June 2009

Price and Keating team up again

Tigers radio play-by-play man Dan Dickerson is moving around a little better in the weeks since his leg injury a month ago in Kansas City. Unfortunately, he hasn't been cleared to travel quite yet. You know the deal by now: FSN Detroit's Tigers Live pregame show host, John Keating, will join Jim Price in the booth while the Tigers are on the road for this three-city, 10-day trip. Had the pleasure of listening to Mr. Keating call some play-by-play during the series in St. Louis a week and a half ago while I was back in Detroit; he sounded like a natural.

Attendance note

A little note before taking off for Houston: Thursday’s sellout crowd of 42,332 was the largest crowd of the season besides Opening Day. Yes, the largest non-opener crowd was a weekday afternoon game. Moreover, the total for the three-game series against the Cubs was the largest of any three-game set this year (they can probably thank some Cubs fans for that, admittedly). The Tigers drew at least 38,000 for all six games of the just-finished homestand.

A lot has been made about the drop in attendance at Comerica Park compared to last season, and understandably so given the economy. But last season aside, the Tigers usually don’t regularly draw packed crowds until the summer, when Michigan weather finally warms up and the kids are out of school. So really, comparing early-season crowds this year with the average from every game last season is a little skewed. We’ll get a better idea what’s going on this summer.

For what it’s worth, the Tigers are still somehow fourth among AL teams in attendance, averaging 30,205 per game. The three teams ahead of them are the Yankees, Angels and Red Sox. Obviously, the Tigers are getting a big number of walk-up ticket sales. It’s a factor not lost in the clubhouse.

“The buzz in the ballpark, I think, is so good because of what’s going on,” Leyland said. “It makes you feel good because of obviously what’s happening in the community and everything. It’s a little more stressful right now, not that it wasn’t in 2006, but it’s good to see people coming out. It’s a tough, resilient town, and they’re going to make it. …

“I wish I could give every one of them a ticket, to be honest with you, for one game. But I can’t. But I wish I could, because the support’s unbelievable.”

Maggio's hair now up on eBay

If you search on eBay for Magglio Ordonez hair, you’ll come up with a pretty unique bidding item. As promised, he has put up for auction the hair that was cut Wednesday. Proceeds benefit the Imerman Angels, an organization that connects people currently battling cancer with cancer survivors for personal support and encouragement.

The package up for bid includes the hair, a game bat autographed by Magglio and the use for his private box at Comerica Park for the Sept. 15 game against the Royals. Starting bid is $5,000, and bidding runs through July 4 at 8 p.m. ET.

Thursday: Tigers vs. Cubs

Dusty Ryan gets the start with Armando Galarraga on the mound.

TIGERS

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

P: Armando Galarraga

CUBS

  1. Alfonso Soriano, LF
  2. Ryan Theriot, SS
  3. Derrek Lee, 1B
  4. Micah Hoffpauir, RF
  5. Jake Fox, DH
  6. Mike Fontenot, 3B
  7. Kosuke Fukudome, CF
  8. Koyie Hill, C
  9. Andres Blanco, 2B

P: Ted Lilly

Magglio gets a haircut

Magglio Ordonez is back in the Tigers lineup for a second straight night. His long locks of hair, on the other hand, are somewhere on the floor, or wherever his barber left them.

With everything that has been going on this year, Ordonez was ready for a change. So he got his hair cut — short. He said it was his first haircut in five years, though you might remember he had short hair during his first season as a Tiger in 2005. The new Magglio look is a lot like that, only maybe with a little more hair on top.

“Change,” Ordonez said. “Overhauling. Maybe I hit like old Magglio.”

The first 90-degree day of the summer in Detroit might’ve also had an impact.

“Hot,” he said. “Too heavy.”

The long hair had become so much of Magglio’s image that it was a scene in the clubhouse when he walked in with the shorter look. You could hear the hollering all the way from the manager’s office down the hall.

“He looks younger now,” said closer Fernando Rodney, who had big hair himself until Freddy Dolsi gave him a buzz cut last summer.

TIGERS

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

P: Porcello

Tigers hosting live Twitter event tonight

The Tigers will hold their first-ever live Twitter event tonight starting at 7 p.m., around the start of the game against the Cubs. Ron Colangelo, the team’s vice president of communications, and special guests will answer questions from their Twitter page followers @official_tigers from game time until the 7th inning. Fans will also have a chance to win tickets to a future Tigers home game.

Full details are at tigers.com/tweetevent.

Inge's homer brings up a heartwarming tale

If you were watching the Tigers telecast tonight, you might have noticed what looked like a tattoo on Inge’s right arm. It was actually an autograph Inge got from a patient he visited at Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, and it was quite a thrill for Tommy Schomaker and his family.

