June 2009

Perry optioned to Toledo

Ryan Perry is heading back to Triple-A Toledo, this time for a longer stay than his brief stop there a week and a half ago. The Tigers optioned out the rookie reliever after Sunday’s game.

No corresponding move was announced, but the move was as much about working with Perry as getting in another bullpen arm. The 22-year-old had encountered struggles over the past few weeks, which the Tigers hope they can address with a more regular workload with the Mud Hens.

Perry, Detroit’s first-round pick in last summer’s First-Year Player Draft, made the team out of Spring Training with a solid fastball that consistently hit the mid-90s to go with a biting slider. But he was a case of learning on the job, as he had less than a half-season of Minor League ball last year — with none of that experience coming above Class A.

From Opening Day, Perry’s stuff an impressed, with a fastball that touched the upper 90s and a biting slider. The issue was going to be control.

For the first two months, Perry overcame it, recording five holds while allowing six runs on 12 hits over 20 1/3 innings despite 16 walks. His six June outings, however, saw opponents score seven runs in as many innings on 12 hits with five walks and six strikeouts.

For the season so far, Perry is 0-1 with a 4.28 ERA, having allowed 24 hits over 27 1/3 innings with 21 walks and 25 strikeouts.

The Tigers optioned Perry to Toledo on June 8 to make room for Jeremy Bonderman’s return, but promptly brought back Perry once Bonderman went back on the disabled list four days later. Perry spent just a few hours in Toledo and didn’t pitch in a game there.

Verlander, Jackson won't pitch back to back

Jim Leyland confirmed Sunday morning that he’s going to tweak his rotation order later this week after the Cubs series. Justin Verlander will move up a spot after this start and pitch Friday at Houston instead of Saturday, which is where his turn would’ve otherwise fallen. He switches spots with Alfredo Figaro, who will pitch Saturday ahead of Edwin Jackson in Sunday’s series finale.

The move separates what had arguably been baseball’s best 1-2 combo this year. Verlander and Jackson had pitched back-to-back all year ever since Leyland had them start the first two games of the season, and their success — especially pitching deep into games — has allowed Detroit to keep its bullpen fresh for Rick Porcello’s starts after Jackson. However, the bullpen has been taxed by the back two spots in the rotation, and Leyland now has two rookie starters to watch, though Figaro is older and has pitched more innings than Porcello.

Sunday: Tigers vs. Brewers

This Sunday’s lineup isn’t nearly as different as last Sunday, the one that featured a top three of Don Kelly, Ramon Santiago and Josh Anderson. All three are in the lineup, but not in that order. Santiago is back in the second spot to give Ramon Santiago a day off. Kelly is batting fifth again behind Marcus Thames, while Anderson bats seventh.

TIGERS

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

P: Verlander

BREWERS

  1. Craig Counsell, 2B
  2. Casey McGehee, DH
  3. Ryan Braun, LF
  4. Prince Fielder, DH
  5. Frank Catalanotto, RF
  6. Mike Cameron, LF
  7. Mat Gamel, 3B
  8. J.J. Hardy, SS
  9. Jason Kendall, C

P: Yovani Gallardo
 

Polanco leaves game as precaution

Ramon Santiago pinch-hit in the eighth inning Saturday for Placido Polanco, who left the game as a precaution when his left leg stiffened up. But both Polanco and manager Jim Leyland said after the game that it’s nothing to worry about.

Polanco took a Seth McClung pitch off his left quadriceps in the sixth. He stayed in the game and came around to score on Marcus Thames’ single two batters later, then played two more innings in the field.

The quad didn’t immediately stiffen up, Polanco said, but just got progressively sore.

“It got a little tight — nothing major, nothing bad at all,” Polanco said. “It’s just sore, and I don’t want it to get worse. I just didn’t want to be half-stepping out there.”

Manager Jim Leyland said he was already planning to rest Polanco on Sunday in favor of Santiago, which he has done several times on day games before off-days. Combined with Monday’s off-day, that’ll give Polanco two days off before Tuesday’s series opener against the Cubs.

Saturday: Tigers vs. Brewers

Almost forgot the lineups in all the hubbub about Leyland and Boras. Sorry about that …

TIGERS

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

P: Alfredo Figaro

BREWERS

  1. Craig Counsell, 2B
  2. Casey McGehee, DH
  3. Ryan Braun, LF
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B
  5. Corey Hart, RF
  6. Mat Gamel, 3B
  7. J.J. Hardy, SS
  8. Jody Gerut, CF
  9. Jason Kendall, C

P: Dave Bush

Leyland fires back at Boras

While Tigers manager Jim Leyland took exception to agent Scott Boras’ remarks on Magglio Ordonez, he also put more of a definite timeframe on how long Ordonez will be out of the lineup.

