May 2008

Lineups

By popular demand, the Tigers’ left-handed lineup, complete with Inge in CF …

TIGERS

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

Leyland said he was writing down that lineup today when it occurred to him that he has a 36-year-old catcher leading off. He meant that more as a compliment to Pudge.

MARINERS

  1. Ichiro, CF (Do you really need to put his last name in there?)
  2. Adrian Beltre, 3B
  3. Jose Lopez, 2B
  4. Raul Ibanez, LF
  5. Jose Vidro, DH
  6. Richie Sexson, 1B
  7. Wladimir Balentien, RF
  8. Jamie Burke, C
  9. Yuniesky Betancourt, SS

Dontrelle to bullpen for now

Tigers just announced that they’ll activate Dontrelle Willis today or tomorrow, but that he’ll work out of the bullpen for now. Armando Galarraga will remain in the rotation.

The main reason, Leyland suggested, was to try to get Willis right. He’ll pick his spots on using Willis to get him some innings.

“We just want to keep him working and get some fine-tuning in,” Leyland said.

Grilli's response

Our Rockies reporter, Thomas Harding, told Jason Grilli about Leyland’s remarks. This was Grilli’s response:

“I think I was mis-noted or misaligned, or what I said was taken out of context. And to get comments from Leyland thinking that I was bashing the Tigers is not what I was saying. It’s pretty interesting because I try to stay fair and objective in my statements. I’m very cautious in what I say. I’m not the GM. I’m not the manager. I don’t know everything. All I was simply saying was I was asked to make a comment about where the Tigers were. I was there for the whole experience, from the end of ’05 to when I got traded over here. All I was doing was making a comparison of what I’ve seen and what I’ve been through. All I was basically saying was the balance and the camaraderie and stuff that I saw in ’06 slowly faded out. That’s all I said. That’s basically in a nutshell summarizing it. That’s basically all I said. I wasn’t throwing anybody under the bus. I love everybody over there. I’ve never had a problem or an issue with any teammate or any coaching staff over there. I’m not here to start a verbal war in the paper just because I’m with a different team, the grass-is-greener-over-here type of thing.”

Highlights from Leyland's rant

Suffice it to say, Leyland read Bob Nightengale’s piece on the Tigers from USA Today this morning, and while he didn’t have a problem with the messenger, he had a problem with some of the players quoted. Here’s some of what he said this afternoon, with the f-bombs removed:

On Grilli, who called the clubhouse “stale and stagnant”:
“I find that hard to believe that that has anything to do with somebody not getting a run in. I mean, would I like this to be a little more close-knit? Yes. Do I buy a lot of people when they start talking about that, and some of it comes from players, I think they ought to look at themselves in the mirror. I think it’s diversionary tactics, and I really take offense to Jason Grilli’s thing about not having Sean Casey. You have to be kidding me. I mean, please. Jason Grilli ought to just worry about Colorado. Jason Grilli’s not here any longer because Jason Grilli didn’t pitch good under pressure situations and didn’t pitch very well in Detroit. You want to tell it like it is? When players want to start talking, I’ll start talking. But I’m very reserved about stuff like that. Jason Grilli ought to worry about Colorado, not Detroit.

“Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. I miss Sean Casey. But Sean Casey doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that the Tigers are where we’re at. Now let’s get that straight right now. And people want to start talking about things and this and that, what this guy’s doing, what that guy’s doing, they should look in the mirror. They should look right in that mirror, look at themselves and see what they’re doing. And what some of these guys are doing on this club, the last thing they should be doing is popping off in the newspaper. They’re diversionary tactics and they look foolish. You can quote every bit of that. There’s nothing wrong with inside the clubhouse. The problem here is in between the lines. That’s where the problem is. But everybody looks for an excuse, and to me, that’s a weak excuse. Look in the mirror. Are you knocking in runs? Are you getting hits? Are you doing your share? And if you don’t like what’s going on in the clubhouse and you’re a player, then say something about it. Put a name to it. Stick your chest out and put a name to it.”

The other issue he had was with Carlos Guillen. Here’s what Guillen said in the story:

“We never said we were going to win 100 games. All we said was that we have a good team with good
players. That was the (sports) media and fans doing the talking. You don’t win games looking good on paper. You’ve got to do it on the field. That wasn’t fair to us.”

Here’s Leyland’s response:

“It isn’t fair all of a sudden for people to have expectations? Well, why wasn’t it fair? What are you talking about, it wasn’t fair? You’re supposed to love the expectations. You’re saying it wasn’t fair to have expectations? What are you talking about? I’m a grown man. I can take my heat, and I deserve some for the performance of this club. But you better be careful when you’re a player. If you’re hitting .200 and .220 and striking out or hitting .200 and .215, you shouldn’t be popping off, in my opinion, about other situations. You ought to be taking care of your own business. If they want to play games, I’ll play games, and it won’t be long [before] I’ll put names to it, if they want me to. I’m not quite to that point yet. They want to play games, I’ll play games. I’ll quit protecting some of these guys night after night after night after night. And I’ll put some names to it.”

