February 25th, 2007

Giarratano and other news

The rest of the Tigers pitchers threw live batting practice today, and everything went as expected. Mike Maroth said everything felt fine, mixing in some curveballs and cutters with mostly fastballs and changeups, and the eight-minute session went surprisingly quick to him because he didn’t feel tired at the end. His next step is expected to be a two-inning start in Thursday’s spring home opener against the Phillies, though the spring rotation hasn’t been announced yet. And unlike last year, Maroth won’t spend tonight worrying about how his elbow will feel tomorrow.

Among the others throwing was Joel Zumaya, who mixed in some curveballs with his usual fastballs. He lost grip on one of the curves and hit Kevin Hooper in his elbow, giving him a good bruise, but Hooper said he’ll be fine. As he said, thank goodness it wasn’t the fastball.

And now, the rest of the story:

  • The first major injury of camp has befallen shortstop Tony Giaratano, who will have surgery on his right shoulder on Thursday. No idea on how long he’ll be out — new guidelines from Major League Baseball as a result of recent federal law restrict how much clubs can say about a player’s injury — but they’ll likely know more after the surgery. Short term, it doesn’t affect the Tigers too much, since they obviously have plenty of infielders at the big-league level. But depending on what happens with Carlos Guillen’s contract talks, if this is a long-term injury, it means there could be one less potential replacement for him next season should Guillen somehow end up going elsewhere as a free agent. Besides, from a human standpoint, it’s the last thing you want to see for Giarratano, who spend the offseason working his way back from knee surgery so he could be ready for camp. He’s a good kid, and it’s hard to believe it’s been almost two years since he made it to the Majors as an injury fill-in for Guillen.
  • Better news on Craig Dingman, who’s expected to resume full activity in a week after he was diagnosed with right shoulder fatigue rather than any structural damage. He’s been throwing quite a bit since coming down to Lakeland just after the new year.
  • Leyland cautioned again not to assume the last spot in the bullpen will go to a left-hander, though he indicated a second lefty reliever would be better for the staff. Club officials spent some time this morning watching Felix Heredia’s session, which seemed to go smoothly.
  • Leyland also backed up what was already assumed, that Edward Campusano will have to be able to get some big outs if he’s going to make the team. Leyland’s philosophy on Rule 5 draft picks is that he’d rather not try to slip them through a season if it places an undue burden on the rest of the pitching staff, unless the draft pick shows special talent.
  • Picture postcard day in Lakeland today, mostly sunny and in the 70s, which I know is probably the last thing you want to hear if you’re in the Midwest dealing with ice right now. If you’re coming down here anytime in the next couple weeks, though, hopefully it gives you another reason to count down the days, because the forecast looks much the same for a while. Actually, the sky is clouding up as I’m finishing writing this, so maybe this is karma.

I’m off tomorrow, so I’ll check back in for the Tigers against Florida Southern on Tuesday.