "He throws harder out of the bullpen than he did starting and he bounces back well."

That's how.

Not now

• For Mike Hessman, who will accept an assignment to Triple-A Toledo, only if he's not claimed off waivers by another club or doesn't sign with a Japanese team?

"I was prepared for this," he said. "It's frustrating, but hopefully I can get picked up by somebody. I want to play in the big leagues. I know I can help a team win some games. There's no doubt about that in my mind."

If not picked up, the 31-year-old said, "There's been some interest overseas. I might have to go that route. I'd absolutely consider it.

"I'd accept the assignment to Toledo ... but the Tigers have said they won't stand in my way. I'm not getting any younger."

• For Ryan Raburn , who was optioned to Toledo: "They told me they were going a different route and just go play. It's tough, but it's their decision. Nothing I can do about it. I didn't have the greatest spring to make them feel otherwise. I probably didn't help my cause any. So I was pretty sure this was going to happen."

• For Clay Rapada , also optioned to Toledo: "He very easily could have been on the club," manager Jim Leyland said. "We're very pleased with his progress. That was a tough one."

• For Scott Williamson , who was sent to minor league camp for assignment: "He has an excellent chance of coming back and helping us," Leyland said. "As we spoke, he's agreed to go to Triple A."

• For Nate Robertson , now in the bullpen instead of starting: "I don't think it's anything to be down about," Leyland said. "The key is in how he handles it."

• And for Joel Zumaya and Jeremy Bonderman , both of whom will begin the season on the disabled list: "I don't think they'll be out very long," Dombrowski said. "I don't think Bonderman is quite as close, but I'm encouraged. He's not having pain."

Around the horn

Any possible trades looming?

"I don't have anything right now that would affect what we do," Dombrowski said. "But I've had a lot of conversations."

... On Perry making the team: "I really wasn't thinking, going into spring training, that he would make the club," Dombrowski said. "But I knew he would light up a lot of eyes."

... How did speedy new Tigers outfielder Josh Anderson get so fast? "Running away from my older brother when I was a kid so he wouldn't beat me up," he said.

tom.gage@detnews.com


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PostSubject: Re: Tigers News - FROM THE DETROIT NEWS 2009 Season   Sun Apr 19, 2009 9:17 am

Saturday, April 18, 2009
Notebook
Tigers' Porcello still relaxed as second start awaits
Tom Gage / The Detroit News

Seattle -- It will have been 10 days between starts for rookie Rick Porcello, an eternity for someone less patient.

But not an eternity to him.

Porcello is eager to make his second major league start, which will occur on Sunday at Safeco Field against the Seattle Mariners, but not so eager that he's pacing in anticipation -- or even to the point of being, as Ryan Perry would say, "amped up."

Porcello does a good job of keeping his amps down.

As he sat on the couch before Saturday night's game, watching on TV as the Cleveland Indians trounced the New York Yankees 22-4, Porcello sounded as if he was talking about a major league routine he's been through for years -- instead of trying to cope with a long rest after his first start.

"I've been watching the games and trying to learn as much as I can from the hitters," he said.

How much has he thrown between starts?

"One full bullpen," he said, "then a light one (on Friday).
Obviously it's been longer than usual between my starts. I'm eager to get back out there, but also to get back into the routine."

Getting back to the routine won't be a problem for this third start. After an off-day on Monday, the Tigers will start Armando Galarraga, Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson in that order in Anaheim against the Angels.

That means Porcello will be on the mound for the first game of the Kansas City series Friday night. That also means Porcello's first three starts as a Tiger will have been on the road.

Fortunately, he's not a stickler for all mounds being equal.

"You just try to adjust as quickly as you can," he said. "I don't do much to a mound to prepare it 'my way', so to speak. I'm not too particular."

Nor too jittery.

It's been a long wait between starts, but judging from the low-key tenor of the conversation, Porcello coped well.

Big step

Joel Zumaya may have taken a giant stride Saturday toward returning to the Tigers when he threw two scoreless innings of relief in Toledo's 3-1 victory over Columbus.