“To be honest, I’m hoping Tuesday is the day [Ordonez returns],” Leyland said Saturday afternoon. “Will it be? I don’t know.”

Tuesday is the start of the Tigers’ series against the Cubs at Comerica Park. That would give him five days away from hitting since he last started Wednesday at St. Louis.

Leyland said Friday that he would go by his gut feeling when to put Ordonez back in the lineup, and to some degree, that remains the case. He won’t start Ordonez Tuesday if he doesn’t feel Ordonez is ready, but he also made the point that Ordonez will be back in the lineup, whether it’s Tuesday or not.

How that plays out is up to Leyland and Ordonez, and Leyland clearly let his preference be known that Boras stay out of it.

“Scott Boras might be better off if he leaves Magglio Ordonez and myself to handle this instead of him,” Leyland said, “because Magglio Ordonez will be back in the lineup. I just did exactly what I said: When you beat your head against the wall and continue to do it, sooner or later you say, ‘You know what, this isn’t working. Let’s try something different.’ That’s all this is about.

“The biggest point that I want to make about the whole thing is this is strictly about Magglio Ordonez and how we feel about him and care about him. This has nothing to do with anything else, including Scott Boras.”

Boras questioned the Tigers’ decision to sit Ordonez during interviews on Friday.

“Take a look at what (Red Sox manager) Terry Francona is doing with David Ortiz,” Boras told the Detroit News. “And this man has nowhere near the numbers of Magglio Ordonez in recent seasons. And Ortiz is coming off a bad year from the year before (2008). <p>
“A-Rod in the month of June hit .137 in 2006. Jeter, I believe, for two months hit under .200. They didn’t bench him.

“Give me the compelling reasons for benching Magglio. You bench Magglio, and you’re gonna have a problem — a real problem justifying that to me.”

Boras did not return a telephone message left by MLB.com Friday.

Leyland justifies the Tigers’ move by the fact that it’s not a long-term decision. If Ordonez is back in the lineup Tuesday, even Leyland’s original term of an “indefinite” time out of the lineup seems strong.

“This is about Magglio Ordonez and a manager trying to do something that we think may help get him right,” Leyland said. “Is it the right thing? I don’t know, but that’s what this is about. And I’m not going to take shots from people in the newspaper that are untruths. If they’re the truths, and I’m wrong, go ahead and punch me in the jaw. But don’t give me this.

“The main thing is Magglio and trying to get him right. This is about no other issue than Magglio Ordonez and trying to get him right so that he can contribute the way he feels good about himself. Because by own admission, he’s embarrassed.”

Leyland also took exception to the idea that this came about suddenly.

“It was total nonsense on the agent’s part that I blindsided Magglio Ordonez,” Leyland said. “I’ve had two or three conversations with Magglio Ordonez about this. I’m very respectful of Scott Boras, but I’m not going to listen to that. …

“That’s just unfair. We don’t blindside players here. We don’t not tell players the truth here. We don’t work that way here. And Scott Boras knows that in his heart. This is another grandstanding in the newspaper. That’s the end of that.”

An interesting backdrop to this, though, is that the Tigers’ dealings with Scott Boras are seemingly never ending. Besides Ordonez’s contract options and the possibility of a showdown if the Tigers release Ordonez when he’s close to vesting those options, the Tigers still have a slew of players represented by Boras. That includes Detroit’s first-round pick from this month’s First-Year Player Draft, high school pitcher Jacob Turner, who fell to the Tigers in part because he’s expected to be a tough sign.

I don’t think it’ll be a big deal. In the end, the market always wins out with Boras. And if the last two years have shown anything with Boras clients, it’s that the players will step in and make their own calls if they feel they need to do it.

Tarp is back on, then off

Sorry, folks. But just as the grounds crew was working on the field, it began raining again. A few minutes later, it stopped, and the tarp came back off.

It’s possible that the weather has the best deception of the night.

Ordonez calls situation embarrassing, but not angry

While manager Jim Leyland is going out of his way to emphasize that Magglio Ordonez is not benched, and agent Scott Boras is arguing that Ordonez didn’t deserve to be taken out of the lineup, Ordonez is sounding surprisingly calm about the matter.

