April 2009

Another two-strikeout inning for Zumaya

The numbers on Joel Zumaya from his rehab outing with Triple-A Toledo Wednesday night look pretty similar to Tuesday with a scoreless inning and two strikeouts. He gave up a hit this time, a two-out double down the left-field line off a mid-90s fastball, but ended the threat with a called third strike on Chris Barnwell.

Zumaya threw 13 of his 18 pitches for strikes.

Where he goes from here has yet to be announced. The Tigers will evaluate him once they’re sure he feels OK tomorrow, but his ability to pitch effectively on back-to-back days has always been seen as the last step to make sure he’s ready for the big leagues again.

Thames is going to be out a while

The follow-up news on Marcus Thames is not good. Head athletic trainer Kevin Rand called it a “fairly significant left rib cage muscle strain,” severe enough that the muscle, cartilage and rib all got pulled. That’s why Thames felt a pop when he swung, and then had to catch his breath.

No firm timetable for a return, but Rand said Thames can’t do any physical activity for the next until he’s pain free, an estimated 2-4 weeks.

“He’s such a big part of our team,” manager Jim Leyland said. “I think he’s going to be out a while.”

Raburn arrived from Toledo early this afternoon and is in the starting lineup, batting eighth and playing right field. Magglio Ordonez will be the designated hitter tonight. Look for the rotation of guys at DH to pick up while Thames is out, moreso than the Tigers had already been doing.

“I can go a lot of different ways with it,” Leyland said.

To fill the void at Toledo from Raburn’s call-up, the Tigers acquired the contract of journeyman outfielder Jason Tyner from the Brewers organization.

Thames to DL, Raburn called up

Dave Dombrowski announced immediately after the game that Marcus Thames is going onto the DL. He pulled a muscle around his rib cage doing extra hitting before the game tonight and wasn’t available. That’s why Adam Everett was pinch-hitting in the 9th. Ryan Raburn is being recalled from Toledo and will be available Wednesday.

Thames said after the game that he took a swing during early BP when he felt something pop. It’s different than the abdominal muscle that he pulled in Spring Training, because this latest injury is higher up along his left side.

“I knew it was something that couldn’t be good,” Thames said, “because it took the breath away from me a little bit.”

He and the Tigers were awaiting results of an MRI exam to confirm the
severity of the injury, whether it’s a pulled muscle or something worse, and what kind of timetable Thames is looking at for a recovery. Whatever it is, Thames was clearly frustrated after the game, because he was working hard to try to get his swing going.

“It is what it is,” Thames said. “I can’t control it. It’s tough luck right now for me. It hasn’t been a good last two months for me.”

Dombrowski: Cabrera rumors "absurd"

It’s very rare that Dombrowski will delve into trade rumors unless they’re wrong enough that he wants to shoot them down. Well, when he was asked before the game if he wanted to comment on the speculation that the Tigers could trade Miguel Cabrera because they might not be able to afford them, Dombrowski pounced to shoot them down.

“I think it’s absurd, absolutely absurd,” Dombrowski said. “We have no interest in trading Miguel Cabrera. We have had no talks regarding Miguel Cabrera. Not only is it one of the last things we would ever consider, we have an owner who would never let that happen. This is our core player who’s our foundation.”

The speculation came from ESPN over the weekend. Dombrowski said he heard it twice, and it made him upset because of what Cabrera might think. So he wanted to stop the speculation in its tracks. He said that season ticket sales aren’t nearly as bad as people are speculating, middle of the pack among Major League teams, and not far off from their levels in 2007, and that owner Mike Ilitch has a proven track record of building teams around star players.

“There’s nothing that can happen this year that’s going to make us think about trading Miguel Cabrera,” Dombrowski said.

Day-night DH vs. ChiSox July 24

Seems like there's a doubleheader against the White Sox every year (the last two years in Chicago), and the streak will live on, this time in Detroit. Last Tuesday's rainout will be made up as part of a day-night doubleheader on Friday, July 24. The makeup game will be at 1:05 p.m., with the regular game still at 7:05.

