July 2009

Robertson, Bonderman could rehab next week

Unless they’re unusually sore in their arms tomorrow, both Nate Robertson and Jeremy Bonderman are on track to begin Minor League rehab assignments next week after they pitched in a simulated game Friday afternoon at Cleveland.

Robertson threw 45 pitches, or the equivalent of about three innings, to a group of Tigers hitters that included Ramon Santiago, Ryan Raburn, Clete Thomas and Dusty Ryan. Once again, he noticed a little more bite in his pitches, the product of an elbow free of the tissue masses that were moved during surgery last month.

“It’s what the hitters see,” Robertson said, “and [Thomas] said he had a tough time picking up the rotation on my slider, which is good. It gives you more deception. The ball was moving pretty good, too, for the most part. I got jumpy on a couple pitches, but when I got the ball out front, it had the movement and the rotation that I want.”

Bonderman threw about 35 pitches over two innings, all out of the stretch in preparation for the relief role he’ll have if he comes back to pitch this season. He said his arm is feeling “a lot better than it did” in his previous rehab work earlier this season, enough that he feels confident he can get back and contribute this year.

“I feel pretty certain that I’ll be all right this time,” he said. “We’ll see.”

When team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski was asked what he expects out of their situations, he was guardedly optimistic.

“Do I expect them [to come back]? I can’t tell you that I expect them,” Dombrowski said. “Am I hopeful? Yes.” 

A couple key points to note are that Robertson would pitch as a starter in rehab, and that it won’t be a quick sasignment. Robertson said the goal is to be ready at the end of August, which would point toward a September call-up when rosters expand.

While Bonderman will pitch in relief, that doesn’t mean anything for his future use beyond this year.

“Next year, we would project him as a starter,” Dombrowski said. “We just think [this works now] strengthwise in his arm as much as the ability to build him up. There’s been an indication, just because of everything he’s been through, after he throws 25-30 pitches, his stuff falls off.” 

Zumaya to have surgery, out for season

Just heard from the Tigers that Joel Zumaya will undergo surgery to remove the bone fragment from the stress fracture in his shoulder. It’s scheduled for mid-August and will cost him the rest of the season.

Dr. James Andrews examined Zumaya this morning in Pensacola, Fla., and gave him another cortisone shot to quiet the soreness he developed while playing catch a few days ago. The diagnosis was that it wasn’t going to get any better if he couldn’t get through playing catch pain-free.

Zumaya last week that the timetable on such a surgery would be eight weeks. So if there’s good news out of this, it’s that he’ll be ready to go through close to a full offseason regimen and be ready for next spring training. But of course, after three straight injury-shortened seasons, the Tigers can’t assume he’ll be back and healthy.

No word on how this affects Tigers trade talks. Orioles closer George Sherrill went to the Dodgers, but there are setup men available on the market that might be available for cheaper. if not, look for Brandon Lyon and Bobby Seay to continue in setup work, with Ryan Perry working his way into more close games.

Tigers trade Josh Anderson to Royals

The Tigers have traded outfielder Josh Anderson to the Royals for cash considerations. Anderson’s contract was designated for assignment last week. The Royals and Yankees both had interest, but the Yankees apparently weren’t willing to offer up a prospect in the deal. The Royals also came ahead of New York in the waiver claims process.

Kansas City will be the third team for Anderson this calendar year and the fourth in his career. Detroit acquired him from Atlanta in the final week of Spring Training.

Anderson batted .242 with the Tigers with
four doubles, four triples and 16 RBIs in 74 games, covering 165
at-bats. The 26-year-old stole 13 bases in 15 attempts.

Yankees among clubs eyeing Josh Anderson

The Yankees have shown interest in former Tigers outfielder Josh
Anderson, following a report earlier Wednesday from cbssports.com’s
Danny Knobler. A second team, not yet identified, is also said to be
interested.

The Tigers designated Anderson’s
contract for assignment last week to make room for Carlos Guillen to
return from the disabled list, so Detroit isn’t in a position to ask
for much in a trade. Still, the speedy Anderson could be a fit for the
Yankees to fill in for Brett Gardner, who’s out until mid-August with a
fractured left thumb.

The Tigers will have to either swing a
deal with another club or let Anderson go if they can’t get him through
waivers. If he does sneak through waivers, the Tigers can outright him
to Triple-A Toledo.

Anderson batted .242 with the Tigers with
four doubles, four triples and 16 RBIs in 74 games, covering 165
at-bats. The 26-year-old stole 13 bases in 15 attempts.

