March 5th, 2008

Inge, Bautista look good

For those who were wondering, Brandon Inge looked fine in center field today, though he wasn’t really tested all that much (two fly balls). He said he found it pretty simple, that he could read where to position himself before the ball was hit by where the catcher was lining up for the pitch.

"It’s really common sense out there," Inge said. "It’s almost like a golf game. Just figure out the elements and play ’em."

Time will tell whether it ends up being a showcase, but it’s probably better than the challenge of catching again while trying to work in his hitting changes.

More important to the Tigers’ fortunes this year, though, might be the performance of Denny Bautista. He put up two more scoreless innings today, giving him five for the spring, and the only baserunner he allowed was on a walk. Jim Leyland ran him out there earlier than his other two appearances so that he could see how he fared against better hitters, though the fact that it was a Phillies split squad didn’t help that. He’s getting good movement on his pitches right now and he’s locating his fastball for strikes. He threw totally out of the stretch today and said he felt comfortable doing it. One keeps waiting for the wild version of Bautista to come out and struggle to locate, but that hasn’t happened so far.

Leyland has said the last couple days that he has about five relievers fighting for one or two spots (depending on Fernando Rodney’s status as spring goes along). Leyland won’t name names, but he doesn’t really have to. With Matt Mantei heading home and Francisco Cruceta still stuck at home, Bautista is taking advantage of a very good opportunity and gaining confidence with each step. As large as the odds appeared against it, this might be the place where the light turns on for him.


A little behind schedule with the lineups today, but here it is:

  1. Rodriguez, C
  2. Polanco, 2B
  3. Renteria, SS
  4. Ordonez, DH
  5. Cabrera, 3B
  6. Guillen, 1B
  7. Inge, CF
  8. Clete Thomas, RF
  9. Ramirez, LF

And for the Phillies …

  1. Shane Victorino, CF
  2. Brandon Watson, RF
  3. Greg Dobbs, 1B
  4. Pat Burrell, LF
  5. Pedro Feliz, 3B
  6. Chris Snelling, DH
  7. Brad Harman, 2B
  8. Ray Olmedo, SS
  9. Jason Jaramillo, C

I can’t comment on what’s going on in Bradenton, but hopefully you can follow that on Gameday Audio.