August 2006

Is Maggs' swing back?

That’s two hard-hit balls Magglio Ordonez has pulled in as many days — one double off the left-field wall Wednesday, the other a homer well into the visiting bullpen at Yankee Stadium Thursday. He says he’s feeling well right now and that he’s trying to get back into a rhythm of playing day in and day out for a full season. It’s only two days, but I think it’s fair to say that the suggestions he’s already out of gas have been overblown. He thinks he’s set up to hit well in September. If he doesn’t, I don’t believe fatigue will be to blame.

Overall, however, Jim Leyland isn’t happy with his team’s offense. He’s not complaining about the approaches anymore; he’s just saying they need to score more runs. "We had some pitches to hit," he said Thursday. "We just didn’t hit them." The remarks from Inge make you wonder if there’s any split personality going on with some of the hitters trying to be patient to a fault. There aren’t an abundance of called third strikes to suggest that, but there were a few this series that were over the plate.

Other items from Thursday:

  • I know the replays might make you wonder if Leyland was arguing with the umpires while God Bless America was being played. But after watching the incident again, I don’t think he was. I think he was arguing with his hat off while the public address announcer was speaking before the song. "Well, that was a little embrassing," Leyland said afterwards, "and I certainly in no way, shape or form meant to be disrespectful. But you can’t call time and say, ‘I’ve got to listen to Kate.’"
  • It’ll be interesting to see what happens at second base this weekend with Neifi Perez battling a minor injury while also struggling at the plate. I’d expect Omar Infante to start at least once this weekend if not more. If he can hit and make the routine play in the field, he’ll push for more playing time.
  • I didn’t put it in the early notes, but both Leyland and Placido Polanco said they’re hoping he can return to action in as little as two weeks. He might not immediately return to the second spot after missing so many games, Leyland suggested, but his presence in the field alone could be big in late September.
  • I wouldn’t expect many call-ups, if any, to Detroit tomorrow when rosters officially expand, especially now that it looks like Ledezma will start Sunday. It’s more likely to happen once some of the minor league regular seasons end this weekend.
  • Leyland on the difference between the Yankees payroll and the Tigers payroll: "It’s just common sense. If you go to the clothing store with $500 and I go with $100, you should come out with better. You’ll be wearing cashmere and I’ll be wearing some itchy tweed."
  • Leyland on Casey’s collision at first base Wednesday night: "He doesn’t go to Arthur Murray on the weekends, I can tell you that. He might be a star, but he won’t be dancing."

Ledezma, Thursday's lineup

About that Sunday starting spot — yeah, they might start someone on short rest after all, but it won’t be Robertson. Leyland said this morning that he’s leaning towards starting Ledezma, who didn’t throw a lot of pitches last night (though that wasn’t the reason he was pulled in the sixth). He didn’t come out and name Ledezma to the rotation, but it’s starting to sound like it.

"The way I look at it," he said, "is we found potentially another real good left-handed starting pitcher."

As for the lineup this afternoon, Pudge is batting leadoff at catcher, Guillen is playing at 1B, and Perez/Infante is the middle infield. Thames is batting third and playing LF.

Something to consider

Here’s something to think about while readying for a long day for baseball: With the doubleheader today and no off day anytime soon, the Tigers have a decision to make for their Sunday night game against the Angels. Do they start Nate Robertson or Wilfredo Ledezma on short rest, do they give Zach Miner a spot start, or do they see if Mike Maroth (who was slated to throw in the bullpen this morning) is ready for a start by then? Keep in mind, Robertson is 0-3 with an 8.13 ERA in six career starts against the Angels.

For those of you wondering …

What happened to Randy Johnson’s starting assignment Wednesday night? The Yankees pushed him back to Thursday after Tuesday’s game was postponed so that they wouldn’t have two of their best pitchers going on the same day.

Game called

It’s been raining all day here, and it wasn’t looking like it would lighten up enough to play. Day-night doubleheader Wednesday at 1:05 and 7:05 p.m. Nate Robertson will start the afternoon tilt, Wilfredo Ledezma the nightcap.

Roster moves

To make room for Alexis Gomez on the 40-man roster, the Tigers designated for assignment the contract of Nook Logan. Plus, the Tigers called up Tony Giarratano and placed him on their 15-day DL while he recovers from ACL surgery.

Remembering Carl Pavano

While the fan debate continues about what to expect from Magglio Ordonez down the stretch, here’s a moment to remember what that free-agent money two years ago could’ve gotten the Tigers. Yes, Carl Pavano is back in the news, this time for not telling Yankees officials he had been in an auto accident that, as it turned out, resulted in broken ribs. A few days ago, it was looking possible Pavano could pitch Thursday against the team that ardently but unsuccessfully wooed him. Now, the Tigers won’t see him, and I’m sure more than a few Yankees wish they never had.

As much as Detroiters like to thank their lucky stars that Juan Gonzalez never signed the contract extension the Tigers offered him six years ago, one can make a pretty good argument that the Pavano deal ranks up there, too. Maybe some of this stuff would’ve never happened in Detroit. Maybe he would’ve thrived without the pressure of performing (or not performing) in New York. But add Pavano and take away Rogers, and who knows what this team would look like right now.

No on Maroth, yes on Miller

After more elbow tenderness in his side session, Mike Maroth is not starting Wednesday. Wilfredo Ledezma will start in his place. To fill the second lefty spot in the bullpen, the Tigers are calling up first-round pick Andrew Miller — who was already expected here in September — and optioning Colby Lewis to Toledo. Plus, Brent Clevlen is headed back to Erie for the final week of the Double-A season and Alexis Gomez is being called up for an extra left-handed bat. That’s all.

Rotation change

Maroth was back with the team Saturday, and unless his elbow tenderness prevents him from pitching effectively, he’ll be back in the rotation Wednesday at Yankee Stadium. Nate Robertson is bumped up from Wednesday to Tuesday. Zach Miner is out of the rotation unless he has to start for Maroth Wednesday, which judging from Maroth’s health appears extremely unlikely. That’s the rotation Jim Leyland plans to use the rest of the season — no spot starters unless necessary.

Neifi leading off at SS

Carlos Guillen gets a day off at first base (sorry about that), with Neifi Perez at short and Omar Infante at 2B. Not exactly earth-shattering news, but interesting. Both are natural shortstops, but Perez has obviously had more playing time at second than Infante lately. Granderson’s out against the left-hander. It’ll be telling to see how the Tigers approach Sowers, a rookie lefty they haven’t seen before — usually not a good combination for Detroit.