August 2009

Granderson gets a knuckler

Curtis Granderson has long talked about the challenge of playing the outfield at Comerica Park in day games. But Monday was a new adventure even for him.

When Granderson drifted towards left-center field on Carlos Pena’s fifth-inning line drive, he wasn’t heading that direction to make a catch. He was preparing to field it on the bounce.

“I was actually getting into position to cut the ball off,” Granderson said after the Tigers’ 11-7 loss to the Rays Monday afternoon. “I didn’t think I was going to have a chance to catch it.”

It was much to Granderson’s surprise, then, when the ball carried long enough that he would’ve had a chance to catch it. The problem was that it also hooked so sharply that it ended back in straightaway center, close to where Granderson started.

“I’ve never seen that happen before,” Granderson said. “I don’t know what happened.”

He wasn’t the only one who seemed to have trouble out there. Rays center fielder B.J. Upton had trouble tracking Aubrey Huff’s drive to center, then seemingly found it before it popped out of his glove for a two-base error. Others around the league have had problems here, too, including Torii Hunter.

The fact that Granderson has played half his games here for about four years and still has trouble says plenty about it.

“We still can’t pinpoint what it is, whether it’s about the glare or the sun,” Granderson said. “This is the only stadium where you don’t need shades to fight the sun.”

Monday: Tigers vs. Rays

Alex Avila hasn’t started a game since the last time Jarrod Washburn started, but he’s back in there today with Washburn and James Shields on the mound. With Magglio Ordonez just 2-for-10 lifetime off Shields, Clete Thomas gets the start in right field.

TIGERS

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

P: Jarrod Washburn

RAYS

  1. Jason Bartlett, SS
  2. Gabe Kapler, LF
  3. Ben Zobrist, RF
  4. Pat Burrell, DH
  5. Evan Longoria, 3B
  6. Carlos Pena, 1B
  7. Manny Aybar, 2B
  8. Dioner Navarro, C
  9. B.J. Upton, CF

P: James Shields

Tigers to call up six tomorrow, more later

Turns out the Tigers will have a few more September call-ups than manager Jim Leyland’s previous remarks would suggest. Jeremy Bonderman will be recalled from Heading up from Triple-A Toledo and activated from the disabled list. Casey Fien, Dusty Ryan and Wilkin Ramirez will be recalled. Plus, the Tigers will purchase the contract of infielder Brent Dlugach from Toledo.

To make room for Dlugach on the 40-man roster, the Tigers called up Michael Hollimon, who was on the disabled list at Double-A Erie, and immediately put him on the 60-day DL.

Armando Galarraga, meanwhile, will be recalled from Toledo on Saturday, when he’s first eligible to come back. He has to stay down there 10 days, and he was sent down last Wednesday. In the meantime, he’s scheduled to start for the Mud Hens Friday.

Leyland said there will be other moves coming once Toledo’s season ends. The remaining guys down there who are on the 40-man roster include Freddy Dolsi, Clay Rapada and Zach Simons. There’s also the possibility the Tigers could call up Jeff Larish and move him to the 60-day DL like they did with Hollimon, creating a 40-man roster spot for someone else such as Scott Sizemore or Donnie Kelly.

Dontrelle battles command in rehab outing

Dontrelle Willis walked eight batters over four-plus innings in his rehab start for Triple-A Toledo Sunday night, taking the loss against the Pirates’ Triple-A Indianapolis affiliate.

Willis, whose previous rehab outing was shortened by an injured right hip, was not in sync from the start. He walked four of the first five batters he faced, the exception in that stretch being a single, to allow two runs before a two-out single plated two more runs. He faced just one batter over the minimum over his next three innings before he walked all three batters he faced in the fifth.

Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish made the pitching change at that point. Willis threw 44 of his 99 pitches for strikes.

Inge's knee still hurting

If you were hoping Brandon Inge’s leaping grab and throw to first for the final out of Sunday’s win might be a sign that his left knee is feeling better, it’s not quite that way. Though Inge said last week that he felt like the prolotherapy injections had his knee feeling better, Inge said Sunday he’s still hurting whenever he moves around. He made that play knowing he was probably going to pay for it.

