May 2008

Verlander on steal of home

He basically said he noticed Johjima taking off and purposely threw the pitch in the dirt so that Miguel Cairo couldn’t get off the squeeze bunt attempt.

“I was getting ready to deliver to the plate [when he noticed Johjima], so I spiked it,” Verlander said. “It was a curveball. I can’t change pitches, but I can throw it where he can’t bunt it.”

Leyland said that Pudge would’ve had the ball in time for the out, but he looked up for Johjima as he tried to grab the ball.

It's the end of May, right?

Hard to tell in Seattle, where it’s a cool, overcast day. What was a sunny morning gave way to showers, which has closed the roof here at Safeco Field. The nice thing about this place, and one of many reasons why it’s one of my favorite ballparks anywhere, is that it still feels like you’re outside even when the roof is closed. Without windows beyond the outfield, you still get the northwest air coming in.

UPDATE @ 3:10pm ET: The roof is now opening. Still overcast, though. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game here with the roof closed. That’s fine with me, though.

As for the game, it’s a pretty standard lineup …

TIGERS (23-31)

  1. Granderson, CF
  2. Polanco, 2B
  3. Guillen, 3B
  4. Ordonez, RF
  5. Thames, LF
  6. Cabrera, 1B
  7. Larish, DH
  8. Renteria, SS
  9. Rodriguez, C

MARINERS (20-35)

  1. Ichiro, CF
  2. Jose Lopez, 2B
  3. Jose Vidro, DH
  4. Raul Ibanez, LF
  5. Adrian Beltre, 3B
  6. Kenji Johjima, C
  7. Jeremy Reed, RF
  8. Miguel Cairo, 1B
  9. Yuniesky Betancourt, SS

On the rehab front, both Rodney and Zumaya threw today with Dave Dombrowski watching. Jim Leyland said that Rodney’s velocity was down around 93 mph, but that his changeup was supposedly outstanding. Zumaya topped out at 97 mph but was more often around 93-95. They’ll get a couple days off, then probably head out on rehab — Rodney to Triple-A Toledo, Zumaya to Class A Lakeland.

Dontrelle to start Tuesday, Guillen working out in LF

Leyland revealed his bigger changes after the game.

  1. Dontrelle Willis and Armando Galarraga will both pitch on Tuesday, with Willis getting the start and Galarraga relieving him. Essentially, that day’s going to be a piggyback start day, like what some teams do with pitchers in the lower levels of the minors.
  2. Carlos Guillen is taking fly balls in left field. There’s no timetable on giving him playing time out there or whether they’ll actually start him there eventually — Thames is going to keep starting in left for the foreseeable future — but Leyland wants to have that as an option in games so that he can start Inge at third some days and still have Guillen in the lineup somewhere other than DH.

Rotation change

This isn’t the big change, but Jeremy Bonderman and Kenny Rogers were flipped in the rotation. Bonderman will pitch here in Seattle on Sunday, and Kenny Rogers will go on Monday. That obviously allows Rogers to pitch in Oakland, where he’s 25-4 for his career.

Cabrera moves to sixth spot, pitching shift coming

The only immediate change to come out of Leyland’s brainstorming session Thursday was Miguel Cabrera’s move from fifth to sixth in the batting order. Marcus Thames gets the fifth slot as Leyland tries to ride the hot bat, but even if he cools off, that might not move up Cabrera. Inge is catching tonight, but Leyland said that Pudge will catch the day games Saturday and Sunday.

There’s a pitching move coming, but Leyland wouldn’t yet get into what it is. Given Dontrelle Willis’ situation, it might well moving a current starter into a relief role and slotting Willis (who hasn’t pitched since last Friday) back in. Leyland also said they have to start preparing for guys coming back off the DL. That includes Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya, who are set to be sent out on minor-league rehab assignments in the next few days.

TIGERS

  1. Granderson, CF
  2. Polanco, 2B
  3. Guillen, 3B
  4. Ordonez, RF
  5. Thames, LF
  6. Cabrera, 1B
  7. Larish, DH
  8. Renteria, SS
  9. Inge, C

Roster move

With Matt Joyce essentially out of a starting job, the Tigers optioned him back to Toledo so that he can play every day. Clete Thomas will be recalled in time for Friday’s game at Seattle.

Granderson to play against lefties

He’s in the lineup tonight against Joe Saunders, and Jim Leyland says he’s going to play him against all but the really nasty lefties for the near term.

