Sunday roundup: Zumaya looks good

The second day of spring training workouts was the first round of formal bullpen sessions for another group of Tigers pitchers. Among them was the much-anticipated Joel Zumaya, who by all accounts looked good as he fired away with one pitch after another.

“Right now, he looks great,” manager Jim Leyland said. “Keep your fingers crossed.”

Leyland is trying not to make too much of early throwing sessions. And to be fair, it’s the fifth session off of a mound for Zumaya, who has been in Lakeland for more than a month. Still, Leyland was pointed in how positive he felt about Zumaya putting on some weight again after reporting noticeably lighter to last year’s camp.

“He’s not used to being a skinny guy,” Leyland said. “He looked like how Joel Zumaya’s supposed to look, to me.”

Zumaya was part of a trio of hard throwers working next to each other. Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson filled out the group. All of them looked impressive, and you could tell Verlander had some intensity going as he fired pitches.

Sunday was also the first throwing session for Fu-Te Ni, who was pitching to French Canadian Max St. Pierre. After the session, St. Pierre was trying to express some pointers to Ni through his translator. Eventually, St. Pierre resorted to trying to demonstrate it, squatting and putting his hands on the ground to make the point to throw a certain pitch lower.

Macay McBride also looked good. He pitched only one regular-season inning last year before undergoing Tommy John surgery, but he looks healthy now.

Other notes …

  • Leyland threw out much of any chance the Tigers will have more than one closer when the season begins. “I think we’ll have a closer,” he said, “and I think we’ll have one or two guys capable of closing a game.” Presumably, that one or two depends on Zumaya’s status.
  • Leyland compared Armando Galarraga to former Tigers starter Dave Rozema as an example of a guy who comes out of nowhere to have a stellar season. Rozema won 15 games as a rookie in 1977. Unfortunately, Rozema never won double-digit games in a season again. Leyland doesn’t think that’ll happen to Galarraga, but he also doesn’t want Galarraga to put pressure on himself to win a bunch more games and eclipse last year. Look for more on Galarraga on the site later today.
  • Expect Leyland to have a word with Fernando Rodney about his alligator tooth necklace, just to make sure he doesn’t try to wear it in a game. “As everybody knows,” Leyland said, “he has been and will be one of my favorites since I’ve been here. … I think he does some stuff just to mess with me.”
  • Brandon Inge reported to camp Sunday morning, after pitchers and catchers had gone out to the field, and had a confused look on his face when he saw former Tiger Chris Shelton’s nametag on what used to be Inge’s locker. “Where am I at,” he asked aloud. Actually, it’s still Inge’s locker, but it’s an old nametag placed over his. Inge’s next task will be to try to figure out who pulled the trick. For the record, Shelton is in camp with the Mariners this spring.
  • The only Tiger not expected to be fully ready when full-squad workouts begin Tuesday is outfielder Clete Thomas, who can do everything but throw. Thomas underwent Tommy John surgery late last season, and he isn’t expected to be throwing until closer to the end of spring training. He’s one of the candidates for a backup outfield job, and his ability to back up Curtis Granderson as the center fielder is an advantage in his favor — if he’s healthy.
  • A report in the Lakeland Ledger a few days ago said Polk County, which includes Lakeland, is seeing widespread cases of the flu and flu-like symptoms.

16 Comments

The only thing worse than “closer by committee” is “closer by Rodney”. There is no reason in the world to put any more pressure than necessary on F Rod’s fragile mindset. Let Lyon close, and he should at least be able to duplicate the Coaster’s 85% save pct.

DD has again put all his eggs in the basket of relying on both Rodney and Zoomer to be both healthy and effective.
Rodney + Zumaya, + Seay + Miner in 2007, 2008, and 2009
Lyon = Jones
Bloom = Cruceta = Campusano
Rincon = Bautista = Jose Mesa
Williamson = Mantei = Joey Eischen

Lyon is the only legit major league reliever to be added in three years.

