August 18th, 2009

Tigers to get by with short bullpen

As pointed out earlier, the Tigers’ move to make room for Aubrey Huff on the 25-man roster was to go a man short in the bullpen, optioning reliever Eddie Bonine to Triple-A Toledo. That leaves the Tigers with six relievers and an 11-man pitching staff. In the past, Leyland has said he would rather to with 13 pitchers than 11.

The way Leyland made it sound, however, it probably won’t be a long-term move.

“We’ll play that by ear,” Leyland said. “This could be a day-to-day thing.”

It won’t be something that lingers past August, since the Tigers will have an expanded roster Sept. 1. But that probably isn’t what Leyland means. With Casey Fien, Freddy Dolsi and Clay Rapada still on the 40-man roster, plus Nate Robertson and Jeremy Bonderman on rehab assignments, Detroit has enough available pitchers to shuttle back and forth if need be whenever Leyland feels like he needs that extra arm.

Players who are optioned to the Minors must remain there for at least 10 days before being recalled to the big leagues, barring an injury replacement.

That said, Bonine didn’t pitch at all after coming up from Toledo last Friday, and Chris Lambert was barely pressed into action. So it’s not like the spot for the last reliever in the bullpen was that valuable recently.

Huff batting fifth at DH, Guillen in LF

I know there was a lot of speculation that Aubrey Huff could slot into the third spot, but for now, Huff will hit fifth and give Miguel Cabrera some protection. Cabrera, for one, appears to be a big fan of that.

“I just felt that’s the way it best matched up,” manager Jim Leyland said. “I don’t know if it’ll stay that way.”

As far as where Huff will play, we’ll see. But Leyland felt comfortable enough with Guillen and his throwing arm to give him a shot in left field tonight, his first game in the outfield since going on the DL in early May with his inflamed right shoulder.

“He told me he could play left field before,” Leyland said, “so I just put him out there tonight. I probably wouldn’t have before we got Huff.”

TIGERS

  1. Curtis Granderson, CF
  2. Placido Polanco, 2B
  3. Carlos Guillen, LF
  4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  5. Aubrey Huff, DH
  6. Clete Thomas, RF
  7. Brandon Inge, 3B
  8. Alex Avila, C
  9. Adam Everett, SS

P: Rick Porcello

MARINERS

  1. Ichiro Suzuki, RF
  2. Russell Branyan, 1B
  3. Jose Lopez, 2B
  4. Ken Griffey Jr., DH
  5. Franklin Gutierrez, CF
  6. Jack Hannahan, 3B
  7. Rob Johnson, C
  8. Ryan Langerhans, LF
  9. Jack Josh Wilson, SS

P: Felix Hernandez

Tigers option Bonine to Toledo

The Tigers decided to go a pitcher short in the bullpen for a little while to make room for Aubrey Huff. Detroit optioned Eddie Bonine to Triple-A Toledo. We'll see how they cope.

Follow-up notes from Tigers draft

How late did the Tigers go in their draft talks Monday night? According to scouting director David Chadd, “It went as far as 11:55.”

In other words, they wrapped up things with five minutes to go. That was mainly dotting i’s and crossing t’s on sixth-rounder Daniel Fields, who agreed to turn pro with only a couple hours to go. The fact that it took that long to wrap up everything means the Tigers, while hoping Fields would join them, weren’t all that sure he would.

“Really, truly, it was 50-50 right up until the end,” Chadd said.

Fields’ dad, Bruce Fields, talked about the decision on a Tigers conference call this morning.

“Ultimately, we left the decision up to him,” Fields said. “At the very beginning, and I’ll be honest and frank, we wanted him to go to school, because we know how tough the road can be personally, but we left the decision up to him. i wanted him to make a decision he could live with. Now, it becomes Team Daniel.”

Likewise, first-rounder Jacob Turner talked about making his decision. Considering the Tigers made the move to designate Chris Lambert’s contract for assignment before the Mud Hens’ game Monday night, his negotiation didn’t go quite so late.

“Obviously, the whole time i was pretty committed to going to school, and North Carolina is a great school,” Turner said. “But in the end, the Tigers showed their commitment to me, and that they really have a commitment to me in their future plans.”

For Oliver, returning to Oklahoma State didn’t sound like quite as much of a consideration.

“That was an option,” Oliver said, “but overall, I weighed it out with my dad and my advisers, and I thought it was a better decision to start my pro career at this time.”

And again, team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski explained his organizational philosophy behind drafting regardless of signability and going above slot.

“We believed all along that we are trying to take the best players we possibly  can in the draft,” Dombrowski said. “We always sit down and discuss what the signability of the players may be. And Mr. [Ilitch] is always in the loop. But it’s a situation whwere we have always followed trying to take the best players we possibly can. We’re aggressive in this area.”

Willis' rehab now on hold; Lambert designated

Word from the Tigers earlier in the day was that Dontrelle Willis had his rehab start at Triple-A Toledo pushed back from Monday to Wednesday due to hip soreness. Now, Willis apparently won’t be starting Wednesday, either. His rehab stint is now on hold with his sore hip.

Meanwhile, just when you figured the draft wouldn’t affect the Mud Hens just yet, it cost them their scheduled Tuesday starter, too. The Tigers designated Chris Lambert’s contract for assignment Monday, presumably to make room for Jacob Turner on the 40-man roster. Because Turner signed a Major League deal, he immediately goes on the 40-man, even though he won’t be pitching in games for a while. We know it wasn’t to make room for Aubrey Huff, because the Tigers announced they moved Joel Zumaya to the 60-day DL for that.

The way things are going at Triple-A Toledo, they might need a pitcher or two from last week’s tryout camp before long. Because they just lost their scheduled starters for the next two nights.

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