March 4th, 2008

Yes, I know Todd Jones has a 31.50 ERA

As soon as the great J.R. Towles took Todd Jones deep for the sixth run of the fourth inning, I figured this was coming: A mailbag question arrived starting with the words, "Is it just me or is Todd Jones taking a beating this spring?"

He had a scoreless inning and a one-run inning in his previous two appearances this spring.

My point isn’t to defend Jones, but to defend this point in the spring. Pitchers who don’t have to worry about a roster spot usually go into outings to work on something specific, though whatever Jones was doing clearly wasn’t working Tuesday. Hitters, as Nate Robertson pointed, are in some cases doing the same thing. And games just don’t have a whole lot of intensity, though it would’ve been difficult telling that to the fan in front of the press box today who was yelling at the umpire on literally every pitch before he finally had his fun and went home. And breakout guys on the end of roster or simply non-roster invitees are sometimes doing their damage against Triple-A competition in the later innings, such as Wilkin Ramirez so far.

Once the games get to the middle of March, then there’s something to read. Denny Bautista’s solid spring will get more of a test. Robertson’s inside fastballs will start getting turned upon to some degree. Right now, we’re getting early impressions of who’s on who isn’t, but it’s a small sample with inconsistent criteria.

Today's game

You can kind of tell who’s saying close to Kissimmee by the roster today. A lot more regulars in the lineup than most teams would field for a road game.

  1. Rodriguez, C
  2. Polanco, 2B
  3. Guillen, 1B
  4. Ordonez, DH
  5. Cabrera, 3B
  6. Renteria, SS
  7. T. Perez, LF
  8. Clevlen, RF
  9. Guzman, CF

And for the Astros …

  1. Kazuo Matsui, 2B
  2. Mark Loretta, 3B
  3. Miguel Tejada, SS
  4. Carlos Lee, LF
  5. Lance Berkman, DH
  6. Geoff Blum, 1B
  7. Darin Erstad, RF
  8. Jose Cruz Jr., CF
  9. Brad Ausmus, C

And for the record, Mantei did retire this morning.

Mantei released

The Tigers announced this morning that they’ve released Matt Mantei. He is expected to retire and return home to life as a dad in Stevensville. No word on the results of his visit to the doctor on his shoulder, but it’s presumed the news wasn’t good.

Elsewhere, Fernando Rodney played catch as scheduled this morning. He threw 15 times from 60 feet and felt fine. He expects to be on track to pitch in a game in about two weeks, but that was just his guess and nothing from the athletic training staff.

Clay Rapada, who also has yet to pitch in a game, is also playing catch after being diagnosed with tendinitis in his shoulder. He’s further ahead in his throwing.

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