Thanks for the regular updates, Jason, they’re much appreciated.
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On the subject of trading starting pitching away, I vote for extreme caution. It’s possible that we could break camp with seven capable big-league starters, which would clearly be a roster issue. With a trade, a sub-par performance and an injury, though, we could be scrambling to find a fifth starter. The Red Sox learned this lesson a couple of years ago, when they traded Arroyo to the Reds right before a rash of injuries struck.
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Anyway, keep the updates coming, Jason. I’m still cautiously optimistic. Let’s get those games started!
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matt

I do enjoy the anecdotes, such as Rodney singing and the prank on Inge. I have to ask, Jason, what does Rodney sing and how well does he do it? Does he have the juice? As far as Inge asking “where am I at?”, that’s a normal question coming on the heels of his 2008 season. :-)
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The comments from Antisox and Matt kind of go together, regarding the bullpen. DD did pick up Edwin Jackson, which left three pitchers vying for one rotation spot. The two who become non-starters can help the bullpen, although I’d think Willis less than Miner and Robertson. So, if I traded a starter next month, I’d certainly want some kind of proven relief pitcher in return.
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–Rich

Rodney sings Dominican songs — not like Jose Lima sings, but in a deep, bellowing voice so that he’s heard all over the clubhouse. His teammates laugh about it, as does his roommate Freddy Dolsi.

You know what, I initially missed the double meaning on Inge. Thanks for pointing that out. That’s pretty good.

Hey all,
Just logged in to say hello, and to say how excited I am that spring is right around the corner. I love the fact that the blog is picking back up. I don’t post much, but read everything. After a long hard winter, this is just what I need. I have chosen to be cautiously optimistic with this year. It looks as if we have made improvements that we needed to make, but time will tell!! Does anyone know where Pudge is or if any team has shown interest in him? I really would hate to see him just fade away. Once again keep the posts comin’, it gives me some good reading. GO TIGERS 2009 IS HERE! -Stacy

Probably two out of Nate, Willis, and Miner will wind up in the pen. When you include Lyon, Rodney, Zoomer, Seay, and two of those three, there’s only one spot left. Just because they wind up in the pen doesn’t mean they’ll “help” the pen. Ideally, both Nate and Willis rebound and JL has a tough decision to make. Neither Nate nor Willis could get the contracts they now have if they were free agents, so I can’t see getting anything in return for them, and I’m not sure that DD would be able to spend the savings if they cleared payroll, either. There should be interesting competitions for the last spot in the pen and the last spot on the roster. Raburn, Clevlen, Larish and Hessman are up for the last spot, with only Larish able to be sent down without waivers.

Does anybody have any idea why Juan Cruz was never pursued by the Tigers? The guy can throw. I understand he is a little wild but his results are generally pretty good.
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My guess is that he is regarded as being expensive and the class A designation requires giving up a draft pick.

I saw on MLB tv that Pudge is talking to the Astros, Marlins and Mets.

That would also be my take, Dan, on the Cruz situation. He’s just sitting out there with that class A designation hanging like an albatross around his neck. I think he would have been signed somewhere months ago without the draft pick thing. Times have changed, and now a team can draft a pitcher out of college and possibly have him major league ready by the following season. I think MLB needs to re-address the free agent classifications system.
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I see Leyland is still in two minds over Miner being a starter or reliever. Understandable. The idea of a sinkerballer coming into a situation and getting a DP makes sense. If he was a starter, however, he could get out of his own messes. With this improved infield, a leadoff single can be quickly turned into a DP and the rally is snuffed before it can get started. My money says Miner begins the year in the pen, only because it’s the easiest way to solve the rotation logjam. What I’d prefer to see is him in the rotation, because I think he can win 15 games over the course of a season.
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Meanwhile, Robertson’s incredibly consistent history of pitching great in innings 1-3 then blowing up in the 4th would seem to make him a perfect candidate for the bullpen. He’d have to buy into the role, though.
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While Rodney has the gator tooth necklace, Willis should have one sporting a solid gold question mark. I don’t think anyone has a clue how he’ll do.
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It will be an interesting spring, much more so than last year’s.
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–Rich

Great story about Lakeland. I think Inge’s performance is going to be very important to the Tigers success this year, not only at third but also at the plate. I’m a little worried about the bottom of the order running right out of a rally every night. If Inge can cut down on strikeouts and hit at least .250 with some pop I would be happy.
On a sidenote I browsed through a couple of baseball magazines at the bookstore today and both picked the Tigers last in the Central with the Twins winning the division. I like that expectations are lower this year and I think the team is going to surprise some people once the season starts.