It was Zumaya's first appearance at the Triple A level during his injury rehab. He allowed two singles in the two innings and struck out one. He threw 26 pitches, 17 of them for strikes.

Around the horn

Shortstop Adam Everett missed his third game because of the flu. When asked if Everett was available if needed, manager Jim Leyland said "probably not. I'd hate to ask him to do it.:

... Leyland and Gary Sheffield played phone tag on Saturday, in the wake of Sheffield's 500th home run. "I called him twice," Leyland said. "He called me back and I missed it."

Leyland foresees Sheffield being a first-ballot Hall of Famer by virtue of the following numbers: With his milestone home run on Friday, the former Tigers' designated hitter joined Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Barry Bonds, Frank Robinson and Reggie Jackson as the only players with 500 home runs and at least 2,500 hits, 1,500 RBIs and 200 steals.

... Justin Verlander said he was going to have a discussion with "the baseball gods" after Friday night's disappointing 6-3 loss, a game in which he pitched four perfect innings before allowing five runs in the fifth.

When asked on Saturday if the gods replied, Verlander said, "I'll let you know in five days."

... Brandon Inge was angry at himself for the throwing error he made in the five-run fifth. The Mariners scored their second run when Inge made a bad throw home in an attempt to cut down a run.

Citing three costly ingredients of the blunder, Inge said, "I rushed, didn't get a good grip on the ball, and it didn't come out my hand the way it should have."

tom.gage@detnews.com


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PostSubject: Re: Tigers News - FROM THE DETROIT NEWS 2009 Season   Sun Apr 26, 2009 9:57 am

Saturday, April 25, 2009
Notebook
Tigers' Ordonez loses his single status
Lynn Henning / The Detroit News

Kansas City, Mo. -- In a span of 17 games, 19 days, and 65 at-bats, Magglio Ordonez had acted as if he wanted to join a singles club.

Singles are all he had hit during those long days when one of baseball's noteworthy sluggers had failed to smack a double, triple, or home run.

"About time, huh?" Ordonez asked, with a grin after returning to his locker following a shower that helped soak in the delight of having finally broken into the extra-base-hit circle during Saturday's 9-1 Tigers victory over the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium.

He did it in grand fashion, at that. He slammed an eighth-inning pitch from Jamey Wright on a distant arc, 431 feet into the fountains in deep left-center field.


It came one at-bat after Ordonez had produced nearly as much astonishment with a fly ball to the warning track in right-center field.

"Mac (hitting coach Lloyd McClendon) thought that was the best swing he had all spring," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said afterward, referring to the deep-drive out that once upon a time had been routine for Ordonez, but had become a rarity this spring as Ordonez hit an abundance of ground balls and pop flies.

"Hitting is very complicated," said Ordonez, who two years ago won the American League batting championship with a .363 average. "If you try and figure it out, you never figure it out.

"Sometimes it takes just one at-bat."

Ordonez is 35 and not likely to produce the gaudy numbers and power that he generated in earlier years. He conceded Saturday night that his maddening inability to swat more than singles had been working on him.

"Every day," he said. "No doubles, no home runs.

"But that's baseball. It's not how you start. It's how you finish."


Zumaya's challenge

Getting healthy was Task One. Winning back a spot on Leyland's pitching staff was the next assignment, which Joel Zumaya completed Friday.

Saturday night, he pitched in his first game since Aug. 12, 2008. It went smoothly enough as Zumaya got out of his ninth-inning stint with no runs, despite having given up a pair of singles.

And that would be the next step for a 24-year-old reliever who figures to make a heavy difference in how Leyland's back-end bullpen performs -- if he can return to the pitching style he flashed before injuries began ripping at him two years ago.

Zumaya must regain command of his old repertoire.

"He's gonna need his curveball," Leyland said after Zumaya's return. "They centered it pretty good off him."

