April 2009

Another night, another rarity

Curtis Granderson’s ninth-inning home run made him just the second Tiger ever to homer off Yankees closer Mariano Rivera. Bobby Higginson was the other, hitting him for a game-tying shot in the ninth inning on July 6, 1999 at Tiger Stadium. It was one of just two home runs Rivera allowed all season.

Granderson’s at-bat against Rivera was the 167th for the Tigers against him in his career, and just their 24th hit.

Guillen back at DH

Manager Jim Leyland said he hopes to get Carlos Guillen back in left field for Friday’s series opener against Cleveland, but it sounds very much like a wait-and-see scenario in which they’re hoping his Achilles feels a little better this weekend. He was noticeably hobbled simply running the bases Tuesday. The sooner he can get back in the field, the better as far as Guillen goes, because he’ll get more into the flow of the game. But it won’t be easy.


  1. Granderson, CF
  2. Polanco, 2B
  3. Ordonez, RF
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Guillen, DH
  6. Laird, C
  7. Inge, 3B
  8. Anderson, LF
  9. Santiago, SS

P: Porcello


  1. Jeter, SS
  2. Damon, LF
  3. Teixeira, 1B
  4. Matsui, DH
  5. Cano, 2B
  6. Posada, C
  7. Swisher, RF
  8. Cabrera, CF
  9. Pena, 3B

P: Chamberlain

History, my friends

According to Elias Sports Bureau, tonight was just the second time in Major League history that a scoreless game was broken up by a double-digit inning in the seventh or later. Cincinnati put up a 10-run 13th inning for a 10-0 win at Brooklyn on May 15, 1919.

Rapada up, Larish down

The Tigers will go with a 13-man pitching staff for now. They recalled left-hander Clay Rapada from Triple-A Toledo today and sent utilityman Jeff Larish back to the Mud Hens.

There are two ways to look at this. First, the Tigers were likely going to need another lefty reliever after Bobby Seay worked three straight days. The other is that they really didn’t have much playing time for Larish, who had just 17 at-bats this season. Carlos Guillen’s limitations to DH recently because of his sore right Achilles tendon, plus Josh Anderson’s emergence in left field, worked against Larish.

Willis to Toledo for next start

The Tigers transferred Dontrelle Willis’ rehab assignment to Toledo Monday, setting him up to start for the Mud Hens on Friday at Lehigh Valley.

Willis last pitched Sunday for Double-A Erie, where he gave up two runs on three hits in six innings Sunday with three walks and six strikeouts. Before that, he pitched seven innings for Class A Lakeland last Tuesday to start off his rehab assignment.

It’ll mark Willis’ third start with the Mud Hens in his two seasons with the Tigers. He made three starts there during a rehab assignment last May while on the disabled list with a hyperextended right knee, then came back to the Mud Hens in August during his summer stint in the Minors before rejoining the Tigers that September.

As of now, it isn’t clear yet how long Willis’ stint with the Hens might be. The Tigers can run his rehab assignment for up to 30 days, which would take him to May 20, but his workload has already stretched him out in terms of pitch counts.

This is April in the D, right?

The weather is summerlike here in Detroit, though the storms are expected to arrive late tonight. Though the temperatures will cool off once the storm front passes through, they still won’t be too terribly bad. The coolest forecast temperatures are for Tuesday, with a high of 58 and a low of 43. It appears, at least, that the last remnants of winter weather are gone, just in time for the Tigers to return home.

In that sense, the April schedule seems to have done the Tigers a favor. Not many worries about cold weather aside from the White Sox series a couple weeks back. Correspondingly or not, no talk about the impact the weather might’ve had on Tiger bats.

“I think the fact that we’ve gotten to play, haven’t had to sit around, I don’t know if it helped us, but I think it’s a good thing,” manager Jim Leyland said.

Tigers players said something similar, but Placido Polanco cautioned that it shouldn’t be an excuse.