“He’s a catalyst for us,” Leyland said. “We’ve got to get him going.”

Granderson has said several times over the last few years that facing a left-handed pitcher can get him going at the plate once he faces right-handers again, because it forces him to concentrate more and stay on the ball, getting him out of a mode where he might be pulling everything. Leyland openly wonders whether Granderson’s injured hand is hurting, but Granderson says he’s fine.

For this trip, it only looks like one more lefty starter awaits after tonight. The Mariners changed their rotation and pulled lefty Jarrod Washburn for the weekend series. Felix Hernandez will now pitch Saturday, with Miguel Batista going Sunday. Once the Tigers get to Oakland next week, Dave Eveland is on schedule to face them.

The other adjustment is that Marcus Thames will be starting regularly in left for a little while.

“Marcus has earned his shot over the last couple years,” Leyland said. “Let’s see what he can do.”

Leyland talked about DHing Guillen, but he decided in the end to give him the night off coupled with Thursday’s off-day in hopes of getting him well for Seattle.

Here’s the full lineup:

  1. Granderson, CF
  2. Polanco, 2B
  3. Thames, LF
  4. Ordonez, DH
  5. Cabrera, 1B
  6. Rodriguez, C
  7. Renteria, SS
  8. Inge, 3B
  9. Raburn, RF

For the Angels, who will give Vladimir Guerrero the night off:

  1. Reggie Willits, LF
  2. Maicer Izturis, SS
  3. Garret Anderson, DH
  4. Torii Hunter, CF
  5. Gary Matthews Jr., RF
  6. Casey Kotchman, 1B
  7. Mike Napoli, C
  8. Brandon Wood, 3B
  9. Sean Rodriguez, 2B

Bautista rehab update

He did not get through two innings of work as planned. Instead, he lasted 1 1/3 scoreless innings with two walks and three strikeouts. He threw 31 total pitches, 16 of them strikes.

Bautista entered in the seventh and retired the side with one walk. and two strikeouts. He started off the eighth by hitting Jorge Velandia with a pitch, walking Shin-Soo Choo and then giving up a Todd Linden single to load the bases. After retiring Jordan Brown on a called third strike, Bautista was done.

The Tigers have to make a decision now on whether to call him up or have him throw another rehab outing. This outing probably didn’t help his case, but we’ll see.

For the memory bank

Justin Verlander decided to politely decline comment on the record this afternoon after reading Twins leadoff man Carlos Gomez’s quotes about him in Monday’s St. Paul Pioneer Press. If you didn’t see it (it’s still on the pioneerpress.com site), Gomez said he and Alexi Casilla kept faking bunts to agitate him on Sunday. From the article:

Verlander “is great pitcher,” Gomez said, “but his mind is not good.”

That’s why the pair of Domincans kept faking bunts (though each actually did bunt in the third inning, both right back to Verlander for easy outs). “He be (angry) and then he try to throw too hard and then he throw (a) ball,” Gomez said. “He throw many pitches and get (mad) and make a mistake for (Joe) Mauer or (Justin) Morneau. That’s what I told Casilla — ‘Me and you go to work on this guy and (mess) up his mind, and then Justin and Mauer get good opportunities to hit.’ ”

Sure enough, Verlander got angry, and he stared at Gomez when he came to the plate in the fifth inning. Gomez said he relished the confrontation, because it meant Verlander was focused more on him than on his pitching.

” ‘Why you look at me like that? No, no, you no intimidate me,’ ” Gomez described of his reaction, which was to return the right-hander’s glare. “I’m not a player you look at and my head (goes) down. Hell no, I look at you, too.”

Gomez went on to say that he’ll do the same thing the next time they face each other to agitate him, even though Verlander didn’t exactly fall apart from it Sunday.

Verlander looked like he wanted to give a rebuttal Tuesday, but he decided better of it. Needless to say, though, there was some surprise in the Tigers clubhouse that someone with as little time in the Majors as Gomez would make such statements.

Lineups

TIGERS

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

ANGELS

  1. Maicer Izturis, SS
  2. Gary Matthews Jr., DH
  3. Vladimir Guerrero, RF
  4. Garret Anderson, LF
  5. Torii Hunter, CF
  6. Casey Kotchman, 1B
  7. Jeff Mathis, C
  8. Brandon Wood, 3B
  9. Sean Rodriguez, 2B

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