The "it" was Zumaya's blowtorch fastball, which no longer generates the oohs and aahs it did during Zumaya's rookie season of 2006.

"Those days are over," Leyland said, referring to the amazing number of big-league pitchers who can throw in the high 90s. "They see so many of 'em now."

Zumaya realizes, as does his manager, that it will take time. He has not pitched for any sustained stretch since 2006. But his arm, he repeated Saturday, is "100 percent."

"I'm fine," said Zumaya, who was noticeably upbeat afterward. "I did what I had to do.

"I had jitters -- a lot of jitters. But it's good to have a few jitters in this game."

Robertson's role

For the second consecutive night, Leyland was able to use Nate Robertson in relief. And for the second consecutive night, Robertson did the job: 2/3 of an inning, no hits, one walk.

"I think he wants to be a starting pitcher," Leyland acknowledged of Robertson, whose troubles in spring camp landed him a new job in relief. "But I take my hat off to him.

"He's busted his (tail), his attitude has been great, and I appreciate that."

Robertson is 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA. He has pitched in five games, spanning 5 2/3 innings, and has allowed four hits, two runs, two walks, and has four strikeouts.

Still struggling

Ordonez's home run kept the middle of Leyland's batting order from having a forgettable game.

Cleanup batter Miguel Cabrera was 0-for-4, as was No.5 hitter Carlos Guillen. Ordonez was 0-for-4 before he walloped his eighth-inning home run.

A few hours before the game, Leyland spoke of the power slumps in which Ordonez and Guillen had found themselves.

"We've got no chance to win," Leyland said, "if the big guys on this team don't do anything."

Sanchez exits

The biggest name among a three-pitcher package sent by the Tigers to the New York Yankees in 2006 in a trade for Gary Sheffield was released Saturday.

Humberto Sanchez, 25, a big right-hander who earlier in his career was viewed as a potentially powerful starting pitcher, was cut from the Yankees' 40-man roster as it underwent realignment.

Sanchez had Tommy John surgery two years ago but made it to the parent team last September for a brief stint. But ongoing ineffectiveness made him a casualty this spring.

Anthony Claggett, a right-hander who had a brief and ugly appearance for the Yankees early in the season, is back at Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre and has a 2-0 record and 4.15 ERA.

Right-handed reliever Kevin Whelan, the third pitcher in the trade, is at Double-A Trenton and has a 3.38 ERA in five games.

Bonderman "OK"

Jeremy Bonderman, who is still trying to regain his strength and old velocity as he pitches at minor-league camp in Lakeland, Fla., had an "OK" appearance Saturday, Leyland said.

Bonderman was reportedly not happy with his pitch quality during an intra-squad game against Tigers minor-leaguers. But during a throwing session in the bullpen later in the day, Bonderman apparently was more inspired by the results.

Leyland conceded it was something of a reversal from what might have been expected. But nothing for Bonderman has gone conventionally during the past year as he recovers from arterial surgery.


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PostSubject: Re: Tigers News - FROM THE DETROIT NEWS 2009 Season   Sun May 17, 2009 9:48 pm

Saturday, May 16, 2009
Notebook
Ryan Raburn stops sweating, starts contributing
Tim Twentyman / The Detroit News

Detroit -- When Tigers outfielder Ryan Raburn didn't make the 25-man roster out of spring training, he obviously was disappointed.

Raburn had gotten a vote of confidence from Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who knew Rayburn was good enough to play on the roster -- it was just a case of not having a spot for him.

So, Raburn went to Triple-A Toledo to bide his time until a call-up to the big leagues.

He got that promotion in late April when Marcus Thames went on the disabled list with a rib cage strain. But Raburn's play through his first 11 games was less than inspiring. He looked uncomfortable in the outfield and out of whack at the plate (.095 batting average) and looked like he was pressing to prove he truly belonged.

"I think a lot of it was my own fault," Leyland said before Saturday's 9-1 victory over the A's. "I think when I said he deserved to be on the team and everything (out of spring training), that when he came up it probably put some added pressure on him. The fact that I had kind of endorsed him, he wanted so bad to do good that I think it probably backfired. I take the blame for that."

