Thursday: Tigers vs. Jays

Jim Leyland will admit that having split-squad games at different times in different towns this late in the spring is a pain, partly because of planning out the two rosters this late, partly because of the effort to try to make it to both games to evaluate. Still, he isn’t downplaying the importance of the two split-squad games today — Dontrelle Willis starting in the day, Jeremy Bonderman starting at night.

“This is a big day for us, a big day and night,” Leyland said.

Here are a few things that should be big to look for:

  • Dontrelle’s command and velocity: How hard can he throw while commanding the strike zone? He showed the 93 mph fastball Monday against the Jays while throwing eight of his 11 pitches at 90 mph or above. He needs to do that while pounding the strike zone.
  • Bonderman’s splitter: Leyland wants to see him throw the pitch, and he’s emphatic enough that he’ll have catcher Alex Avila calling for the splitter and made a strong suggestion that Bonderman should not shake it off. Can Bonderman command the pitch and get good results from it, to the point where it’s a little more than a show pitch?
  • How hitters react to Dontrelle’s pitches: Can he get swings and misses on pitches in the strike zone? When they do hit it, how well do they hit it? This should be particularly intriguing, since he’ll be facing the Jays for the second time in four days.
  • Endurance: Dontrelle is slated to go to 60-65 pitches, while Bonderman will be stretched to 75 pitches for the first time in quite a while. Bonderman doesn’t expect it to be an issue, because his arm has felt good all spring, but it’ll be watched.


  1. Thomas, RF
  2. Raburn, 2B
  3. Guillen, DH
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Laird, C
  6. Ramirez, LF
  7. Inge, 3B
  8. Kelly, CF
  9. Santiago, SS

P: Willis


  1. Mike McCoy, 2B
  2. John McDonald, SS
  3. Adam Lind, DH
  4. Vernon Wells, CF
  5. Randy Ruiz, 1B
  6. Jeremy Reed, LF
  7. Edwin Encarnacion, 3B
  8. Travis Snider, RF
  9. Jose Molina, C

P: Marc Rzepczynski


Uh-oh. Looks like D-Train is having trouble finding the strike zone again. His last two spring starts are going to need to be really good to make me feel comfortable with him being in the rotation.

The Jays ended up with just those two dink hits? We came that close to a team no-hitter. Willis is pitching like a wiley veteran. Opposing hitters continue to look off balance with uncomfortable swings. Pitching is all about deception and throwing hitters off. Dontrelle is pitching. I think there could be a problem holding down the opposition’s running game, however, when he’s on the mound. Long delivery from the stretch and Laird needs a good pitch to go into his surefire throwing motion. At any rate, Willis continues to look like a big league pitcher.
I’d like to see some more of Raburn at secondbase throughout the remainder of ST. I’m not yet sold on Sizemore, and if Jackson has trouble leading off it will get pretty crowded at the bottom of the order. As it stands now, Raburn does some things well at second and some not so well, which is to be expected.
There’s been a lot of good Detroit pitching lately. Now let’s see what Bonderman does.

It seems a long time since I have felt so quietly confident about the Tigs prospects. I can’t recall having the depth across the roster with bona fide prospects waiting in the wings.
I like the way Carlos is driving in the runs and Laird’s 270 alter ego looks to have returned for 2010. They presently lead ST RBI’s with 12 each.
Thanks to Jason’s earlier article, I didn’t realise Inge was **** at college. Amazingly in his 13th Minor & MLB season, he has yet to play any infield position besides 3B despite having played all outfield positions, DH and Catcher. If Larish or Kelly keep producing and are able to make the roster, it is a shame Inge could not revert to SS.
Dlugach with his 9 SO’s and no walks from 28 ST AB’s is not ready for Detroit but our ranks for maturing young guns is sure looking good.

Funny how one short stop abbreviation and not the other was picked up.

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