Overall, though, Leyland’s problem was with current players going off in the press:

“If players want to play games in the press, I’ll play games in the press. And it won’t be very pretty. That’s all bullshit. That doesn’t have anything to do with a guy hanging a slider or missing a fastball right down the [middle], throwing the ball away. That has nothing to do with it. That’s a weak excuse. That’s a lame excuse.”

Out of the frying pan …

EggPan.jpgIt’s a cloudless day in Phoenix, and the roof is closed. It’s that hot — mid-90s already and headed above 100. So they’re playing indoor baseball today. But hey, it’s a dry heat, right?

After looking at Gary Sheffield’s stats against Randy Johnson (6-for-39, 1 HR, 7 BB, 10 K’s), Jim Leyland thought better of starting him today. He’ll have had three days off by the time the Tigers are back in action Tuesday against Seattle, but Leyland plans on DHing him all three games there. Granderson’s off, too. This is not the lefty the Tigers want him to try to hit, especially the way he’s been going the last couple weeks.

The other interesting thing is Renteria batting third. He hasn’t done that at all this season, but he did a little of that the previous couple seasons in Atlanta. Interestingly, he’s hit in all nine lineup spots in his career, though his 21 plate appearances in the nine spot came as a pinch-hitter.

So it’s:

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

For Arizona:

  1. Chris Young, CF
  2. Stephen Drew, SS
  3. Justin Upton, RF
  4. Conor Jackson, 1B
  5. Eric Byrnes, LF
  6. Mark Reynolds, 3B
  7. Chris Burke, 2B
  8. Miguel Montero, C
  9. Randy Johnson, P

Wrapping up postgame issues

Pudge said he decided to let the ball drop after he didn’t see Orlando Hudson running down the first-base line. Had he seen Hudson pass him, he said, he would’ve caught the ball. Both Leyland and Rodriguez said it was a risk, partly because it was somewhat close to foul territory and they could’ve given away an out, but it was a heady play.

The socks-up look was apparently Edgar Renteria’s idea. He went around to players and suggested that they do it, according to a couple different players.

You probably know this by now, but that’s their first win this season when scoring less than five runs in a game. Last time was last Sept. 15 in a 4-3 win at Minnesota over Johan Santana and the Twins.

Leyland: We're not pounding the ball

Not that it’s a news flash or anything, but after so much was made of the errors Friday night, Jim Leyland wanted to make a point that a few more runs would’ve made a miscue like that pretty well meaningless.

“We’re supposed to pound the ball around, and we haven’t done it,” Leyland said.

And as the record shows, they have to hit, since they’re now 0-23 when they don’t score at least five runs.

The lineup has just one change, with Ryan Raburn giving Placido Polanco a day off. In the spirit of getting a power hitter up there and stacking some left-handed hitters, Matt Joyce will hit in the second spot.

The full order:

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

For Arizona:

  1. Chris Young, CF
  2. Stephen Drew, SS
  3. Orlando Hudson, 2B
  4. Conor Jackson, 1B
  5. Justin Upton, RF
  6. Eric Byrnes, LF Mark Reynolds, 3B
  7. Mark Reynolds, 3B Jeff Salazar, LF (Byrnes scratched)
  8. Chris Snyder, C
  9. Max Scherzer, P

Renteria on foul ball

“I have to call for that,” Renteria said, “because I think I have the better angle. It was my fault, because I should have called for that ball.”

Guillen said he heard something, but he didn’t know if it was Renteria or not.

Leyland called it a fundamental play. “As soon as somebody told me it wasn’t called, I had flashbacks to Tigertown and the pop-up drill. Call three times: ‘I got it. I got it. I got it.’ That’s what we worked on. Now if somebody would’ve called it and dropped it, that’s part of the game. But the fact that we didn’t call it, somebody didn’t take charge and call it, that’s not acceptable.”

From the Valley of the Sun

The talk is that the roof will be open tonight because of postgame fireworks, as opposed to any in-game fireworks. I don’t know this place well enough to know what effect that should have. In fact, I’ve never been here before. The way Bonderman works, though, I doubt it should have much effect. If he’s on, he’ll be good. If he’s not, there won’t be much to keep the ball in the park.

As far as the lineup, you might remember Jim Leyland saying he was going to start Gary Sheffield in LF once this series. That is tonight, and he might end up starting on Sunday, too. His shoulder still isn’t feeling that well for a strong throw, but they’re going to take their chances. The reasoning has more to do with Dan Haren, whose effectiveness against left-handed hitters convinced Leyland that this wasn’t the game to start Matt Joyce in left.

The full Tigers lineup:

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

And for the Diamondbacks:

  1. Chris Young, CF
  2. Stephen Drew, SS
  3. Orlando Hudson, 2B
  4. Conor Jackson, 1B
  5. Justin Upton, RF
  6. Chris Snyder, C
  7. Eric Byrnes, LF
  8. Augie Ojeda, 3B
  9. Dan Haren, P

Stolen base off Rogers

Gathright’s Pena’s stolen base in the third was not only the first steal off of Rogers since 2006, but the first stolen base attempt against him in two years. Coco Crisp stole second off of Rogers with Vance Wilson behind the plate on June 2, 2006. Jason Phillips and Gregg Zaun were the last to try to steal on Rogers on Sept. 28 of that season, both trying for third on two separate double-steal plays.

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