August 8th, 2009
Tigers manager Jim Leyland has been on the opposing side of John Smoltz more times than he cares to remember as a manager. He knows the rumor mill will percolate suggesting that the 42-year-old right-hander should close out his Major League career where it should’ve started in Detroit, where Smoltz was a top prospect more than 20 years old before going to Atlanta in the Doyle Alexander trade in 1987.
But sentimentality is not going to get the Tigers to make a move.
“I’m not getting into all that stuff,” Leyland said Saturday. “Evidently, at this particular time, in my opinion, possibly the best big-game pitcher of all-time and one of my all-time favorites is just struggling, and they decided to designate him. That’s all I know about it.”
Leyland went on to call Smoltz “the best postseason pitcher I’ve ever seen,” a compliment to the way the Lansing, Mich. native pitched against the Pirates in the 1991 and ’92 NLCS on his way to a 15-4 career playoff record.
“I don’t know John that well,” Leyland said, “but I have the utmost respect for him.”
He also doesn’t know the situation with Smoltz’s struggles this year in Boston, which has 10 days to make a move and either trade Smoltz, let him go somewhere on waivers, or simply release him. But he knows that before anyone can speculate on Smoltz pitching anywhere again, Smoltz has to make a decision himself.
“It’s sad, and I don’t know this, but sometimes it’s time to go. I don’t know if that’s the case with John or not. Obviously he’s struggled. You hate to see that. I don’t know him that well, but I know the competitive spirit that I saw for all those years. I would doubt very much that John Smoltz would want to hang around if he can’t compete. Now, maybe he still can. I’m not saying he can’t.”
Nate Robertson’s second rehab outing for Triple-A Toledo saw the left-hander hit for five runs (just two earned) on four hits over 1 2/3 innings with a walk and three strikeouts against Gwinnett, the Braves’ Triple-A affiliate. A leadoff fielding error rendered three of Gwinnett’s four second-inning runs unearned against Robertson, who threw 32 of his 51 pitches for strikes. That was right around the Tigers’ target of 45-50 pitches for him.
Robertson was started on three days’ rest after throwing around 40 pitches Tuesday. From here on out, he’ll be on a standard schedule of starting every five games or every five days.
The Tigers have their annual celebration tonight. We have a package of stories on the site that we’ve been running this week about how some of the prominent Latin American Tigers got into baseball and got to the big leagues, and the challenges they faced along the way, so feel free to peruse on tigers.com.
Magglio is back in the lineup again, batting sixth against the Tigers’ new longtime nemesis (at least he sure seems like it) Carl Pavano. If you notice the numbers, the Tigers actually have gotten their fair share of hits against Pavano this year, but haven’t been able to turn them into runs. Cabrera is 1-for-9 off Pavano for his career, and Guillen is 0-for-6, but Inge is 3-for-8 against him this year, Thomas is 3-for-7, Granderson is 4-for-11 and Everett is 5-for-18.
- Curtis Granderson, CF
- Placido Polanco, 2B
- Clete Thomas, LF
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B
- Carlos Guillen, DH
- Magglio Ordonez, RF
- Brandon Inge, 3B
- Gerald Laird, C
- Adam Everett, SS
P: Justin Verlander
- Denard Span, CF
- Orlando Cabrera, SS
- Joe Mauer, C
- Justin Morneau, 1B
- Jason Kubel, DH
- Michael Cuddyer, RF
- Delmon Young, LF
- Nick Punto, 3B
- Alexi Casilla, 2B
P: Carl Pavano
Fox Sports Detroit and cable provider Comcast announced Friday the launch of Tigers On Demand, a feature on local Comcast systems that will allow fans to watch the most recent Tigers game on demand in its entirety whenever they want, as well as original Tigers programming from FSN Detroit.
The service, free to local Comcast Digital Cable subscribers,allows fans the chance to watch the Tigers on their own timetable. The highlight of the package is the ability to watch the most recent Tigers game in its entirety, from the time it becomes available — usually around two hours after the game ended, according to FSN Detroit’s Tim Bryant — until the next game is played.
Viewers can watch the game with DVR-like controls, rewinding, fast-forwarding and pausing from their remote. They can also watch a selection of other Tigers programming, including the Tigers Weekly special on the late Mark Fidrych from earlier this season, and past interviews from legends such as Al Kaline and Willie Horton, while the Tigers and Comcast try to bring in additional content as the season rolls on.
“With the launch of FOX Sports Detroit: Tigers On Demand, we’re bringing our customers across Michigan access to the Tigers like they’ve never experienced before,” said Tom Coughlin, FSN Detroit senior vice president for Michigan.
Access to the programming works much like any other On Demand progams. Fans can go to the Channel 1 On Demand, click on Get Local, then find FS Tigers, then scroll down to the list to find the particular game.
The move is a new one for Comcast and FSN Detroit with the Tigers, though it’s one in which they’ve partnered before on other sports. FSN usually shows Tigers games soon after they wrap up, sometimes multiple times in one setting. Comcast estimates that viewers have watched more than 12 billion programs since the launch of On Demand programming in 2003, with sports and health/fitness items among the most popular.