April 1st, 2009

April Fools …

This is a new one for the Tigers: Allegedly as a team unity gesture, and probably an April Fool’s joke, not to mention a way to break up the last week of Spring Training, the Tigers took the field today dressed in other players’ jerseys. To go down the list …

  • Verlander and Laird have traded jerseys. Amazingly, they fit.
  • Miguel Cabrera is wearing Armando Galarraga’s jersey.
  • Placido Polanco is wearing Adam Everett’s jersey. Everett is now dressed in Santiago’s jersey, and Santiago has Polanco’s jersey.
  • Brandon Inge and the bat boy have traded jerseys.
  • Carlos Guillen has Mike Hessman’s jersey.
  • Magglio is wearing Al Kaline’s jersey.
  • Fernando Rodney is wearing Leyland’s jersey.
  • And finally, in a switch that would really drive a photographer crazy, Curtis Granderson is wearing Josh Anderson’s jersey. Anderson is now dressed as Granderson.

Those crazy kids …

Closer by committee? Sure sounds like it

It’ll get lost in the news about Rick Porcello and Ryan Perry, but Jim Leyland was asked about his closing situation. If the Tigers have a one-run lead in the ninth inning on Opening Day at Toronto, he said, he’ll turn to Fernando Rodney to close it out.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that he’ll do the same if the Tigers have a one-run lead on Tuesday, it’ll be Rodney again. It could be Brandon Lyon.

Leyland indicated a week or so ago that he might not name a closer, that he might turn to multiple relievers for the role. As the Tigers close out camp, that still appears to be the case.

“It might be,” Leyland said. “It might not just be one guy. There might be somebody else involved.”

And it might not just be Lyon and Rodney, at least not for the long term.

“We may have a guy that’s two weeks, maybe a month away from joining the team,” Leyland said.

That’ll get Joel Zumaya into the picture.

Porcello, Perry make team, Robertson in relief

Rick Porcello and Ryan Perry have a combined 38 games of professional baseball experience, none of it above Class A ball. But they’ll have two spots on the Tigers’ 12-man pitching staff.

In the end, talent won out over the experience. The Tigers made the moves to finalize their pitching staff on Wednesday, optioning left-hander Clay Rapada to Triple-A Toledo and assigning right-hander Scott Williamson to Minor League camp.

The rest were informed they’ll make the team. That includes the 20-year-old Porcello, who will take a spot in Detroit’s rotation, and the 22-year-old Perry, who will pitch out of the bullpen. Other pitchers who made it include non-roster candidates Juan Rincon and Eddie Bonine.

Zach Miner was also informed he’ll be a Tigers starter, taking the spot of injured Jeremy Bonderman. He and Porcello will join Justin Verlander, Edwin Jackson and Armando Galarraga in the rotation. Nate Robertson, who was fighting for a starting job, will pitch out of the bullpen.

On the positional side, three more moves brought the Tigers within one move of finalizing the bench. Utilityman Ryan Raburn, who has been the subject of trade rumors, was instead optioned to Triple-A Toledo along with catcher Dane Sardinha. Corner infielder Mike Hessman, meanwhile, was placed on waivers and informed he will not make the team.

That leaves left-handed hitter Jeff Larish and outfielders Brent Clevlen in camp and one roster spot to announce. Larish is believed to have the upper hand for the job, with the Tigers waiting until the end of camp to make a move on Clevlen, who’s out of options and would have to clear waivers to be outrighted to Triple-A Toledo.

Zumaya throws Minor League game

Lost in all the other news today, so lost that I almost forgot to mention it, was the fact that Joel Zumaya pitched an inning Tuesday in a Minor League game against Houston’s Class A team. He hit 97 mph consistently on the radar gun, according to Jim Leyland, while spotting a quality breaking ball. He gave up a run when he left a fastball up and watched it fly out to right-center?

Another step closer to the Major Leagues? Maybe, but a small step that nonetheless will have him opening the season on the 15-day disabled list. Still, it’s better than having him not pitching at all at this point.

On a side note, look for a few more moves to come down Wednesday morning, None of them are expected to finalize the roster — that might not happen until Friday — but they should help sort through what’s left.