August 2009

Orioles claim Chris Lambert off waivers

The Baltimore Orioles claimed Chris Lambert off waivers from the Tigers Thursday. Lambert was designated for assignment Tuesday after giving up 11 runs on 12 hits over 6 2/3 innings in two appearances with Detroit. He walked six and struck out four.

Update on Dontrelle

Dontrelle Willis will be examined by a doctor in Columbus today after leaving last night’s rehab start for Triple-A Toledo after just 1 1/3 innings with a recurrence of his sore right hip. The Tigers referred Willis to Dr. Grant Jones for diagnostic testing, after which the Tigers will decide the next step for the right-hander.

Granderson sits, Polanco leads off

Wilkin Ramirez isn’t walking through the clubhouse doors today, so if the Tigers were going to give Curtis Granderson a day off today as planned, they were going to have to use somebody here. That somebody ended up being Placido Polanco, who’s batting leadoff for the first time since the season finale in 2007. Leyland confirmed he also plans on giving Granderson a second day off Friday at Oakland.

TIGERS

  1. Placido Polanco, 2B
  2. Marcus Thames, DH
  3. Ryan Raburn, LF
  4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  5. Magglio Ordonez, RF
  6. Brandon Inge, 3B
  7. Clete Thomas, CF
  8. Gerald Laird, C
  9. Adam Everett, SS

P: Jarrod Washburn

MARINERS

  1. Ichiro Suzuki, RF
  2. Franklin Gutierrez, CF
  3. Jose Lopez, 2B
  4. Mike Sweeney, DH
  5. Russell Branyan, 1B
  6. Kenji Johjima, C
  7. Jack Hannahan, 3B
  8. Jack Wilson, SS
  9. Michael Saunders, LF

P: Ryan Rowland-Smith

Granderson could sit next couple days

Though Curtis Granderson’s bat has been a concern off and on for much of the season, it’s clear that it’s a particular concern for manager Jim Leyland now. Granderson’s 0-for-4, two-strikeout game extended his hitless streak to 0-for-13 with seven strikeouts, bringing his batting average for the season back down to .254, its low point since the end of May.

Leyland came to his defense after the game, pointing out that he’s taking extra batting practice every day now, including the last couple days since Monday’s off-day. So far, it hasn’t quite clicked, and Leyland sounded like a manager who thinks his leadoff hitter and offensive catalyst might be pressing.

“I’m thinking about getting him out of there tomorrow against the left-hander,” Leyland said, referring to Mariners lefty starter Ryan Rowland-Smith. “I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I’ll probably get him a day off, maybe two days off.”

The second day off, if it happens, would be against another left-handed starter with Oakland’s
Gio Gonzalez slated to pitch Friday’s series opener out west.

The last time Leyland gave Granderson a day off, the Tigers called up Wilkin Ramirez from Triple-A Toledo for a day and started the right-handed hitting prospect in left to help pull it off. He probably doesn’t have that luxury this time, and it’s hard to see him sitting Granderson without starting another left-handed hitter in his place, whether it’s Clete Thomas in the outfield or Aubrey Huff at DH.

Dontrelle leaves rehab start

According to both the Mud Hens radio broadcast and the milb.com Gameday application, Dontrelle Willis left his rehab start for Triple-A Toledo tonight at Columbus in the second inning with an apparent right knee injury. Working to find out what happened, though Gameday says it was a knee injury. He gave up a run on a hit over 1 1/3 innings with a walk and a strikeout, so it wasn’t a performance matter. Willis threw 24 pitches, 13 for strikes.

UPDATE: Both the Hens radio broadcast and others in Columbus are saying it looked like a right knee injury for Dontrelle, who seemed to be favoring it as he pitched.

Magglio back in RF, Huff stays at DH

As Jim Leyland forecast last night, Magglio Ordonez is in the lineup batting sixth against Ian Snell, off whom he’s 3-for-6. But while Leyland pondered possibly switching up Carlos Guillen and Aubrey Huff, putting Huff in left field and Guillen DH, Leyland thought better of it today.

Gerald Laird is in the lineup to catch Justin Verlander, the one starter whom Leyland doesn’t want Alex Avila catching quite yet. He likes the roll that Verlander and Laird has gotten onto and he doesn’t want to disrupt that at the moment. Eventually, however, count on Avila catching Verlander at some point.

“He’ll catch everybody before it’s over,” Leyalnd said. “I didn’t say he’ll catch every day before it’s over. But if that bat stays like that, it’ll be hard to keep him out of the lineup.”

TIGERS

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

P: Justin Verlander

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. Kenji Johjima, C
  8. Michael Saunders, LF
  9. Josh Wilson, SS

P: Ian Snell

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.”

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