But Raburn, 28, has started to break out of his funk over the last two games and finally is playing exactly how Leyland knows he can.

In Saturday's rout, his three-run homer highlighted a five-run fifth inning. And in Friday's 14-1 victory, he hit the second grand slam of his career. It's the first time Raburn has homered in consecutive games.

"You have to cope with stuff, too, and be able to do it yourself. You can support people and everything, but there is the moment of truth when you play that you have to do something," Leyland said. "I think he was putting a lot of pressure on himself and now I think he's ready to do what we think he's capable of doing, which is contribute to our ball club. I think he'll be fine."

No shortage of production

One of the biggest deficiencies for the Tigers last year was offensive production from the shortstop position. Last year's starter Edgar Renteria, who now plays for the Giants, batted .270 with an on-base-percentage of .317 and 55 RBIs.

Through the Tigers first 35 games this year, the platoon of Adam Everett, 32, and Ramon Santiago, 29, has combined to hit .288 (38-of-132) with eight doubles, three home runs and 30 RBIs. To put those 30 RBIs in perspective, no single major league shortstop has more than 20 RBIs.
"I think we are just kind of feeding off each other," said Everett, a free agent signed in the offseason for one year and $1 million. "Santiago and I are having a lot of fun with it. We are really rooting for each other and we want to see each other do well and I think that's what makes us click."

Bonderman pitches well

Making his first injury rehabilitation, right-handed starter Jeremy Bonderman pitched seven strong innings for Class A West Michigan on Saturday.

He allowed two runs on six hits and one walk while striking out four. He got the win as the Whitecaps beat the visiting Great Lakes Loons, 13-6.

Bonderman, 26, has been on the disabled list all season with a sore throwing shoulder. He hasn't pitched in the majors since last June, when he underwent medical procedures to remove a blood clot.

Sardinha still hurting

Tigers backup catcher Dane Sardinha was sitting at his locker before Saturday's game trying to loosen up that sprained right ring finger he suffered last week Minneapolis. Sardinha, 30, said the finger still was "very stiff and pretty sore."

He didn't play Saturday, though Leyland said he could be ready for Sunday's series finale.

"It was pretty swelled up and black and blue, it was ugly," Leyland said. "They were worried that there was a crack there but they think it might be an old crack. He looks like he's all right. He might be sore for a couple days."

Around the horn

Leyland's pick to win the Preakness, the second leg of horse racing's Triple Crown, was Big Drama, who faded at the end and finished fifth.

... Fans were treated to a game of chase between a squirrel and five members of the Tigers grounds crew before the game. The squirrel emerged from the Tigers dugout, made its way down the left-field line and ran across the warning track to left center before escaping into the A's bullpen, where the crewmembers left it.

... Gerald Laird snapped an 0-for-26 stretch with an RBI double down the left-field line in the second inning, then added an infield single in the fourth and double to deep left center in the seventh. He improved his average from .195 to .220.

... First baseman Miguel Cabrera continues to improve his defense and showed great athleticism robbing Adam Kennedy of a double in the second inning on a diving stop just behind the bag.

... Magglio Ordonez continues to break out of his slump. He had a double and an RBI on Saturday after going 3-for-3 with two RBIs on Friday.

ttwentyman@detnews.com


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PostSubject: Re: Tigers News - FROM THE DETROIT NEWS 2009 Season   Fri May 22, 2009 4:04 pm

Friday, May 22, 2009
Tigers: Notebook
Thames, Guillen aren't ready to play for Tigers yet
Tom Gage / The Detroit News

Detroit -- Step by step, they're getting better.

But don't look for Marcus Thames or Carlos Guillen to be rejoining the Tigers before they leave town after Sunday's game -- or even during the weeklong trip to Kansas City and Baltimore.