Inge sits, looks to make changes

After much debating, Jim Leyland decided to give Brandon Inge the night off and pair it with Thursday’s scheduled off-day to give him two days of rest ahead of Friday’s series opener at Cleveland. He’s hoping it can make a difference in the pain that’s hounding Inge in the patella tendon around Inge’s left knee, though Inge isn’t so optimistic.

Inge talked Wednesday about using the night off to get away from the mental grind, then working a little with his swing to try to find a way to cut down on his pain without falling so much into bad habits. It might involve taking a two-strike approach throughout an at-bat and cutting down on the power, or keeping weight off of his front side in his stance.

“Mentally, I need to figure out how to go about this,” Inge said. “Everything’s kind of off right now because of the knee, so I’m going to have to make an adjustment.”

Ramon Santiago isn’t starting after taking that fol tip off his right shin, but he’s available if need be. Leyland might’ve started Santiago at second base and rested Placido Polanco otherwise, but he’ll instead look to rest Polanco at some point this weekend.

TIGERS

  1. Curtis Granderson, CF
  2. Placido Polanco, 2B
  3. Carlos Guillen, DH
  4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  5. Magglio Ordonez, RF
  6. Marcus Thames, LF
  7. Ryan Raburn, 3B
  8. Gerald Laird, C
  9. Adam Everett, SS

P: Justin Verlander

RANGERS

  1. Omar Vizquel, 2B
  2. Michael Young, 3B
  3. David Murphy, LF
  4. Marlon Byrd, CF
  5. Hank Blalock, 1B
  6. Andruw Jones, DH
  7. Josh Hamilton, RF
  8. Taylor Teagarden, C
  9. Elvis Andrus, SS

P: Scott Feldman

Zumaya to see Dr. Andrews

Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya will visit noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews Thursday morning for a diagnosis and a list of his options after he experienced more soreness in his ailing right shoulder.

Head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said surgery is a possibility, but not a certainty, to clear up the bone shard in Zumaya’s shoulder from the stress fracture that developed last year.

“It’s going to be more of a diagnostic [visit] than a physical examination,” Rand said.

In other words, Zumaya seems to be back at the point where he was a week and a half ago, when shoulder pain forced him onto the disabled list after an outing against the Yankees. Together. Dr. Andrews and Zumaya have to decide whether he still has a shot to pitch again this year without surgery, or if he should just go ahead and have it now. Zumaya said last week that he would consider surgery if his shoulder soreness didn’t clear up.

Zumaya took two cortisone shots last week to quiet the swelling in his shoulder so the team medical staff could see how he felt when he threw. He had light sessions of catch last Saturday and Monday, Rand said, but complained of soreness again Tuesday.

Dr. Andrews has been consulting with Zumaya on his shoulder ever since he was diagnosed with a stress fracture last August. He advised Zumaya last year that he could work his way back to pitching again without surgery, that his fracture is a condition many football quarterbacks came through.

Zumaya came back better than expected in late April, throwing fastballs at his old velocity at 100 mph and above. For that reason, Zumaya said last week, he wasn’t overly concerned when he had shoulder soreness a few weeks ago. Once it became more severe during that outing at Yankees Stadium, Zumaya told the team medical staff.

If Zumaya opts for surgery now, it would almost surely end his season. Zumaya said last week that recovery takes about eight weeks, which would take up nearly the rest of the regular season. If he doesn’t have it now, he expects to have it when the season ends.

Leyland, Grilli revisited

Just when you thought the drama between Jim Leyland and Jason Grilli had long since passed, along came a 92 mph fastball from Jason Grilli that went behind Tigers batter Clete Thomas, head-high. It came in the fifth inning, with the Rangers on their way to a 7-3 win.

By the time the night was over, it was the catalyst for the inside pitches that left both dugouts with a warning from home-plate umpire Andy Fletcher.

The pitch in question came just after Thomas hit a long foul ball down the right-field line. But would Grilli, a Detroit teammate of Thomas to open the 2008 season, throw at him?

“When you don’t throw any wild pitches the rest of the time you’re out there, and one goes behind his head after a loud foul, it just looks suspicious,” Leyland said. “I’m not saying he did or he didn’t, but it did look suspicious. We were trying to send a message back.”

Leyland later described Grilli’s pitch as “careless.”

“I don’t know,” he said. “I didn’t know what to think, whether he did or didn’t do it on purpose. That’s part of the game. Just go on about your business.”

