July 2009

Knapp OK after passing out on plane

Tigers pitching coach Rick Knapp was back at work for Monday’s series opener against the Rangers, but his trip to Texas was still the talk of the clubhouse after a frightening incident on the team flight.

Knapp passed out after trying to enter the restroom on the team plane, and briefly lost consciousness before head athletic trainer Kevin Rand and their staff scrambled to his aid to awaken him. An ambulance met the plane upon landing quickly at Love Field and took Knapp to a local hospital, where he stayed briefly before being released early Monday morning. The rest of the Tigers arrived at the team hotel around 2:30 a.m.

The Tigers were less than a half-hour away from Dallas when the incident happened, so emergency landing was necessary.

Knapp said he had been feeling ill before the flight and felt worse after he ate something. He also had taken Tamiflu, prescribed to all team personnel on the trip after Rangers pitcher Vicente Padilla tested positive for H1N1 Type A influenza, commonly known as swine flu.

No official diagnosis was given for what was behind Knapp’s blackout, but a heart attack or stroke were quickly ruled out. Follow-up tests showed no cause for further concern.

Knapp resumed his normal duties Monday, albeit on short rest. He was more embarrassed about the incident than anything.

Still, that embarrassment couldn’t match the concern on the part of the Tigers as they watched Rand and others trying to revive him as the plane rushed to land.

“A lot of players were upset, scared,” Leyland said.

Said reliever Bobby Seay: “It was just pandemonium there for a minute. You don’t know what was going on.”

Magglio in lineup vs. right-hander

If Jim Leyland is rewarding Magglio Ordonez for looking better at the plate, he isn’t saying. But Ordonez, who went 3-for-8 against the White Sox over the weekend and is pulling the ball better lately, is in the Tigers lineup against Rangers rookie right-hander Tommy Hunter.

Leyland’s reaction when asked about it: “That’s my lineup today.”

It bears noting that Marcus Thames went 3-for-17 over last week’s homestand, while Ryan Raburn is batting .111 (4-for-36) over his last 12 games. There’s an opportunity out of necessity.

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. Gerald Laird, C
  9. Adam Everett, SS

P: Armando Galarraga

RANGERS

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

P: Tommy Hunter

Guillen doesn't limit Tigers trade options

Posted this on the MLB.com trade blog. Probably should’ve put it up here at the same time. Oh well. …

While Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski continues in
earnest his search for a hitter on the trade market, newly-returned
Carlos Guillen’s limitations aren’t expected to limit the Tigers’ trade
options, just as his return hasn’t stopped the Tigers from shopping
around.

The normally switch-hitting Guillen, activated from the
15-day disabled list Friday after missing 2 1/2 months with an injured
right shoulder, is currently limited to batting left-handed and playing
at designated hitter until his shoulder is stronger. However, as
Dombrowski and Guillen indicated over the weekend, they don’t expect
that to last for long.

“We’re looking for a bat,” Dombrowski
said when the Tigers activated Guillen Friday. “As you start talking
with clubs in the trade [market], which we’ve been doing a lot of, a
lot of the players that are available are DHs. In our mindset, we think
we might have as good of one as anybody, not that he’s going to be
limited to DH in the long run.

“I do not know when he’s going to be ready to play [the field]. It could be a couple days. It could be longer.”

Guillen
said Saturday he thinks he’ll be able to bat right-handed before he can
play the field, but he believes he’ll be able to do both.

“We’re
being careful with the shoulder [batting] from the right-hand side,”
Dombrowski said, “but he is feeling better and better all the time on
that.”

A corner outfielder, such as Washington’s Josh
Willingham, Baltimore’s Luke Scott or Florida’s Cody Ross, would still
be an easier fit for the Tigers, who platooned Marcus Thames and Ryan
Raburn over the weekend. Even if/when Guillen can play the outfield
again, they still could benefit from using him at DH once in a while,
which was their plan when the season started. But with DH types such
Washington’s Adam Dunn and Baltimore’s Aubrey Huff still mentioned, not
to mention the potential (albeit unlikely) to grab an infielder such as
Pittsburgh’s Freddy Sanchez, the Tigers aren’t necessarily hamstrung.