“I knew I could get up,” Inge said after the game. “It’s just one of those things where I know it’s going to be pain, so I just have to deal with it.”

So that means he was in pain after the jump, but not before? No, that wasn’t it.

“To be honest with you, anytime I’m running, jumping, throwing, I feel pain,” Inge said. “I just have to deal with it.”

Sunday: Tigers vs. Rays

Not that it was a surprise, but Gerald Laird will catch Justin Verlander in his first start since their well-publicized exchange in the visiting dugout at Angel Stadium last Monday. Though the Rays start a right-hander in Jeff Niemann, the preference holds that manager Jim Leyland wants Laird to catch Verlander because of the results, Monday’s sixth inning notwithstanding.

TIGERS

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

SP: Justin Verlander

RAYS

  1. Jason Bartlett, SS
  2. Carl Crawford, LF
  3. Ben Zobrist, RF
  4. Carlos Pena, 1B
  5. Pat Burrell, DH
  6. Evan Longoria, 3B
  7. Gregg Zaun, C
  8. Akinori Iwamura, 2B
  9. B.J. Upton, CF

P: Jeff Niemann

Dontrelle to make rehab start for Hens Sunday

Dontrelle Willis, who has been working out with Triple-A Toledo for the past month or so, is scheduled to make a rehab start for the Mud Hens Sunday against Indianapolis, as first reported by the Toledo Blade’s John Wagner. It’ll be Willis’ second try at a return to action after going on the disabled list in June with anxiety disorder. His last rehab start August 19 was cut short in the second inning with soreness in his right hip.

The Mud Hens’ regular season schedule ends Sept. 7, so Willis likely has one more rehab start left after this.

Saturday: Tigers vs. Rays

The only left-handed bat in the lineup against Rays lefty David Price is Curtis Granderson. The right-handed bats include Magglio Ordonez, who makes his fifth consecutive start and his ninth in Detroit’s last 12 games. As Tom Gage wrote in the Detroit News this morning, his status for next year looks like less and less of a debate now. One big sign of that came last night after the Tigers pulled away early; Leyland kept Ordonez in the game until his fourth plate appearance of the night, then replaced him for defense with Clete Thomas in the eighth.

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: Nate Robertson

RAYS

  1. Jason Bartlett, SS
  2. Carl Crawford, LF
  3. Ben Zobrist, CF
  4. Pat Burrell, DH
  5. Carlos Pena, 1B
  6. Evan Longoria, 3B
  7. Gabe Kapler, RF
  8. Dioner Navarro, C
  9. Akinori Iwamura, 2B

P: David Price

UMPIRES
HP: CB Bucknor
1B: Mike Everitt
2B: Brian Gorman
3B: Gerry Davis

Inge hits another homer for a kid

inge082809.jpgIf you had a chance to watch Brandon Inge tonight on his home run, there was more ink on his arms than just his new tattoos. He had the name Noah on his right forearm for a 5-year-old friend of his who’s battling cancer and just recently returned home from Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor. You can kind of see Noah’s name on Inge’s arm on the photo to the right. (thanks to the AP for the photo)

“I visited him a couple times in the hospital,” Inge said. “He’s at his home at this point, so I went out there and visited him for about two hours today. He asked me the dreaded question: He asked me if I could hit a home run for him. I told him I would definitely do my best, see what I can do. And when the ball went over the fence, man, that was awesome. That was a special moment for me.

“He deserves it. He’s a good kid.”

You might remember Inge did something similar earlier this season for a kid named Tommy who had a heart transplant. He homered that night, too, so he has a pretty good record going.

Tigers' advice for Saturday: Get here early

If you’re heading downtown for Saturday’s Tigers game against the Rays at 4pm, your best shot is to get here early. The Lions are hosting the Colts across the street at Ford Field at 1pm, so the Tigers are encouraging fans to arrive by 3pm to avoid fans leaving the Lions game. It’s a preseason game, so fans might leave early, but it’s also the third preseason game, when teams usually play their starters the longest, giving fans reason to stick around.

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