August 2009

Friday: Tigers vs. Rays

Magglio Ordonez is 7-for-14 off Rays starter Matt Garza, so he’s back in the lineup in right field, batting just in front of Cabrera. The one other intriguing note was Gerald Laird catching Rick Porcello instead of Alex Avila, even against the right-handed starter.

Actually, the other intriguing note was the weather, since it’s going to be raining here for a while. We’ll see what impact that has on the game, but it’s eventually going to clear, so we’ll be playing tonight. Whether or not it’s delayed remains to be seen.

TIGERS

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

P: Rick Porcello

RAYS

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

P: Matt Garza

Wednesday: Tigers at Angels

After thinking it over, manager Jim Leyland opted to start Curtis Granderson Wednesday against Angels left-hander Joe Saunders. He’s on a hot streak in a ballpark where he hits very well (8 HRs in 20 career games at Angel Stadium) and where the ball can fly on day games, so it’s as good of a situation as any for him. On the other hand, while Aubrey Huff is 8-for-18 lifetime off Saunders, he’s in an 0-for-13 skid and a 1-for-16 road trip.

One factor to keep in mind today: It’s hot. Really hot. As mentioned, the ball usually carries well in day games here anyway, so that’s a factor. The Tigers had a note up in the clubhouse to drink plenty of water.

TIGERS

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

P: Edwin Jackson

ANGELS

  1. Chone Figgins, 3B
  2. Bobby Abreu, RF
  3. Torii Hunter, CF
  4. Vladimir Guerrero, DH
  5. Kendry Morales, 1B
  6. Maicer Izturis, 2B
  7. Erick Aybar, SS
  8. Mike Napoli, C
  9. Gary Matthews Jr., LF

P: Joe Saunders

Galarraga to Toledo, Robertson to start Saturday

Nate Robertson is returning to the Detroit Tigers to start. Armando Galarraga is heading to Triple-A Toledo to basically recuperate.

The Tigers announced Wednesday that they’ve optioned Galarraga to the Mud Hens for what is expected to be a 10-day stay, the minimum required for a player optioned out unless he replaces an injured player. The right-hander was scratched from his scheduled start for Detroit Friday with inflammation in his throwing elbow.

Taking his place while he’s out will be Robertson, who will make his first Major League start in over almost a full year. The veteran left-hander, who spent the first half of the season in the Tigers bullpen before going on the DL for surgery to remove tissue masses from his left elbow.

Robertson will be activated from the disabled list and start against the Rays on Saturday. Rookie Rick Porcello, who was originally scheduled to pitch Saturday, will be moved up to pitch in Galarraga’s old spot Friday.

Galarraga’s inflammation is not expected to be serious. Since rosters will have been expanded beyond 25 players by the time he’s eligible to be recalled, the Tigers won’t need to make a return move to make room for him when he’s ready. If it works out as planned, it’ll be a shorter absence than if the Tigers had placed him on the DL.

Laird puts Verlander matter behind him

When Gerald Laird met up with family members after Monday’s game, he didn’t tell his dad about the, well, animated discussion he had with Justin Verlander in the Tigers dugout in the sixth inning. Then he tuned into Sportscenter. So much for that.

“He didn’t know it happened, and then everyone sees it,” Laird said. “Honestly, I didn’t think it was going to be on [the ESPN broadcast]. It was just one of those things where I thought I was right and [Verlander] thought he was right, we discussed it and after the game we shook hands.”

 Laird’s views on the matter sounded much like that of Verlander Monday night, that it was emotions of the game catching up with them and spilling out in public view when they shouldn’t have. And now, it’s over.

“It escalated probably more than it needed to,” Laird said. “If it wasn’t the ESPN game, I don’t think anyone would’ve seen it. It was just one of those things that got caught on TV. I’m sure we’ll talk about it today, but we shook hands [last night]. We’re friends. We have dinner together all the night. It’s just one of those misunderstandings.”

Laird said what sparked it came not from pitch selections, but from a point during the sixth when Laird tried to walk out to the mound.

“It was when we went out there and he called me halfway,” Laird said. “That was the disagreement right there, just on signs, I think it was. That’s it. He just mentioned something. He’s a competitor. You don’t like to get hit around. I’m sure he got frustrated and went to the dugout. I was frustrated because I want him to do the best he can. I don’t want him to give up runs, get hit around. It’s just one of those things in the heat of the moment. That’s it.”

Tuesday: Tigers at Angels

Not much of a change in the lineup save for Alex Avila behind the plate. That has nothing to do with last night. Instead, it’s a matter of Avila having worked with Washburn and getting him in against the right-hander John Lackey. Gerald Laird will be back at catcher Wednesday against lefty Joe Saunders.

TIGERS

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

P: Jarrod Washburn

Larish to have season-ending surgery

UPDATED @ 5:25 PT: If you were looking ahead to Jeff Larish returning to Detroit for a September call-up and a lefty power bat off the bench for the Tigers, well, it won’t be happening. In case you missed it, John Wagner of The Blade in Toledo had the scoop this morning that Larish will have season-ending surgery on his right wrist and hand:

Larish, who had been playing with a wrist injury
before injuring his hand during the team’s series in Columbus, will
leave the team today.

Tigers head athletic trainer Kevin Rand confirmed the surgery, which will be on Larish’s wrist. It’ll be performed in Arizona by Dr. Donald Sheridan, who performed a previous wrist surgery on Larish. They don’t know the extent of the injury yet, but even if it isn’t severe, he won’t have enough time left in the season to get back to action.

Rand said Larish had the injury checked out around the All-Star break in mid-July (the breaks run concurrently between Triple-A and the Majors) but nothing at that point suggested surgery. He played through it and obviously suffered — a .247 average after the break, just .185 in August and a 5-for-36 skid over his final 10 games.