Thames is recovering from a rib cage strain. He has been on the disabled list since April 19. Guillen has been on the DL because of right shoulder inflammation since May 5.

"We're hoping when we go on the road," manager Jim Leyland said, "that Marcus can go down to Toledo and get some at-bats for a week. He needs to get about 30 at-bats. I think it would do him wonders."

Guillen will also need some rehab at-bats, but doesn't have to agree to an assignment.

"Absolutely he'll need it," Leyland said, "but he doesn't have to go."

He'll go, though -- when the time comes.

Around the horn

Jeremy Bonderman pitched six innings for Toledo at Gwinnett in his second rehabilitation start. He gave up six hits, five runs (three earned), two walks and a home run with four strikeouts. He threw 98 pitches, 62 for strikes.

Bonderman is recovering from surgery to remove a blood clot from his right shoulder.

... Not only have the Tigers won six games in a row, but Texas also has lost 11 in a row at Comerica Park.

... Nate Robertson was reinstated to the active roster from the disabled list. He'd been on the DL with a lower back strain.

The Tigers made room after Thursday's 4-3 victory over the Rangers by optioning left-hander Luke French back to Toledo. ... Magglio Ordonez missed his third consecutive game because of his wife's surgery. But Leyland said, "His wife is fine. That's all I know about it."

When Ordonez took his personal leave, however, the Tigers said it could last three days -- and it did.

... Despite the home run he hit on Wednesday night in the one game he started, Wilkin Ramirez was returned to Toledo to make room for Ordonez.

"He's been blessed with power and speed that a lot of people aren't," Leyland said of Ramirez. "I still contend he'll either be a star or not make it at all. I still think that way."


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PostSubject: Re: Tigers News - FROM THE DETROIT NEWS 2009 Season   Sun Jun 07, 2009 10:23 am

Saturday, June 6, 2009
Tigers: Notebook
Jim Leyland plays it carefully with Miguel Cabrera
Terry Foster / The Detroit News

Detroit -- Jim Leyland can afford to lose slugger Miguel Cabrera for a few days. He just can't lose him for a long period of time.

That is why the Tigers manger sat Cabrera for a second straight day Saturday as the Tigers beat the Angels 2-1 at Comerica Park. Leyland didn't rule out using Cabrera as a pinch hitter, as he did Friday night. But Cabrera (left hamstring) is too valuable to this team to have him miss much time.

Cabrera is likely to sit again today when the Tigers and Angels finish up a three-game series. That way the Tigers can use him for Monday's day-night doubleheader in Chicago.

"When you get greedy you get burned," Leyland said. "I always go with the trainers. That is their feeling (he should not play) and I go with it."

Leyland knew Cabrera would not be happy sitting down. That's why he posted the lineup without talking to him. He did not want Cabrera trying to talk him into playing him. That's how Leyland handles things, even when changing pitchers.

"You are better off not talking to a guy like him," Leyland said. "That guy wants to play. They try to talk you out of it. That is why I signal for a new pitcher before I go to the mound because my decision is made and they will try to talk you out of it."

The absence of Cabrera puts a major hole in a struggling lineup. Heading into Saturday's game the Tigers were hitting just .223 the past five games with 10 RBIs and no home runs.

Cabrera is batting .354 with 10 home runs and 38 RBIs.

"When he was first injured they said three to five days," Leyland said. "That's about what it looks like it is going to be. If that's all it is, then I will be tickled to death."

Cabrera dressed but did not work out before the game. He mostly talked with Angels players while they warmed up. But Leyland said using Cabrera as a pinch hitter made sense because the chances of injury were minimal.

"I suppose if you have a similar situation to win the game you take a shot," Leyland said. "He might hit it out or they might be careful with him and he draws a walk."

No more leadoff

Curtis Granderson knew his days of being a leadoff hitter could come to an end. He appears to be the No. 5 hitter until further notice. Heading into Saturday's game Granderson was batting .412 in the middle of the lineup in nine games, as opposed to .244 in the leadoff spot. Granderson said he doesn't feel more comfortable hitting fifth. The numbers have just played out well for him.

