January 6th, 2009

Tigers bring back Alexis Gomez

gomez.jpgThe Tigers agreed to terms on a Minor League contract with Alexis Gomez, according to an industry source, bringing the 30-year-old outfielder back where he was a postseason hero. Gomez will join the Tigers in Spring Training and provide insurance at Triple-A Toledo as a left-handed bat. The Denver Post first reported the agreement.

Now 30 years old, Gomez last played in the big leagues in 2006 in Detroit, where he became part of the lore of the Tigers’ surprising World Series run. Playing in his first career postseason game, he had a two-run homer and four RBIs in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series at Oakland. Gomez went 4-for-9 in three games of the four-game ALCS sweep, helping make up for the left-handed bat lost when injured Sean Casey missed the series.

The short-term glory didn’t translate into a Major League role. Gomez signed with Colorado that winter and spent the 2007 season at Triple-A Colorado Springs before joining the Marlins organization last year at Triple-A Albuquerque. He batted .234 with five doubles, four home runs and 12 RBIs in 23 games for the Isotopes, covering 73 at-bats.

Leyland on Tiger Talk

Hope everyone had a good holiday season while I was on break. It’s funny how the holidays can go by pretty quick when Detroit’s winter seems to drag on.

Anyway, Jim Leyland was on the Tiger Talk show on WXYT Monday night, where Dan Dickerson and Pat Caputo asked him about the bullpen. When asked about the importance of having a set closer going into spring training, Leyland was uncertain they’d have that.

“I don’t know that that’s going to happen. I don’t know that we can say that. I think [Fernando] Rodney, if I was going to assess him and give my own opinion, I think he has the potential to do it, but from what I’ve seen in the past, he’s probably a very good part-time closer. In other words, there’s some nights when he takes unhittable stuff out there with good control. There are some other nights when the control is not good enough. So I would say he’s a very good part-time closer, but probably not a real perfect closer at this particular time — consistent enough, maybe, is the right word.

“But I’m looking forward to Rodney this year because, whether people believe this or not, Rodney’s a free agent and I think he’s going to do everything he can. He knows this is a big year for him. So we should be able to get quite a bit out of Rodney this year. But to say that he’s going to be our definite closer, I couldn’t say that at this time.”

Leyland also reiterated his stance that he wants to get a look at the young relievers in camp, such as Ryan Perry and Cody Satterwhite, and try to learn from observing them. “I’m going to look at them,” Leyland said. “I’m going to keep an open mind.”

Asked about the moves so far, he said, “I think Dave did exactly what he thought he was going to have to do. I think he said he was going to have to be creative. I think he’s done that. I think he’s done a good job. We’re still in the mix for a couple things that would solidify our club even a little bit more. Exactly what that’s going to be, I don’t know. But I think Dave’s done a good job.”

On another relief note, head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said Monday that Joel Zumaya could start a throwing program in Lakeland within a week. What does that mean for Zumaya’s chances for starting the season three months from today? We’ll find out, but barring a setback, it should be somewhat encouraging.