That doesn’t mean he’s taking it completely in stride.

“Yes, it’s embarrassing,” Ordonez said when asked how he’s feeling about not being in the lineup right now.

Ordonez talked with reporters Friday for the first time since manager Jim Leyland announced he was going to sit Ordonez indefinitely. Leyland talked again about his decision Friday when asked about it after the Tigers announced Leyland’s two-year contract extension.

“Magglio Ordonez is not benched,” Leyland said. “What I said was, and what I meant was, that I’m going to get him out of there indefinitely. And what I mean by that is, by Magglio’s own admission, and from what I’ve seen and the coaches have seen, we were kind of beating our head against the wall, all of us.

“I’ve tried [batting him in] the third spot. I’ve tried the fifth spot. I’ve tried the sixth spot. For whatever reason, we just haven’t been able to get him going yet, and that’s also by his own admission.”

Ordonez said he had no problem with the way Leyland has handled the decision. Leyland said he had three different conversations with Ordonez recently.

“We both try hard, the organization, everybody,” Ordonez said. “They don’t want me to do bad. I don’t want to do bad.”

Asked how he’s handling it himself, Ordonez said, “I’m handling it good. It’s something that I can’t control. I just prepare myself to be ready to play every day.

“I haven’t been hitting like I used to. But, like I said, I’m just going to come every day to the park ready to play. I don’t have control of the lineup. When he chooses me to play, I’ll be ready to play.”

Ordonez was asked about his hitting. He has had his share of singles as part of his .273 average, but with two home runs and nine doubles, his power has taken the greatest hit.

“Probably one of the reasons is I’m worrying about things that are out of my control,” Ordonez said. “And I probably forget what I do best is hit and play the game. If you see my history, in my career, I have good numbers. But I’ll be OK. I’ll be ready. I know how to hit. I know how to play the game. I’ve just run into a little bump, and I’ll be back.”

Ordonez’s agent, Scott Boras, came to his client’s defense earlier in the day.

“Take a look at what (Red Sox manager) Terry Francona is doing with David Ortiz,” Boras told the Detroit News. “And this man has nowhere near the numbers of Magglio Ordonez in recent seasons. And Ortiz is coming off a bad year from the year before (2008).

“A-Rod in the month of June hit .137 in 2006. Jeter, I believe, for two months hit under .200. They didn’t bench him.

“Give me the compelling reasons for benching Magglio. You bench Magglio, and you’re gonna have a problem — a real problem justifying that to me.”

Boras did not return a phone message left Friday by MLB.com.

Boras becomes involved in part because of Ordonez’s contract. His 2008 club option at $15 million automatically vests if he has 1,080 total plate appearances in 2008-09. He needs 215 more plate appearances this year to reach it.

Asked how much his contract situation weighs on his mind, Ordonez said, “It’s something that is out of my hands. It’s something that I don’t control.”

Rain delay update

UPDATE @ 10:10pm: Tarp has now been taken off the field. Looks like there’s a window to at least get this game official, if not finished.

UPDATE @ 9:20pm: This game had been set to resume around 9:30. Just when the grounds crew was about to remove the tarp, however, it started pouring again. The stakes are back in for now. This is going to be tricky, since there’s another nasty, large storm cell approaching from the west.

First home run reversal at Comerica Park

For the second time this month, the Tigers had a home run under review. Friday’s replay, however, resulted in the first reversal in Comerica Park history, giving Miguel Cabrera a game-tying solo homer in the third inning against the Brewers.

Milwaukee starter Braden Looper retired the first two batters of the inning and had an 0-1 count on Cabrera, who pounced on a slider and launched a line drive deep to left. Second-base umpire Ron Kulpa initially ruled the ball as in play as Cabrera rounded the bases. Tigers third-base coach Gene Lamont immediately started up the argument before manager Jim Leyland came out of the dugout to ask for a conference.

Only the umpiring crew can call for a review, which third-base umpire and crew chief Dale Scott did quickly following a meeting. A couple minutes after going into the bowels of the ballpark to look at the replay, they came back out with a reversal.

The ballpark hadn’t had a review at all until June 4, when then-Tiger Jeff Larish launched a ball down the right-field line that was initially ruled foul. Replays confirmed the ruling.

“Umpires are amazing,” Leyland said after that decision. “I must have seen 10 replays before I was sure they had it right, but they did.”

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