Zumaya rehabs much better with Mud Hens

After two outings with control issues for Class A Lakeland, it sounds like Joel Zumaya is back in form now that he’s up with Triple-A Toledo for the rest of his rehab. He pitched two scoreless innings on two singles with no walks and one strikeout.

I wasn’t at the game, so I can only give so many details. But listening to veteran Mud Hens play-by-play man Jim Weber on the radio call, it sounded like a very strong effort. Reportedly, he was consistently in the mid-90s on the radar gun at the new stadium in Columbus for his first inning, which took just 10 pitches, before he apparently amped up when he came back out. His lone strikeout was to the last hitter he faced, and he supposedly hit 101 mph on the stadium radar gun on two of his final three pitches. Don’t know how accurate that radar gun is, but there you have it. He also spotted a curveball or two for strikes, though not consistently.

Unofficial count: 26 pitches, 17 strikes.

Zumaya to Toledo, Willis to Lakeland for rehabs

I’m off this weekend, going back to work during the Angels series next week, but I figured I’d give a quick heads-up about the decisions on two rehab stints, courtesy of MLB.com’s Doug Miller in Seattle:

  • Joel Zumaya is going to join Triple-A Toledo for a stint beginning with an appearance Saturday. Not a whole lot of details were available beyond that, but based on what Zumaya said was the plan at the end of Spring Training, he wasn’t going to be headed out of Lakeland until the final step of his rehab, which would be to see him a little against tougher competition and more importantly to see how his arm handles pitching on back-to-back days. The Mud Hens are in Columbus Saturday and Sunday with an off-day scheduled for Monday before they’re back in Toledo for a homestand starting Tuesday.
  • Dontrelle Willis, meanwhile, will be starting a rehab stint for Class A Lakeland on Tuesday. Leyland said he pitched in an extended Spring Training game on Thursday and, according to reports, “looked fantastic,” with 48 of his 62 pitches for strikes and a fastball at 90-92. “They were legitimate strikes, too,” Leyland told reporters. “The younger kids weren’t swinging at balls outside the strike zone.” To answer what I anticipate the next question might be, Dontrelle can pitch for up to 30 days in a Minor League stint before the Tigers have to make a move of some sort.

Enjoy the weekend. Hopefully you can get out and enjoy this weather if you’re in the area before the rain arrives for Sunday.

Fidrych's death confirmed as an accident

The story is up on the site if you’re interested. On one hand, at least he died tinkering with vehicles, which apparently he loved to do. But man, what a tough way to go. It breaks your heart.

Wells out two months, Hollimon day-to-day

The Tigers just lost one of their outfield prospects for a significant stretch, according to the Erie Times-News. Casper Wells is expected to miss two months after he fractured his hamate bone in his left hand. He somehow did it swinging and missing at a pitch earlier this week. He’ll undergo surgery next week and do 6-8 weeks of rehab.

Michael Hollimon, meanwhile, is day-to-day with a bruised left knee which he suffered crashing into the fence separating the third-base stands from the field while he was chasing a foul ball Tuesday night. It’s his second tough break already this year; he missed time in Spring Training when he took a ball off his bare hand, pulling back the nail on his right middle finger.

Everett latest Tiger to fall ill

They probably mentioned it on the broadcast already, but Ramon Santiago is starting his second straight game at shortstop because Adam Everett is sick. He has the same bug that knocked Gerald Laird out of play Monday, and he was feeling bad enough that Jim Leyland told him to stay home and not come to the ballpark.

There’s another motivation in keeping Everett home, of course, and that’s to try to contain whatever he has from spreading around the clubhouse. With a 10-day, three-city trip coming up, Leyland is clearly worried about the chance of more players coming down with it, especially when they’re all together on the plane tomorrow evening.

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