However, the weather has not helped Carlos Guillen and his sore Achilles tendon. He’s DHing again, and so far, he said it hasn’t gotten any better. It doesn’t seem to have a DL risk unless it gets a lot worse, but at this rate, it seems to be something he’ll be dealing with for a good while.


  1. Granderson, CF
  2. Polanco, 2B
  3. Ordonez, RF
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Guillen, DH
  6. Laird, C
  7. Inge, 3B
  8. Raburn, LF
  9. Everett, SS

Sheff's 500-homer gift

sheffphoto.jpg This is the gift that Tigers vice president/baseball legal counsel John
Westhoff presented to Gary Sheffield last week to honor his 500th
career home run. The team had prepared it when Sheffield was still with
the Tigers and ended last season with 499, but Sheff’s release
obviously changed those plans. Westhoff traveled to New York to make the presentation to Sheffield at Citi Field.

Dontrelle rehab update

Back home for the Yankees series Monday after Robert Falkoff covered for me in KC, but I wanted to post an update on Dontrelle Willis and his rehab outing Sunday. He allowed two earned runs on three hits in six innings with three walks and six strikeouts, earning the victory in Erie’s 8-4 win over Harrisburg.

Willis threw 56 of his 92 pitches for strikes, but that’s actually a little deceptive, since there was a definite split in his outing. He was perfect through four innings, using just 43 pitches in the process, before a solo homer and back-to-back doubles led to a 31-pitch fifth inning (19 of those 31 pitches were balls). He reportedly threw first-pitch strikes to 13 of the 23 batters he faced.

Not sure how accurate the radar gun is at Jerry Uht Park, but Willis’ fastball supposedly ranged from 86-90 mph on the stadium readings. However, his breaking ball was supposedly pretty good.

As of now, it seems likely that Willis will make another rehab start, even though he’s stretched out from a pitch-count standpoint. UPDATE: Indications are that his next outing will be for Triple-A Toledo next weekend at Allentown, probably Friday.

Thursday: Tigers at Angels

Carlos Guillen’s Achillies tendon was getting sore on him after the first couple games, so Jim Leyland is giving him a day at DH. Leyland wants Gerald Laird playing on Friday and Saturday, so with Laird’s ankle a bit sore, Leyland rested him tonight and gave Matt Treanor a shot.


  1. Curtis Granderson, CF
  2. Placido Polanco, 2B
  3. Magglio Ordonez, RF
  4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  5. Carlos Guillen, DH
  6. Brandon Inge, 3B
  7. Josh Anderson, LF
  8. Matt Treanor, C
  9. Adam Everett, SS

P: Edwin Jackson


  1. Chone Figgins, 3B
  2. Maicer Izturis, SS
  3. Bobby Abreu, RF
  4. Torii Hunter, DH (wasn’t feeling well today, stomach bug)
  5. Kendry Morales, 1B
  6. Juan Rivera, LF
  7. Gary Matthews Jr., CF
  8. Howie Kendrick, 2B
  9. Jeff Mathis, C

P: Matt Palmer

Zumaya to rejoin Tigers this weekend

Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Thursday afternoon that reliever Joel Zumaya will rejoin the club this weekend at Kansas City, indicating he’ll be activated and back in the bullpen to face the Royals.

Leyland didn’t know which specific day, other than it probably wouldn’t be in time for Friday’s series opener.

“They say he’s ready,” Leyland said.

Thus, after opening the year on the disabled list with what was listed as a sore right shoulder following his season-ending stress fracture last August, Zumaya will be ready for his first outing of the year. He made a handful of rehab appearances at Class A Lakeland and Triple-A Toledo.

Pitching on back-to-back days was widely believed to be the final step in Zumaya’s rehab. He did that on Tuesday and Wednesday, pitching a scoreless inning apiece with two strikeouts in each outing.

Once his shoulder felt fine Thursday, he was declared ready to go.

Leyland didn’t specify a role for Zumaya, other than to say he’ll be pitching from the sixth inning on.