March 15th, 2009

Space Coast Stadium — Definitely worth the trip

shuttle.jpgNormally, I leave the postgame blog to reacting to what happened on the field. However, I was able to finish up the stories with enough time to get to Indian Harbor Beach and watch the Space Shuttle launch. Absolutely amazing. To be close enough to watch it gain altitude is cool enough, but the change of colors with the sunset is incredible. You don’t get many chances to be like a tourist when you’re working Spring Training every day, but this was so worth it. I’ll post a photo album when I have a chance.

As for the game, the work of the pitching staff was obviously a huge story. But I didn’t want to overlook the at-bat that Wilkin Ramirez had to drive in the go-ahead runs. With the bases loaded and one out, he got a steady diet of breaking balls from Nationals right-hander Steven Shell in hopes of getting the strikeout, understandably given Ramirez’s history against movement. Ramirez checked his way behind in the count, but fouled off three two-strike sliders to string along the at-bat. Finally, Shell left one up enough for him to line through the left side and plate two runs.

“You’re talking about eight breaking balls in a row,” manager Jim Leyland said. “So if he was ever going to hit one, that was it.”

I’ve mentioned it more than a few times this camp: Ramirez is a spectacular athlete. Baseball has plenty of tremendous athletes who have problems making contact between bat and ball, reminding us why it’s so hard to do. Moments like this give you encouragement that Ramirez can make the leap. Brent Clevlen had a similar quality at-bat earlier to lace an opposite-field liner for a single, also with two strikes, so his camp contact continues.

Other notes …

  • Got the pitching rotation for the next week, and indeed, Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson will pitch in separate games. However, they’ll pitch on the same day. Robertson will pitch in a camp game Thursday afternoon at 12:30 p.m. at Joker Marchant Stadium. Willis will follow Jeremy Bonderman in the Thursday night game against the Braves at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex.
  • With plenty of other pitchers needing innings, the Tigers decided to simply let Rick Porcello pitch his next turn in the rotation, which comes up Friday against the Nationals in Lakeland.
  • Look for a few roster moves tomorrow, none of them major according to Leyland.

Leyland: Zumaya doubtful for Opening Day

The news on the injury front was pretty good today. It’s believed Jeremy Bonderman felt fine this morning after his camp game outing Saturday. Rick Porcello would not have been available today after all, but they’re written him in for his next turn on Friday. Marcus Thames is improving.

Then there’s Joel Zumaya.

No, there’s no additional setback on Zumaya. In fact, the Tigers put him on a medication pack that they hope will relax the muscle cramp between his shoulder and neck after a couple of days.

The issue now, according to Leyland, is the timetable for getting him ready for the season once he’s cleared to throw.

I doubt very much whether he’s going to be ready for Opening Day unless something happens in a hurry,” manager Jim Leyland said. “That’s just the way it is. I only say that because he really hasn’t pitched for two years. If he had been pitching the last two years and then had a little setback like this, he might be able to get himself ready. But when a guy hasn’t pitched for that long, let me put it this way: It’s in the gray area now, unless something happens.”

There’s your news. The Twitter page is going at http://twitter.com/beckjason.

TIGERS

  1. Santiago, 2B
  2. Thomas, DH
  3. Larish, 3B
  4. Kelly, 1B
  5. Raburn, RF
  6. Clevlen, CF
  7. Ramirez, LF
  8. Treanor, C
  9. Everett, SS

PITCHING: Alfredo Figaro (remember, no Porcello today), Fernando Rodney, Juan Rincon, Scott Williamson, Zach Simons and Fu-Te Ni

NATIONALS

  1. Lastings Milledge, CF
  2. Cristian Guzman, SS
  3. Ryan Zimmerman, DH
  4. Nick Johnson, 1B
  5. Josh Willingham, LF
  6. Ronnie Belliard, 3B
  7. Javier Valentin, C
  8. Ryan Langerhans, RF
  9. Anderson Hernandez, 2B

PITCHING: Collin Balester, Gustavo Chacin, Wilfredo Ledezma, Garrett Mock, Steven Shell

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