Bullpen move + Zumaya = upbeat Leyland
Jim Leyland wasn’t saying a whole lot about his bullpen plans when he talked with reporters Thursday at a charity dinner in suburban Toledo, but he did sound optimistic that he was going to get more help in the form of a move or two coming up, plus hopefully a healthy Joel Zumaya.
“We’re still working hard,” Leyland said. “We’re not done yet. We’re still trying to put our team together. Hopefully that could involve maybe a couple more people, but we don’t know. We have nothing done, but we think there’s some encouraging signs.”
“Up to this point, we’ve done as much as we could. I think Dave has been pretty creative so far, which he said he was going to have to be this year. And I don’t think we’re done yet. Will we get something done? I don’t know. But is it possible? I definitely think it is.”
“We had a lot of money to play with, but we already played with it. And I think everybody knows it. So we weren’t going to be in the hunt for a lot of the big names that were out there and everything. And there’s still some guys that we might have some interest in at hopefully a little better of a bargain.”
Leyland sounded particularly upbeat about Zumaya, enough so that he said the Tigers’ bullpen plans will depend in large part on how he fares this spring in his comeback from the stress fracture in his shoulder.
“That will change the whole bullpen, probably,” Leyland said. “Zumaya’s health will be a significant factor in the bullpen. You might almost need two guys to replace Zumaya. He could be that good for us. He was that good in 2006. If we can get in that scenario again, we’ll be pretty good.”
Asked how Zumaya’s progress is going, Leyland said:
“Typical Zumaya, he was throwing bullets from 90 feet the other day already in Lakeland. It’s a process, but it’s way too early to know what he’s going to look like when he has to get a hitter out, max effort and stuff like that. Right now, he looks good. We’re thinking that he made a lot of progress. But it’s still a wait and see.”
Other quotes from Leyland …
On Bonderman’s rehab: “Tremendous. He looks stronger and better than ever.”
On Dontrelle Willis: “Very good. Outstanding. Better than they saw him at any point last year. But once again, he’s not facing hitters. I’m just going to lay low on that. I don’t want to put expectations or be talking about that kind of stuff every day, because I just think it makes it worse.”
On the competition for the final spot in the rotation: “We obviously need a fifth starter, and I’m going to let that play itself out. I’m not going to comment on it every day. I’m not going to get excited if somebody looks good for three innings one day and somebody looks bad for three. I’m going to sit back. I’m going to play it calm. I’m going to see how things develop. And at the end of Spring Training, we’ll come out there with the best possible team we can.”