The timetable for a return won’t be known until they figure out what’s wrong in there, so there’s no certainty yet whether this affects any offseason plans. He played an awful lot last offseason between the Arizona Fall League and winter ball, trying to get back up to speed at third base.

Tigers AFL selections announced

Rosters were released today for the Arizona Fall League, and the Tigers will have six prospects playing for longtime Tigers coach/instructor Kevin Bradshaw with the Peoria Javelinas. Thad Weber, fresh off his no-hitter last week for Double-A Erie, will join relievers Robbie Weinhardt and Cody Satterwhite on the Peoria pitching staff. On the positional side, Ryan Strieby will take his hot bat to Arizona to continue his work in the outfield, while second baseman Scott Sizemore will head back to the AFL for a repeat campaign and shortstop Cale Iorg will join him.

It’s an interesting group, because you can look at almost all these guys as having a chance to contribute in Detroit at some point next year.

Monday: Magglio bats third

First and foremost, I want to thank all of you who submitted your thoughts on what the Tigers meant to Detroit and to Michigan in these times. The responses, and the thought put into them, have really been amazing. The story is scheduled to run on Wednesday. I can’t get all the responses into there, unfortunately, and some really good ones probably won’t fit in and still hit the story length I have, but I hope you like the ones that do run. Even those that haven’t made it have prompted the kind of thought that I believe makes the story better.

Now, onto the game. Magglio Ordonez is batting third tonight, part of manager Jim Leyland’s effort to shuffle the order a bit and get some offense going. Part of the thought process is that if Magglio is going to hit well but not for much power, might as well try to get him on base ahead of their bigger hitters. He’s also 5-for-8 lifetime off Jered Weaver.

Leyland said he also planned to talk with Brandon Inge today and try to figure out what they can do to get him going again.

“I want him in there,” Leyland said, “but you have to try something.”

Inge said the prolotherapy they tried a week ago has been working, that his knee feels better. Now, he said, it’s a matter of getting his timing back at the plate. “I’ve been swinging without my legs for basically the last 2 1/2 months,” he said.

TIGERS

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

P: Justin Verlander

ANGELS

  1. Chone Figgins, 3B
  2. Bobby Abreu, RF
  3. Torii Hunter, CF
  4. Vladimir Guerrero, DH
  5. Juan Rivera, LF
  6. Kendry Morales, 1B
  7. Maicer Izturis, 2B
  8. Mike Napoli, C
  9. Erick Aybar, SS

P: Jered Weaver

What do Tigers mean to Detroit?

I’m off this weekend, back on for the Angels series, but I’m also working on a story for next week on what the Tigers and this season in particular mean to the Detroit area and to Michigan given the tough times. And after getting some input from all around, I figured I’d throw the idea out to readers here, since we have seem to have a pretty loyal, steady group.

Are the Tigers a diversion for people while they get through a miserable economy and an area trying to rebuild? If it is, is it something about the Tigers in particular that makes it so or is it more about Detroit sports in general? And how much are you able to follow the Tigers compared with past years? If you have views on this, I’d be interested in hearing them and maybe using some of them in my story. You can drop me an email at jason.beck@mlb.com. Please add your name and your hometown. You have my gratitude for reading, but you already knew that.

- Jason Beck

Wild week and a half for Miner

Eight days ago, Zach Miner walked into the visiting clubhouse at Fenway Park and found out he was the Tigers’ emergency starter. Eighty-two pitches on day’s rest followed.

Two days ago, Miner was flying back home to Florida to be with his wife for the birth of their second son, Jackson. Mother and baby are doing fine, by the way.

Yesterday, Miner was sitting in the airport at West Palm Beach for five hours while a maintenance crew drove down a spare landing tire from Orlando to put on the plane that would eventually fly him back home. He was worried he’d get in trouble for not getting back to the team in time for Wednesday’s game.

“I was actually more stressed sitting in the airport yesterday,” Miner said. “That was as stressful as anything.”

Today, Miner was quietly a hero in the Tigers’ comeback victory. His two hitless innings after the Mariners scored six runs off Jarrod Washburn gave Detroit a chance to eventually erase the deficit, not to mention, get back to the plate quickly.

Manager Jim Leyland, for one, appreciated it. He has been flustered by Miner at various times, but this wasn’t one of them.

“I wish Zach Miner would realize what a valuable piece he is,” Leyland said, “and I wish he understood how valuable we think he is. He’s a big part, an important part, as is [Fu-Te] Ni. I can’t pitch Perry and Lyon and Seay every day. Today, he was tremendous.”

For his first game outing since that spot start last Wednesday, he was remarkably solid.

Miner arrived at the park in time for extra innings if they happened, but it ended up a moot point. With Justin Verlander on the mound, the Tigers were fine without heavy bullpen use. But just to get his arm fresh, Miner played catch after the game.

Once a 58-minute rain delay Thursday ensured Washburn would’ve last past the sixth inning, those throws came up big for Miner, who hit the strike zone with 17 of his 26 pitches and reached just one three-ball count.

“I felt pretty sharp throwing in the bullpen,” Miner said. “I think throwing last night helped me out a lot.”

As for Leyland’s comments, Miner appreciated them. He hasn’t been shy about his desire to be a Major League starter, and the roller coaster he went on in Spring Training and into April was a rough one for that. Now that he’s in the bullpen, he has far from a defined role, everywhere from mopup to occasional setup to, in Thursday’s case, protecting a one-run deficit.

In his case, it’s nice to be valued.

“I think sometimes you overlook it,” Miner said, “because you sometimes think some people have more important roles than you.”

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