August 2nd, 2009
Carlos Guillen still isn’t close to switch-hitting again, but he’s getting pretty close to switching from designated hitter to the Tigers’ left fielder.
A day after Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Guillen felt like he was “about ready to go out in left field,” Guillen said he thinks he can be out there by the end of the week, a move that would give the Tigers a chance at more flexibility.
The encouragement for Guillen comes from feeling a lot more flexibility in his throwing shoulder, which had kept him out with inflammation since early May until he come off the disabled list little more than a week ago.
Throwing drills, Guillen said, are going well.
“I feel a lot better throwing,” he said.
As for switch-hitting, he can swing a bat right-handed and feel fine, but he hasn’t yet progressed to hitting pitches from the right side.
It’s a twist compared with the expectation from a week ago that Guillen would switch-hit before he plays in the field, but the Tigers will take it. They lost a left-handed hitter in Josh Anderson when they made room for Guillen on the roster July 24, leaving Clete Thomas as the only left-handed bat as a corner outfielder. For the most part, Marcus Thames and Ryan Raburn have been platooning in left.
Whether that might prompt the Tigers to resume their pursuit another hitter on the trade market could be an interesting side effect. President/general manager Dave Dombrowski said they primarily focused on corner outfielders as far as bats go leading up to the trade deadline because they weren’t sure when Guillen could come back.
Players have to clear waivers before they’re traded now, but by freeing up the DH slot on more days, that opens up the field of hitters from which the Tigers could look.
Tigers pitchers Jeremy Bonderman and Nate Robertson will begin their Minor League rehab assignments at Triple-A Toledo Tuesday night.
Robertson is scheduled to throw two or three innings, or about 40 pitches. Bonderman will follow with one inning, or about 25 pitches. With that, they’ll begin what is expected to be a lengthy rehab process to build up their arms before they rejoin the Tigers for late-season call-ups in the bullpen.
Robertson said Friday, after both of them threw in a simulated game, that the goal was to be ready at the end of August, right around the time active rosters expand from 25 players to up to 40. But given manager Jim Leyland’s reaction, that shouldn’t be taken to mean that they’ll be shuffled off to the back of the bullpen for token work.
“I think there’s a strong possibility,” Leyland said, “that both of them, in some way shape or form, at some point, for the rest of the season could be very important for us. But they have to get back to pitching shape. I want them to be pumped up. I think they’re both pumped up right now. I think that’s a wonderful thing. But you still have to go out and do it and get back into a routine.”
That will be the focus for them. While they’ll be groomed for relief roles when they get to Detroit, the Tigers still want to stretch them out and make sure their arms are strong enough to handle the workload. That proved to be a problem with Bonderman when he tried to come back earlier this year, culminating in a rough outing against the White Sox in early June.
So far, that has been Bonderman’s lone outing as a Tiger this year. He missed the start of the season with lingering shoulder problems after last summer’s surgery to correct a circulatory problem.
Robertson opened the season in the bullpen, but eventually complained of elbow trouble in June. He had surgery about five weeks ago to remove four tissue masses from the elbow area, where they were believed to be interfering with a nerve and restricting his throwing motion.
Suffice it to say, this is a huge game for the Tigers when you look at the schedule coming up. With the bullpen spent and no off-day coming up until Aug. 17, they need a deep, effective outing from Armando Galarraga. It would give them a chance to take the series, and it would help Jim Leyland get his bullpen back in order.
Polanco, as Leyland planned, is getting a day off for rest. Raburn gets the start in LF trying to build off of last night. Just to keep on your radar, Carlos Guillen said this morning that he hopes to be able to play the outfield by the end of the upcoming week.
- Granderson, CF
- Santiago, 2B
- Thomas, RF
- Cabrera, 1B
- Guillen, DH
- Raburn, LF
- Inge, 3B
- Laird, C
- Everett, SS
P: Armando Galarraga
- Grady Sizemore, CF
- Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
- Shin-Soo Choo, RF
- Jhonny Peralta, 3B
- Travis Hafner, DH
- Luis Valbuena, 2B
- Andy Marte, 1B
- Trevor Crowe, LF
- Kelly Shoppach, C
P: Carl Pavano