I think we all would have liked one more piece of insurance for the bullpen but even without spending much on acquisitions (approx $6m), our starting payroll is a touch over $131m.
Robertson & Willis will set them back $18m this year and a further $21m for 2010 so they have no choice but to try and get some return without doing a Lugo on us. I can’t see how Willis would achieve in the pen so just hope he is back on song. Dolsi, McBride, Rapada, Lambert, Simons and Bloom will fight for the one position with Porcello hopefully allowed to continue to develop his full range before coming up.
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I would be interested Jason if there is any hint of Sheff getting some OF time during Spring training. I don’t think his decline with the Tigers is just due to age and injuries. He seems to struggle maintaining his spark playing from the dugout. I recall he could play LF or RF and would think it ideal that he platoons DH with our fragile Guillen and Maggs. As Dan aptly describes his tippy toe moves, Maggs at 35 will always protect his knee from further injury and seems destined to finish the last 2 years of his contract as DH.

Hi everyone—Rich———-what is the word with Cordero? Still wouldn’t mind seeing him end up here eventually.
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I don’t see them keeping Bloom. Why tie up a roster spot when you have guys you could be taking a longer look at guys like Fien (who may be ready for the show), Darrow and Perry or Satterwhite.
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If they let Bloom go they lose $12,500. I’m pretty sure Illitch can afford that.
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That being said–Johann Santana was a Rule 5 pick too!

Thanks for all the great spring training updates Jason – I look forward to hearing a lot over the next month of who is developing and where things stand. I also love hearing the quirks and fun things about the players, stuff fans don’t typically get to hear about.

More about Cruz and other free agents still hanging out there. There seems to be a move to sign and trade. Cruz would re-sign with Arizona and they would trade him to avoid the loss of a draft pick by the new team. The article on mlb.com thinks the Twins are after him. (groan)

Well fellow Detroit Fans, I wouldn’t allow your skirts to get blown up over these Zumaya’s typical over confident PREseason comments; I’ve always said that, although I love the dude…. he’s an injury waiting to happen. I’ll be very surprised(and hope I’m proven wrong) if he ever lasts an entire season. Way too unorthodox delivery for that much stress on that extremity to last long. The best thing he can do for staying off the injured list, is actually learn how to pitch.

He would do well to sit out 09(and yea, like THATS gonna happen), and just watch film after film of Greg Maddox.

Leyland isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed….

Anxious to see Bonderman throw again!

Verlander?? Needs to settle in THIS year as a true professional player and quit pitching like he’s in high school!!. He should know by now that MLB players aren’t AT ALL intimidated by a 97mph flat fastball. And hey memo to Justin, quit acting like Timberlake and QUIT swishing that stupid foot of yours back and forth across the rubber. Settle in dude, or get off my mound!!!

Let the kid catch 100 games this year.

Galaraga should pitch opening day cuz he’s the only one on this staff that has a pro approach to the game.

Cabrera might hit 50 jacks this year.

Leyland, DO NOT allow the fans to have to endure yet another season of pop ups and double play balls in between an occasional meaningless homer by Sheffield.

I’m all for a rotation of Bonderman, Galaraga, Minor and Dolsi. Yep, just 4, like in the good ol’ days, when men were men!!!!

Oh… and maybe they could trade 1/2 the team and get Jairgens and Miller back!?!?!?! two(2) trades that will inevitably haunt this organization for years to come.

Can I NOW be the GM????

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