"It doesn't really matter to me," Granderson said. "They put me in different spots and my job is to hit. Whether I am leading off an inning or not my job is to get on base."

Granderson knocked in one run Saturday with a sacrifice fly and walked.

Thames returns

Marcus Thames will be in the starting lineup Sunday after being called up from Toledo on Saturday night. Thames injured his rib cage during batting practice in April and was placed on the 15-day disabled list. He struggled to get his timing back with the Mud Hens and went 3-for-25 (.120). But he got hot and batted .500 during one stretch. That includes a four-hit night a week ago, which was followed by a mammoth home run at Fifth Third Field in Toledo.

Thames hit .245 for the Mud Hens with two home runs and six RBIs.

The Tigers sent Jeff Larish to Toledo. He went 1-for-4 Saturday with a double while replacing Cabrera at first base.

Wild pitch

The worst pitch of the night came from Angels reliever Jason Bulger , who sent a 1-2 pitch three feet over the head of batter Brandon Inge . The ball appeared to be rising even as it hit the backstop.

terry.foster@detnews.com (313) 222-1494


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PostSubject: Re: Tigers News - FROM THE DETROIT NEWS 2009 Season   Fri Jul 03, 2009 10:44 am

Thursday, July 2, 2009
Tigers: Notebook
Homers offset June swoon
Tom Gage / The Detroit News

Oakland, Calif. -- Not the best of months, nor the worst.

Brandon Lyon won as many games (2) as Justin Verlander and one more than Edwin Jackson.

Magglio Ordonez had two fewer RBIs (5-7) than Ryan Raburn.

Miguel Cabrera had two fewer RBIs (10-12) than Placido Polanco and as many as Adam Everett. But Cabrera led the team in runs with 16.

Not a single Tiger hit above .300.

The team batting average was a paltry .249.

That was June for the Tigers, a month in which they didn't hit well, and didn't pitch nearly as well as they did in May.

The team ERA was 4.72 compared to 3.57.

But they went 15-13 all the same.

How did the Tigers, as a team, keep their head above water?

Balance and power -- and enough pitching (six pitchers won two games each) to make it work.

On the power end, the Tigers hit 35 home runs. They scored 108 runs, compared to 137 in May and 107 in April, but hit more home runs than in those months, which means they thrived on power because they weren't finding enough other ways to score.

The balance lay in the fact four Tigers hit five or more home runs and five hit four or more. Plus six Tigers drove in at least 10 runs in the month.

Without the extent of their power, the Tigers would have struggled to score. With it, they offset their worst month of on-base percentage (.319) so far.

Who were the Tigers of the Month?

This ballot was cast for two Brandons -- Inge and Lyon.

Inge hit .287, but again, nobody hit higher than .300.

However, Inge tied for the team lead with six home runs and led the Tigers in June with 19 RBIs.

Plus his ninth-inning home run Sunday in Houston was one of the most important hits the Tigers had all month.

Lyon?

Here's why: He became a valuable pitcher again in June. Yes, he won two games, but so did a couple of other relievers: Joel Zumaya and Zach Miner.

In 11 appearances, however, Lyon had 0.56 ERA (after 8.10 in May) and a .100 batting-average-against (after .297 in May).

It was the month in which he began to be used in tight situations, the month in which he became a vital part of the bullpen instead of an expensive extra.

That's why this vote was cast for Lyon.

All in all, it was a strange month for the Tigers -- not one in which they became a first-place team, but one in which they stayed in first, overcoming some reasons that might otherwise have cost them that perch.

Around the horn

Ramon Santiago will rejoin the Tigers on Friday in Minnesota after missing the Oakland series because of a family matter.

. . . Brandon Inge sat out for the second time this season but will be back in the lineup against the Twins.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: Tigers News - FROM THE DETROIT NEWS 2009 Season   

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Tigers News - FROM THE DETROIT NEWS 2009 Season
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