Schomaker, 8, was born with a heart condition and has had numerous surgeries since birth. He was on the list for a heart transplant around the time Inge visited the hospital a few weeks ago. Suddenly, doctors found a heart for him, and he was rushed into surgery. Unfortunately for him, it was right around the time Inge was visiting, and he really, really wanted to meet Inge, who agreed to stop by again to see him.

Inge visited the hospital again Tuesday and saw Schomaker, who’s apparently doing very well a few weeks since receiving his new heart. Inge was signing one autograph after another for him when Inge said he wanted his autograph on his arm, so that he could get it on TV. So Schomaker wrote his first name, Tommy, in big letters on Inge’s right arm, where he doesn’t wear any wristbands or anything. You can see part of it on the photo here.

Thanks to Inge’s home run, Tommy’s autograph got a lot of air time Tuesday. Inge didn’t promise a homer or anything, but it ended up being a nice bonus.

Magglio back in Tigers lineup

Jim Leyland’s gut told him to give Magglio Ordonez a shot against Carlos Zambrano, not that anyone else would have a great chance of hitting him anyway. He’s batting seventh and playing in right field.

“I’m not going to put any added pressure on him,” Leyland said, “just put him down there and see what happens. …

“I will say this: I labored over this [becuase of Zambrano].”

Leyland, having learned his lesson over using the word “indefinite” when he took Ordonez out of the lineup last week, wasn’t going to say anything about how long Ordonez would be in there, other than he wasn’t going to take him out if he had a bad game.

“Magglio’s playing tonight, and I’m going to try to get Magglio going,” Leyland said. “I’ll leave it at that.”

TIGERS

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

P: Jackson

CUBS

  1. Alfonso Soriano, LF
  2. Ryan Theriot, SS
  3. Milton Bradley, RF
  4. Derrek Lee, 1B
  5. Micah Hoffpauir, DH
  6. Geovany Soto, C
  7. Kosuke Fukudome, CF
  8. Mike Fontenot, 3B
  9. Andres Blanco, 2B

P: Carlos Zambrano

Tigers to call up Dolsi

Freddy Dolsi will get another shot at the big leagues beginning Tuesday, when the Tigers recall the right-hander from Triple-A Toledo. The team announced the move Monday as the follow-up to Sunday’s postgame move that optioned Ryan Perry to the Mud Hens.

The 26-year-old Dolsi is 2-2 with a 4.35 ERA and four saves in 24 appearances with the Hens this year, but has seemingly found his game in June after opponents batted .409 against him in May. Since the start of this month, he has allowed two runs on eight hits over 10 2/3 innings and converted three saves.

Dolsi made 42 appearances for the Tigers last year with a 1-5 record and two saves to go with a 3.97 ERA over 47 2/3 innings. He made an early impression with the club after arriving in May, but fell into command struggles, evidenced by his 28 walks.

UPDATE: Also on Saturday, the Tigers outrighted the contract of catcher Dane Sardinha to Toledo. Detroit designated Sardinha for assignment after Friday’s game, replacing him at backup catcher with prospect Dusty Ryan.

Boras clears up comments

Just heard back from agent Scott Boras, who clarified his remarks regarding manager Jim Leyland’s decision to sit Magglio Ordonez for a stretch. The point Boras wanted to make is that his remarks were in response to reporters’ questions about Ordonez’s contract, which of course includes a $15 million club option for next year that automatically vests if Ordonez has 215 more plate appearances this season. His remarks were not, he emphasized, in response to Leyland’s decision.

“Those two writers asked me questions about contracts,” Boras said. “They never asked me questions about playing time.”

More to the point, Boras said he wasn’t trying to tell the Tigers what to do with Ordonez’s situation.

“I was not delivering a message to Jim Leyland,” Boras said. “I would call Jim Leyland if I wanted to talk with him.”

On Sunday, Leyland said he was caught off guard by Boras’ remarks from Friday, and he believed Boras “overreacted” to the Tigers’ decision. Given what we know now, that Leyland is most likely going to put Ordonez back in the starting lineup in the next few days, it appears Leyland’s use of the term “indefinite” to describe how long Ordonez would be out of the lineup might’ve been a little strong, though Leyland said Sunday he didn’t mean it to signify the long term.

Boras did go to some of his statistics to defend Ordonez from citicism, but he said those were in response to questions about Ordonez’s age — he’s 35 — and his production. He’s batting .300 with runners in scoring position, and he’s 8-for-18 with a runner in scoring position and two outs.

“Magglio is not in a particular [overall] slump,” Boras said. “He’s in a power slump.”

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