March 27th, 2010

Inge could rest a little more early in season

Brandon Inge might’ve had one of his first highlight plays of the spring when he went to the dirt to stop Ramiro Pena’s sharp grounder and then throw him out at first. He got up from it fine, but Leyland says highlight plays don’t worry him.

“I think I am concerned more about playing a lot right off the bat [in] cold weather, damp weather, rain delays. I’m more concerned about that than I am about any particular play.” Leyland said.

He’ll take that into account, he said, when he’s making out his lineup cards in April.

“He’s bullheaded, like he always is, and that’s one of the reasons he’s good,” Leyland said. “But I’m also going to watch it, because I can see from time to time. If you really watch close, you can tell it’s not just right, if you really watch close. But it’s good, and he’ll be ready to go. And I don’t want him to start thinking, because he’s swinging good right now. Obviously he’s not going to be a part-time player, but I’ll just use common sense. … He’s not going to want it, but I’m going to do it.”

Asked who his next-best defensive third baseman is, Leyland said, “Probably Belliard, Rafael Belliard.”

Starting lineup is just about set

The only question left in the Tigers’ Opening Day lineup, according to manager Jim Leyland, is whether to bat Gerald Laird and Scott Sizemore in the seventh and eighth slot, or flip-flop them.

Other than that, the starting lineup for Saturday’s game against the Yankees is the lineup you should expect to see against Zack Greinke and the Royals a week from Monday at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.

“That was pretty much the Opening Day lineup,” Leyalnd said after Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the Yankees. “I hope they do a little better offensively.”

It’ll have its growing pains, certainly with two rookies. But it’ll also have different ways of scoring runs besides the homer.

On leadoff man Austin Jackson, Leyland said, “I think that he pretty much would’ve had to fall on his face not to make the team, and he certainly hasn’t done that. Let’s face it: We made a trade for a guy, made a trade for a real good player, a very popular player. He would’ve had to really show us that he’s not ready, and he hasn’t done that. He’s done very, very well. I’ve been very impressed.

“Is he going to struggle some? Yes, he’s going to struggle some. He’s going to have moments, like all players do, particularly young players. But he’s the Opening Day center fielder and he’s going to lead off, and he’s going to get a good opportunity to break in. And I feel really good about that. I really like what I’ve seen. I’ve been very impressed.”

In case you missed the lineup from today …

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Johnny Damon, LF
  3. Magglio Ordonez, RF
  4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  5. Carlos Guillen, DH
  6. Brandon Inge, 3B
  7. Gerald Laird, C
  8. Scott Sizemore, 2B
  9. Adam Everett, SS

Zumaya strikes out side, including Granderson

Joel Zumaya and Curtis Granderson were roommates in Detroit in 2006, their rookie season. They were teammates for three years after that. On Saturday, for the first time in their pro careers, they were opponents.

At least, it was the first time against each other officially.

“Curtis was probably 2-for-2 off me before that,” Zumaya said. “He got me a couple times in live BP [last year].”

Granderson doesn’t remember that, but he remembers facing him during fall instructional ball in 2003.

“The one at-bat I remember was in 2003, the instructional league,” Granderson said. “I hit the ball to the shortstop, live drive. But he was throwing 93. This is a lot harder.”

That explains why he went down swinging in the sixth inning. Zumaya threw a fastball by him at 100 mph for strike three.

“Stay like that,” was Granderson’s advice afterwards. “You locate first pitch great, then get some movement on the second and third pitch, to be able to get movement [throwing] that hard and be around the zone, it’s pretty neat.”

Zumaya acknowledged their history with a head nod as Granderson stepped in. At that point, they became opponents.

“As soon as the at-bat’s over, [the friendship] pops right back up again,” Granderson said.

At that point, Zumaya became another hitter’s problem. He threw a fastball, then a changeup, then spotted a curveball for a called third strike on Randy Winn. His last pitch hit 101 mph to send down Ramiro Pena swinging.

“I’m real pumped,” Zumaya said. “I’m in good form now. I mean, that’s what Spring Training is for, to get the blues out of you and start working on stuff. I’m starting to feel pretty good now.”

Zumaya was originally slated to pitch again Sunday to test him out on back-to-back days, but manager Jim Leyland pushed him back to Monday. He’ll probably pitch back-to-back days at some point next week, just not quite yet.

“He’s been better the last few times,” said Leyland, who pushed for Zumaya to better mix his pitches.

Seay has torn rotator cuff, will rehab

UPDATE @1:45pm: Head athletic trainer Kevin Rand expressed some confidence Saturday afternoon that Seay can get back with rehab and avoid surgery. “I have a pretty good feeling we can get him through all that,” Rand said.

Tigers reliever Bobby Seay told Saturday morning that he has a torn rotator cuff, but will try to rehab through the injury rather than undergo surgery that could threaten his career.

The veteran left-hander visited Thursday with orthopaedic specialist Dr. James Andrews, who gave him his options. Surgery, he was advised, should be a last resort and only if rehab doesn’t work, because the track record of pitchers coming back from it and throwing effectively isn’t as good as it is for other procedures. It would cost him at least a year, and it’s far some certain he would be come back as the same pitcher.

“It’s an injury you have to try to rehab through,” Seay said. “You have to exhaust all your options.”

Seay said the injury was called a Grade 2 undersurface tear. It nearly qualified as a Grade 3 tear, which would be the most severe on the scale and close to a complete tear. It involves the supraspinatus and infraspinatus tendons, and it doesn’t heal itself. The hope for rehab is to strengthen the muscles and everything around the injury to take as much pressure off it as possible.

The minimum time for a rehab program, Seay said, is six weeks. There is a history of pitchers who have avoided surgery and pitched effectively with a rotator cuff, including Todd Stottlemyre. On the other side, Pedro Martinez underwent rotator cuff surgery a few years ago and has come back to pitch effectively.

Still, the news is basically a worst-case scenario for the Tigers, and certainly for the 31-year-old Seay, who was coming off a season where he set a career high with 67 appearances. He was on track to be a critical part of the bullpen this year, and he’s eligible for free agency at season’s end.

The Tigers placed Seay on the 15-day disabled list Saturday. With Seay sidelined, fellow lefty Phil Coke becomes critical in Detroit’s bullpen. So, too, could Fu-Te Ni, who was effective pitching alongside Seay for the second half of last season.

Seay has had pain in his shoulder ever since he began throwing again this winter. He tried to pitch through it, but was shut down after his first side session of Spring Training produced pain he hadn’t felt before.

The injury was originally diagnosed as bursitis in his upper arm and tendinitis in his shoulder, and he tried to throw again after taking medication and getting some rest. His first side session went well, but he couldn’t lift his arm into position to throw when he tried to do it again. Seay underwent an MRI exam last week.

“At least I have some clarity as far as what’s going on,” Seay said.

It’s entirely possible Seay was pitching with the injury down the stretch last year, and that the pain only surfaced once his shoulder cooled down over the offseason.

Roster moves: Seay, Miner to DL

The latest round of roster cuts is in, and they include the two expected DL moves. The Tigers placed Bobby Seay on the 15-day DL with a left shoulder strain, and Zach Miner on the 15-day DL with right shoulder tendinitis. Both moves were made retroactive to Friday, which would allow them to miss as few as five days of the regular season if theyre ready to come back. Thats highly unlikely with Seays injury, but possible with Miner, who still isnt pain-free but is on a strengtening program.

Other roster moves involved Daniel Schlereth and Wilkin Ramirez optioned to Toledo, and Phil Dumatrait, Enrique Gonzalez and Max St. Pierre assigned to minor league camp.