You might remember the exchange of words between Leyland and Grilli last year. The Tigers traded Grilli to Colorado early in the year, and Grilli later was quoted in a Bob Nightengale article detailing the chemistry issues surrounding the ’08 Tigers.

Grilli has worked hard to put that behind him, and he didn’t indicate any hard feelings.

“I had great experiences over there,” he said. “I’ve been with the Tigers more than with any team in my career. It’s bragging rights, playing against your friends.”

The Tigers’ message pitch came an inning and a half after Grilli’s inside pitch, and immediately after Andrus homered to make it a 7-3 game. Zach Miner threw his next pitch behind Ian Kinsler.

“We weren’t trying to throw the ball behind Kinsler,” Leyland said. “We were trying to throw the ball down and in on him to get him to move his feet, just to send a message back. No question about it. And I’d do it again, because I felt Grilli’s was a real careless pitch. I think careless is a pretty good description of it.”

Once Eddie Guardado’s first pitch of the next inning went inside to Adam Everett, his teammate on the Twins last year, the dugouts were warned and several players were cxchanging words.

“I just don’t think there was anything to it,” Everett said. “To get it tight is one thing. To try to hit somebody is another.”

Leyland was seen talking intently with Fletcher and crew chief Tim McClelland after the inning ended.

“I just wanted to explain to them that we felt Grilli threw a purpose pitch after Thomas hit a loud foul,” Leyland said. “And the purpose pitch was at his head.”

The one player hit by a ball was Ramon Santiago, and it was a fourth-inning foul tip that knocked him out of the game with a bruised right shin. He’s day-to-day.

Washburn could be fit for Tigers

Oh, what a difference a turn in the rotation makes. When Jarrod
Washburn made his last start, baffling the Tigers over seven scoreless
innings, the Mariners looked like a team that could make a run in the
AL West after all. The Mariners didn’t win another game from their
other four starters, and as Washburn prepared for his next start
Tuesday night, rumors heated up about Washburn on the selling block.

The
Tigers had as good of a view as anybody at what Washburn could do, and
as a team in search of a left-handed starter, they couldn’t help but be
impressed. If the Mariners as serious about listening to offers for the
southpaw in his final year of his contract, look for the Tigers to at least inquire about him. The challenge for them is that so many other teams are in
need of solid, consistent starters that Washburn’s value could rise
quickly, especially now that a few contenders had injury concerns
emerge.

The Tigers had an appealing package for the Mariners in
trade talks for J.J. Putz over the winter, including left-handed power
hitting such as Jeff Larish. But these Mariners are a different team
than last fall.

Magglio starts again, Laird gets a rest

Jim Leyland isn’t saying that his Magglio Ordonez-Clete Thomas platoon is over, but it basically sounds like he’s taking Ordonez’s situation on a day-to-day basis.

“I think he’s swinging the bat freely right now,” Leyland said, “so I’m going to play him for another day. I think he gives us the best chance tonight.”

That’s how Leyland is filling out his lineup these days with the guys he has. Of course, Leyland also has said several times that he’ll really like a lineup going into a game and then watch it fail to produce, such as last night.

Gerald Laird, meanwhile, is getting a day out of the lineup, presumably to get some rest. Odd, though, that it would come in the middle of the series, rather than using the getaway day to essentially get him 48 hours of rest. Perhaps Leyland wants Laird to get a shot at Kevin Millwood at Scott Feldman Wednesday, since he has caught him.

By the way, the Tigers did not alter their lineup at all based on the Rangers’ pitching change from Vicente Padilla to Doug Mathis for tonight.

TIGERS

  1. Curtis Granderson, CF
  2. Placido Polanco, 2B
  3. Clete Thomas, LF
  4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  5. Carlos Guillen, DH
  6. Magglio Ordonez, RF
  7. Brandon Inge, 3B
  8. Ramon Santiago, 3B
  9. Dusty Ryan, C

P: Luke French

RANGERS

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  2. Michael Young, 3B
  3. Marlon Byrd, LF
  4. Nelson Cruz, RF
  5. Hank Blalock, 1B
  6. Andruw Jones, DH
  7. Josh Hamilton, CF
  8. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
  9. Elvis Andrus, SS

P: Doug Mathis

I’ll be on the, what do you call it, tweedledee, or tweedledum, or whatever, @beckjason. I kid.

Tigers won't face Vicente Padilla

The Tigers won't get to face starter Vicente Padilla, who's healthy but still weak from bout with swine flu, according to a Rangers spokesperson. RHP Doug Mathis will start in Padilla's place.

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