While
a bat has been the primary target for the Tigers, they’ve continued to
look around on the starting pitching market beyond Roy Halladay, who
appears out of reach. At this point, they’re more likely to get someone
to slot in behind top arms Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson than a
front-line starter. With Rick Porcello struggling to get out of the
sixth inning in his last six starts, and fellow rookie Luke French
having lasted six innings only one in his four starts, the Tigers could
justifiably worry about the impact on their bullpen down the stretch.
While they can watch pitch counts with one starter through the
rotation, doing so with two is far more difficult.

The Tigers
are believed to prefer a left-hander to balance out a rotation that has
French as the lone lefty. They’ve scouted Pittsburgh, which has
left-hander Zach Duke potentially available, and they’ve been linked in
reports with fellow Pirates southpaw Tom Gorzelanny, who has been
impressive at Triple-A Indianapolis this year. The Pirates, meanwhile,
had a scout at the entire Tigers homestand last week.

Sunday: Tigers vs. White Sox

Lineups are out early for this ESPN affair. So are the game notes. What about starting the game now and showing it on tape delay? Just kidding.

TIGERS

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

P: Rick Porcello

WHITE SOX

  1. Scott Podsednik, CF
  2. Alexei Ramirez, SS
  3. Jermaine Dye, RF
  4. Jim Thome, DH
  5. Paul Konerko, 1B
  6. A.J. Pierzynski, C
  7. Carlos Quentin, LF
  8. Chris Getz, 2B
  9. Gordon Beckham, 3B

P: Clayton Richard (Just for conversation, how would he have done in Rich Rodriguez’s spread offense?)

Leyland: Glaus isn't on Tigers radar

Jim Leyland dismissed speculation about any
interest in Cardinals third baseman Troy Glaus, who is expected to hit
the trade block once he’s ready to return from his Minor League rehab
stint with Matt Holliday.

“With all due respect to Troy Glaus,
his name has never been mentioned here, to my knowledge,” Leyland said
Saturday afternoon. “Hopefully we can nip that right in the bud.”

The
Tigers are believed to be looking outside the usual outfield/DH types
in their search for their bat, but it would be easier for them to slot
in a corner outfield and allow Carlos Guillen to spend at least some
time at DH, even after his shoulder allows him to play the outfield
again.

Foxsports.com reported late Friday night that at least
four teams, including the Tigers, were expected to have a scout watch
Glaus this weekend during his rehab assignment for Double-A Springfield. Problem is, according to the report, he can’t throw further than 90 feet, which essentially would make him a full-time DH.

“We’re
not above making a trade, believe me,” Leyland said. “But it’s just
when it’s probably something like that, it’s a little more toward the
ridiculous side than the realistic side.”

Tigers aren't looking at Bradley

The Cubs might like to find a new home for Milton Bradley, but it won’t be Detroit.

The
rumor of Tigers interest in the gifted but much-maligned outfielder
began with a Twitter from White Sox broadcaster Steve Stone, then
picked up steam quickly with a report from a Chicago web site.

That
was news to the Tigers. A source with knowledge of the team’s plans
said Bradley’s name hasn’t come up in organizational discussions all
year. For a team that has been searching far and wide for offensive
help, that speaks volumes.

The reasons are numerous. Though
the Tigers lost out on Matt Holliday, there remain several outfield/DH
types on the market with better numbers and contracts than Bradley, who
entered Saturday batting .242 with six home runs and 22 RBIs and is
under contract through 2011 with $21 million over the next two years.
Even with money kicked in, it would still be a big commitment for a
player who would probably be a full-time DH again in the American
League.

While manager Jim Leyland has a reputation for working
well with players who have been labeled as difficult, he does not like
issues that distract from the team. And Bradley, justifiably or not,
would have the potential to be a major distraction.

