March 12th, 2007

The inside pitch

For the second time in three days, inside pitches are the story for the Tigers — or in this case, against the Tigers. Polanco was hit on the biceps by Al Reyes after Pudge’s home run in the third, and he says Gary Glover hit him on the first pitch of his next at-bat in the fifth. The pitch wasn’t ruled to have hit him, but Polanco said something to Glover, who proceeded to throw three more inside pitches to him for a rare Polanco four-pitch walk.

Polanco was pretty heated after he had left the game. "It just smells bad," he said of the hit-by-pitch.

Both benches had been warned once Jeremy Bonderman hit Ty Wigginton in the bottom of the third, a half-inning after Polanco’s hit-by-pitch. Nothing came of it, though. Non-roster pitcher Steve Andrade lost a curveball in the sixth and hit Gary Sheffield, who turned away in time to have it hit his back. That was ruled to be accidental, and Sheffield thought it was a pitch that just got away from him. Jim Leyland went out to talk to home-plate umpire Chad Fairchild between innings, but when asked about it after the game, he said they were discussing golf courses.

Todd Jones’ entrance resulted in nothing, though Fairchild reminded him when he entered that there had been a warning issued. "I told him I don’t throw hard enough to hurt anybody anymore," Jones said.

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Nobody on the Tigers is saying they think they’re targets. They just think it’s a coincidence and that guys are struggling to locate inside. As for why the Tigers seem to be the ones getting hit more often than other teams, well, the Tigers have some hitters that crowd the plate. Even if they’re not being brushed back on purpose, they’re in the path if someone’s trying to hit the inside corner and misses.

Other notes today:

  • Bonderman didn’t feel like he had a good feel on his changeup or his slider, but he got by with what he had. Leyland said he left some sliders over the plate but they weren’t hit well. Jones actually pitched well for having to pitch from the middle out.
  • Pudge is seeing the ball very well right now. He was down 0-2 in that home-run bat, fouled off a 1-2 pitch to stay alive, then drove his homer to left. Leyland isn’t talking lineups yet, but it’s pretty clear he’s a real option to lead off when Granderson isn’t playing or they’re facing left-handers (though his home run came off a righty).
  • Ordonez will play tomorrow against the Dodgers in Vero Beach. Monroe is less certain but might play. The DH will be in effect tomorrow, and Sheffield has a well-deserved day off, so that spot is open.
  • The Devil Rays are leaving Al Lang Field after next spring for Port Charlotte, which is a mixed blessing. The stadium here isn’t anything that great, but the view of the water down the third-base line (see bad cell phone picture above) is one of my favorite sights of spring training. It’s one of those postcard-type spring training sights that get you thinking of warm weather if you’re up north.

More hit by pitches

This time, it’s Gary Sheffield leading off the sixth against non-roster pitcher Steve Andrade. The pitch was a curveball, and Chad Fairchild ruled (rightly so, by the looks of it) that it wasn’t intentional. Todd Jones, coincidentally, is now warming up in the bullpen.

Here we go again

Al Reyes hits Placido Polanco with a pitch in the top of the third inning right after Pudge led off with a homer. Jeremy Bonderman retired the first two batters in the bottom of the third, then hit Ty Wigginton on the first pitch. Home-plate umpire Chad Fairchild issues a warning to both dugouts. Wigginton kicks at the dirt on his way to first base.

Postscript: Polanco got four inside pitches next time up for a walk.

First round of cuts

Vasquez, Tata, Sleeth, De La Cruz, Jurrjens, Andrew Miller, Gabe Johnson and Dusty Ryan were optioned out. Vasquez and Tata will go into the rotation at Toledo. Sleeth was optioned to Erie. Miller will start at Lakeland.

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