September 14th, 2009

Ernie Harwell to visit Comerica Park

Hall of Fame broadcaster and Tigers icon Ernie Harwell will visit Comerica Park to meet with the team and thank fans for their support on Wednesday night, when the Tigers host Kansas City.

Harwell, who revealed earlier this month that he has been diagnosed with inoperable cancer of the bile duct, plans to visit with players, media members and friends before the 7:05 p.m. ET game. He’ll take an opportunity to thank fans at some point during the game, though it will not come in a formal ceremony in accordance with his wishes, according to a Tigers spokesperson.

The team has had an open invitation for Harwell to visit ever since he retired from play-by-play broadcasting after the 2002 season, and he has visited several times. At least a couple players, Brandon Inge and Ramon Santiago, were on the team during Harwell’s final season as the Tigers’ radio voice.

More recently, the club invited him to come out if he wished and felt up to it after his diagnosis. At this point in his battle with cancer, Harwell is strong and moving around well.

“He wants to thank the fans for their love and support and gratitude,” Tigers vice president of communications Ron Colangelo said.

Harwell has received countless messages of support from fans since he went public with the diagnosis. The day the news came out, he said, his phone was ringing non-stop. His representative, S. Gary Spicer, also said he has received hundreds of messages at his office.

Monday: Tigers vs. Blue Jays

If you saw the lineup from Sunday, and the lineup from Friday, you know the lineup for tonight.

TIGERS

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

P: Justin Verlander

BLUE JAYS

  1. Marco Scutaro, SS
  2. Aaron Hill, 2B
  3. Adam Lind, DH
  4. Vernon Wells, CF
  5. Lyle Overbay, 1B
  6. Edwin Encarnacion, 3B
  7. Jose Bautista, RF
  8. Jason Phillips, C
  9. Travis Snider, LF

P: David Purcey

Ordonez about to hit the mark

If there was any doubt out there that Magglio Ordonez was going to get the eight plate appearances that would vest his $18 million option for next season — and if you were, I’m not sure why — manager Jim Leyland erased that Monday by stating the obvious.

“Yeah, he’s going to get it,” Leyland said.

Ordonez’s contract, which he signed as a free agent in January 2005, includes the option year for 2010 that becomes automatic if Ordonez hits one of four different playing time marks. The one he’ll hit is 1,080 plate appearances in 2008-09. He entered Monday with 1,072, and he’s in the lineup batting third Monday against Blue Jays lefty David Purcey.

Ordonez didn’t want to say much about it, but he admitted it’ll be nice to get it done and be able to focus on the final two-plus weeks of the season.

“You know where you’re going to be next year,” Ordonez told MLB.com.

Until now, neither Ordonez nor the team has really said much about the option, save for a few remarks from Dave Dombrowski that he lets Leyland make out the daily lineup without regard to contracts. While it’s hard to say how big of a distraction it has been on a first-place team, there’s no doubt it has been like a giant elephant in the Tigers clubhouse.

Ordonez is batting .500 (17-for-34) this month, raising his average to a .294 for the year. He has a realistic chance at his fourth .300 season in five years as a Tiger, a pretty big accomplishment considering where he sat at the season’s midway point. He has been one of the Tigers’ best hitters this month, and the next step Leyland hopes to see is more extra-base power to add in some run production.

“He’s hitting the ball hard now,” Leyland said, “and I’m hoping some of them turn into gappers.”

Rodney suspension reduced to two games

Fernando Rodney will serve a two-game suspension starting tonight after his appeal was heard by phone today.

Rodney’s suspension was originally three games for throwing a ball that landed in the press box at Tropicana Field Sept. 4. Though he got a game taken off of that, his fine remains at $3,000.

Rodney can work out with the team before the game and throw on the side, but he can’t be in the dugout or the clubhouse once the game starts. Most likely, he’ll be watching the games from one of the suites that his teammates have.

Rodney already warmed up for ninth

Once again, Fernando Rodney made an appearance in a non-save situation, where the stats show he struggles mightily compared with save opportunities. But to understand why the Tigers did it, keep in mind that Detroit had just a two-run lead before tacking on three runs in the bottom of the eighth as Rodney warmed up. By the time the Tigers had put the game out of reach, manager Jim Leyland, Rodney had already put in the warm-ups to be ready to pitch.

“It was a close game when I brought [Brandon] Lyon in,” Leyland said, “and then you’ve got Rodney warmed up. He had one inning [available] today. That’s all he had. But after he’s all warmed up and everything, you might as well pitch him. It’s like he pitched if you sit him down then, so go ahead and use him. If I had known at the beginning of the inning we were going to get some runs, obviously I’d have used somebody else in the ninth. But you can’t count on that.”

The non-save situation would also explain Rodney’s subdued reaction after the game. He never celebrates much after a win that wasn’t that close. I doubt it had anything to do with the ball in the stands from nine days ago, even though that was the first win he had finished off since then.

Leyland expects he’ll probably try to rest both Rodney and Lyon Monday. Fortunately for him, Justin Verlander works very well into that scenario.

Other notes:

  • Brent Dlugach made his Major League debut Sunday as a pinch-runner, replacing Aubrey Huff in the eighth inning and scoring.
  • Sunday’s win pushed this year’s Tigers in the tie with the 2006 team for the most home wins in a season (46) since the club moved into Comerica Park in 2000. These Tigers still have 11 games to go at home before the regular season ends.
  • On the day the Lions opened their season with a loss at New Orleans, we note with others that Sunday marked the Tigers’ 150th victory since the Lions last won a game. The Tigers won 74 last year, and this was their 76th win of this season.
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