Saturday: Tigers vs. White Sox

While Ryan Raburn is 8-for-20 lifetime against White Sox starter Gavin Floyd, Marcus Thames is 1-for-7. Thus, Raburn gets the start in left field, batting sixth behind Carlos Guillen. Other than that, it’s a pretty standard lineup for the Tigers. Interestingly, Ramon Santiago is 3-for-10 off Floyd, but two of those hits are homers.

TIGERS

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

P: Jackson

WHITE SOX

  1. Scott Podsednik, CF
  2. Alexei Ramirez, SS
  3. Jermaine Dye, RF
  4. Jim Thome, DH
  5. Paul Konerko, 1B
  6. A.J. Pierzynski, C
  7. Carlos Quentin, LF
  8. Chris Getz, 2B
  9. Gordon Beckham, 3B

P: Gavin Floyd

Reliever swap

By now, you probably know that Freddy Dolsi was optioned to Toledo between games to make room for Eddie Bonine, who was called up to start the nightcap of the doubleheader. Bonine was optioned back to Toledo after the game as planned. Casey Fien, who was closing in Toledo, is coming back up.

Fien got off to a rough start with the Mud Hens this season, but did a very good job of learning on the job and not only throwing strikes, but locating them. He’s 2-1 with a 3.61 ERA and 51 strikeouts over 47 innings for the year. In his last 10 games, however, he allowed just two earned runs on seven hits over 15 1/3 innings, walking three and fanning 19.

By rule, Dolsi has to stay down for 10 days before he can be recalled, unless he’s replacing an injured player. In this case, though, I’m not sure it’s going to matter. If Fien pitches to his capabilities, he could be a useful extra reliever in Detroit.

Bonderman headed for bullpen

The Tigers are looking at a late-season piece to bolster their bullpen. Turns out it’s Jeremy Bonderman.

It wasn’t long ago that Bonderman’s shoulder problems created serious doubts whether he could pitch again this season in the Tigers rotation. But the last few weeks, his progress has come quickly. He threw another mound session Thursday, his third, and he has another one scheduled for Saturday. No word yet on what the next step would be, but a rehab stint certainly doesn’t seem far off.

“There’s a possibility,” president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said. “And I think the possibility is more out of the bullpen than starting.”

It isn’t a permanent move, but it would be for the rest of the season. The idea, Bonderman said, would be to limit him to around 35 pitches. When Bonderman was out on his rehab assignment in May, it was when he began extending his pitch limits during his starts that his shoulder started feeling sore again.

Bonderman’s fine with that. He said he’s willing to do whatever to help the team. It’s also clear that he badly wants to pitch again as soon as possible.

The Tigers are also sounding an upbeat tone on Joel Zumaya, who is seeing how his arm responds after cortisone shots Monday in his ailing shoulder.

“If you asked today, they think he’ll be able to pitch relatively soon,” Dombrowski said.

Add those two situations together, and it looks like the Tigers will have bullpen help without turning to the trade market. Dombrowski didn’t erase the possibility of adding a reliever, but he also didn’t make it sound like a pressing need.

Guillen activated from DL

Carlos Guillen isn’t ready to bat right-handed just yet, nor he is ready to play in the field. But as a left-handed hitting DH, he’s a potential spark for the Tigers, who decided he was ready to return after his three-hit game for Triple-A Toledo Thursday night. Josh Anderson was designated for assignment to make room.

Jim Leyland said Guillen will DH both games of the doubleheader today. He’ll also hit fifth in a tweaked lineup that has Cabrera moved back to cleanup and Clete Thomas hitting third. Look for more on the site and on the blog soon.

TIGERS

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

P: Justin Verlander

WHITE SOX

  1. Dewayne Wise, CF
  2. Alexei Ramirez, SS
  3. Jermaine Dye, RF
  4. Jim Thome, DH
  5. Paul Konerko, 1B
  6. A.J. Pierzynski, C
  7. Carlos Quentin, LF
  8. Chris Getz, 2B
  9. Gordon Beckham, 3B

P: Jose Contreras

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