Pitchers 1, hitters 0

No surprise, but pitchers are ahead of hitters at this point in Tigers Spring Training — in many instances, very much so.

In Justin Verlander’s case, his health in these things depends on being ahead of hitters.

Most
pitchers in these live BP sessions are throwing from behind the cage,
protecting them from the risk of a one-hopper back up the middle.
Verlander does not. He isn’t comfortable throwing from behind a screen,
and he wants to simulate game conditions as much as he can when he
takes the mound for these sessions. He says he was knicked by a
comebacker a couple years ago, but it didn’t change his view.

“It wasn’t the first time I’ve been hit by a ball,” Verlander said, “and it won’t be the last time.”

The
way Verlander was throwing Thursday, nobody seemed to be making
contact. He seems to have taken the adjustments pitching coach Rick
Knapp and worked them into his mechanics. The result is some very good
stuff, enough so that Miguel Cabrera and others were marveling.

“Verlander was outstanding,” manager Jim Leyland said. “I think he’s really trying hard.”

He
wasn’t the only one. Ramon Santiago was teasing lefty Kyle Bloom about
a curveball that he dropped on the plate and sent Santiago swinging at
air. Eddie Bonine said he was struggling to locate some of his pitches,
so he ended up throwing some knuckleballs, which wasn’t too fun for
Magglio Ordonez and his hitting group.

Those sessions will continue for the next two days. Tigers hitters get to face Joel Zumaya on Friday and Ryan Perry on Saturday.

Other odds and ends …

  • The
    Tigers were scheduled to do some fundamental work on rundowns Thursday,
    but with rain coming, they decided to scratch that and move up the
    pitching sessions so that they could get it in. They’ll do rundowns
    sometime in the coming days.
  • With Todd Jones back home enjoying
    retirement, Bobby Seay seems to be becoming a bit of a veteran voice in
    the Tigers bullpen. He talked this afternoon about how he felt the
    bullpen might have let up a bit down the stretch, including himself,
    and needs to carry it through.
  • Leyland said he thinks the
    key to Seay will be to find more consistency on his breaking ball and
    hit the outside corner with it against left-handed hitters. Seay said
    he’s also working on an offspeed pitch that he might mix in from time
    to time as an added option. But I think the general consensus is that
    even if LH hitters might sit on the slider and try to take it to the
    opposite field, Seay can get them out if he executes the pitch.
  • Leyland
    said he still believes Joel Zumaya can fill the closer’s role down the
    line. Just not right now, not with how little he has pitched over the
    last two years.
  • Interesting comment from Leyland on
    Fernando Rodney: “His fastball might not be his best pitch, but it’s
    his most important pitch.” He doesn’t mean throwing it more often; he
    means commanding it and maintaining velocity. For what it’s worth,
    fastballs made up a bigger percentage of Rodney’s total pitches last
    year (62.4%) than any other season in his career, according to
    fangraphs.com. His average velocity with it (95.3 mph) was also the
    highest of his career.
  • Leyland will be away from the club on
    Monday to return home to Perrysburg and attend services for his nephew,
    B.J. Miller, who passed away after a battle with cancer.

10 Comments

I’m gaining the impression that there are a lot of guys who are embarrassed by last season, as they should be, and are taking this all very seriously this spring, also as they should be. I like hearing that some of the potential WBC participants are keeping that in perspective vs what needs to be done to get ready for the season. Again, as it should be.
.
One guy who’s had an excellent spring so far is Jason himself. This has been a very enlightening and entertaining series of articles. Good job, buddy.
.
Jason, we’ll be in Florida on Monday morning and have two free days before the games begin. What’s a good time to see some of the workouts?
.
–Rich

Well, not looking forward to this season for 2 reasons:

Leyland, and then wondering what up and coming prospects they’ll be giving up in favor of someone who’s best years are behind him.

I am glad they ‘ve finally got themselves a pitching coach instead of one of the “good ol’ boys” who keeps his job cuz in on that “in crowd” of MLB coaches.

The staff should take a step forward this year.

Long live Miller and Jairgens!!!

dude millers stats in the NATIONAL LEAGUE were awful last year. lets recap:
.
.
.
A Miller
W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV SVO IP H R ER HR HBP BB SO
6 10 5.87 29 20 0 0 0 0 107.1 120 78 70 7 4 56 89
.
so, in a weak national league, he went 6-10 with a 5.87 ERA in 29 games, 107 innings pitched.
.
long live miller indeed, for the marlins.

i guess in short i meant to say something to the effect of ‘get over it’ and/or ‘deal with it’ and/or ‘if you have a time machine and access to dave dombrowski’s mindset when he made the trade for the AL HR leader last year, go back and stop him for such a tremendous loss of a mediocre pitcher who was our #1 or #2 prospect at the time (maybin still lives in the minors)……… time to let go.
.
mike

jusr for perspective, a little, the ONLY tiger starter that had a higher ERA last year was nate robertson with a 6.35 in 28 games started. i’m not going to include willis with his 9.something era cuz he only had 9 games, not enough for stat comparison.
.
kenny came close, but still had more wins and less ERA (by .17 points albeit) than minor.
.
and lets not forget that when talking about the tigers, we are talking about the AMERICAN LEAGUE. not the weaker national league.
.
more comparison? gallaraga started 28 games, posted a 3.73 (by far best on the team) with 13 wins (also best on the team) and 126 strikeouts (verlander had 163 or something)
.

My sympathies to the Leyland Family.

Glad to hear Verlander seems to be going at it. Obviously it is way early, but hopefully he is looking to reverse last year and earn his money this year.

Bobby Seay was the shy guy when he was sitting on the Bullpen bench in Tampa Bay. Glad to see that he is taking an active role of leadership with the Tigers.

I truly think that Edwin Jackson will have a better year than people think in 2009. Over the last two years he has struggled because he is learning to run and effective game on the mound. As an ex-fielder, learning to pitch can be a chore after you have taken balls in the air and ground for so long.

But he is a great athlete, and also a great clubhouse guy. I am hoping he makes the cut and gets a rotation spot. If not, he is also a great tool to have in a Bullpen. He can throw 97+ and when his breaking pitches are on….can be am awesome tool.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

My sympathies also to the Leyland Family, its sad when anyone close to you dies, but especially someone young and before their time.

Regarding Chuck Hernandez I agree people have got to get over that. And while I agree that he needed to go, I don’t think that he was ultimately the only problem on that team. And I don’t even know that it was that he was a bad coach or what he was saying just wasn’t getting through anymore. I am a firm believer that if you going to blame him for last year you have to give him credit for 2006 when they had the best ERA in league???? And frankly it 2007 and 2008 where injury riddled years for this pitching staff.

So just don’t go blasting the guy without ackowledging what he did in 2006.

Rich, the best time to catch the workouts before the games begin is late morning. They go out on the field to stretch around 10am for a half-hour, do some long toss after that, then run through some sort of fundamental drills. The pitching and batting practice usually start between 11:15 and 11:30, if you’re looking to see some live action.

If you look at the ’68 and ’84 championship Tigers teams, you won’t see all that many superstar calliber players on those rosters. They both had an air of confidence and team chemistry that carried throughout the season. They had another common factor also; They didn’t walk opposing batters, especially at the bottom of the order, or in front of great power hitters.
I’m waiting for that kind of team atmosphere to come around again, and not a bunch of ‘supposed-to-be-stars’ who don’t shine when they’re needed! The 2006 team didn’t come close to matching those other two. They played a half season of great baseball, and were losers the second half, barely making the playoffs. Those of us who watched them way back then know what ‘real’ champions are made of.

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