March 10th, 2010

Granderson plays down playing with contacts

One of the big follow-up questions about the Curtis Granderson trade
back in December was the eye exam the Yankees had him take following the
trade, and the prescription contacts he’s now wearing.

Yes, his
test results over the winter showed his eyesight at 20/30. But even with
his well-chronicled struggles against lefties, Granderson didn’t feel
the difference.

“With [the
contacts] on, nothing different has changed visually for me yet, at
least not to my knowledge,” Grandreson said. “Now. I still have to get
some night games in. I have to get some twilight games in, double-deck
stadiums, different backdrops to see if there is any difference. But I
remember the eye doctor in Chicago saying, ‘If we didn’t get you into
contacts, you honestly really wouldn’t notice a difference. Once we
finally do, it’s going to tweak things up for you just a little bit.’”

Granderson said his eyes have usually been about 20/25 since high school, and the feeling has always been that if it’s not bothering him, they’re not going to correct it. The Yankees were the one who wanted them checked.

“If they didn’t say anything, I was probably going to stay the same way,” he said.

Turner hard to hit in first formal spring outing

Remember this about Jacob Turner’s first official outing of Spring Training: The Yankees couldn’t put the ball in play against him, including Mark Teixeira, who struck out with the bases loaded and two outs.

How did they end up with bases loaded, you ask? Well, that was interesting, too.

Turner’s debut Wednesday didn’t come with anywhere near the hype surrounding Stephen Strasburg’s first start a day earlier, and probably not as much anticipation as Rick Porcello’s first outing two years ago, but it didn’t get overlooked. If it somehow did, he certainly created some anticipation for his first pro season.

An inside pitch that grazed Jorge Vazquez, plus walks to ex-Tiger Curtis Granderson and Nick Johnson, loaded the bases with two outs and Teixeira at the plate. Incredibly, Turner gathered himself and worked Teixeira into a situation for a strikeout.

To Turner, it wasn’t so much a matter of calming down, because he felt he was calm.

“I was confident the whole time,” he said after his outing. “Even when I had the bases loaded, when I was walking guys, I wasn’t missing by a whole lot. I was just missing a little bit here and a little bit there. I was confident that I could go out there and throw strikes and hopefully get guys out, and that’s what happened.”

He was the third strikeout of the inning for Turner, and by far the biggest. Former Tiger Mike Rivera and Ramiro Pena were Turner’s other two victims.

How big was Teixeira’s strikeout? By leaving runners on base, Turner became the only Tigers pitcher on the day to not give up runs.

Turner is doing a very good job of not being awed by the situation. A year ago at this point, he was still in high school getting ready for his senior season. Now, he’s already Detroit’s top pitching prospect, according to some publications depending on how they rank Casey Crosby, before Turner even throws a regular-season pitch.

How he was able to get swings and misses from one of the more selective teams in baseball these days was all the more impressive.

“These guys aren’t going to swing at a lot of bad pitches,” Turner said. “You’re going to have to throw it over the plate if they’re going to swing at it. That’s a complement to them, really.”
 

Leyland drops hint on backup catcher

Next to filling out the rotation, Jim Leyland said today that deciding on a backup catcher is his top priority. And though Leyland said he hasn’t decided on one yet, he dropped a pretty good hint on Alex Avila’s chances.

When asked how much playing time will weigh into the decision, Leyland said, “That will be one of the factors, but not a sole factor. We’re going to do what we feel is the best thing for the Detroit Tigers right now. Sometimes you can have your cake and eat it, too.”

The key terms in that is “right now.” The big question with Avila’s chances has been whether he’d be better off learning as the understudy in Detroit this year or honing his skills by catching everyday at Triple-A Toledo. The latter possibility is a big reason why the Tigers signed Robinzon Diaz to a minor league contract.

Third on the priority list? Figuring out the last player on the roster, Leyland said, which suggests he has most of the position spots on the bench (aside from backup catcher) figured out.

Coke seems likely for bullpen

Still no answers on who will fill out the final two spots in the Tigers rotation, but it’s looking slightly clearer on who won’t. Manager Jim Leyland said today it’s 99.8 percent certain (his percentage, not mine) that Phil Coke will open the season in the bullpen. It’s nearing the point where if Coke was going to start, or at least be seriously considered for it, he would have to start being stretched out in his pitch count. Instead, Coke threw only one inning today against the Yankees.

Damon not in lineup for Tigers vs. Yankees

It’s a day for reunions here in Lakeland with Curtis Granderson and Johnny Damon against their old clubs. For that matter, it’s also Austin Jackson against his old club. But Damon is not in the starting lineup. He has turf toe in his left big toe, which he said he got from working out at home, but supposedly it’s nothing serious. Head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said Damon received treatment and was much improved, but they wanted to sit him as a precaution. They didn’t want him trying to compensate for the injury and then tweaking something else.

“If it was regular season, I’d be in there,” Damon said. “But it’s not, so …”

Damon is listed on the travel roster going to Clearwater for Thursday’s game against the Phillies, so we’ll see if it’s a lingering concern.

Magglio Ordonez is also out of the lineup. He had a muscle tweak behind his left knee that he suffered in the outfield yesterday against the Nationals. Like Damon, Magglio said he’d be playing if it was regular season.

You’ll also note that Scott Sizemore is back in the lineup after being scratched yesterday in Viera with a sore ankle. Also notable is Jeff Larish’s start at third base.

TIGERS

  1. Jackson, CF
  2. Raburn, RF
  3. Strieby, 1B
  4. Cabrera, DH
  5. Guillen, LF
  6. Laird, C
  7. Larish, 3B
  8. Sizemore, 2B
  9. Everett, SS

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