May 2010

Cabrera to miss Seattle series

Miguel Cabrera will miss the Tigers’ upcoming two-game series at Seattle to be with his wife in Florida for the birth of their second child.

It leaves a big void for Detroit to fill against the Mariners. But as manager Jim Leyland pointed out, it’s a loss they can completely understand.

“We’re going to be playing a little bit short, but for the right reason,” Leyland said. “I wish him the best of luck, obviously, with the child and everything.”

Cabrera’s wife, Rosangel, is scheduled to have labor induced on Tuesday near their home in Miami and give birth to their second daughter. Because the Tigers play Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon in Seattle, it would be just about impossible for Cabrera to return in time for Wednesday’s series finale.

Instead, Cabrera will rejoin the team back in Detroit for the start of their upcoming homestand Friday night.

Cabrera hit his 10th home run of the season in Sunday’s win over the Dodgers. His 32 RBIs lead the Major Leagues, and his loss will leave the Tigers tinkering the middle of the lineup. With Carlos Guillen on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo, Detroit doesn’t have a proven run producer to fill in. They could conceivably give rookie Brennan Boesch a chance in the cleanup spot, or they could move Johnny Damon down in the order.

Both Tigers superutility players, Don Kelly and Ryan Raburn, have experience playing first base. So it appears unlikely the Tigers will make a short-term roster move to add a position player.

“I’ve got plenty of options,” Leyland said. “I’m not worried about that. You don’t like that bat being out of there for a couple of days, but I’ve got a couple guys who can play first base. I’m not worried about that part of it. You worry about losing that offense for a couple days — like I said, all for the right reason.

“We’ll make the best out of it. Hopefully everything works out for Miguel and his wife. We’ll move forward.”

Sunday: Tigers at Dodgers

Relatively good news on the Austin Jackson front: He was in the clubhouse this morning and felt fine, still a little bit of a headache. However, his left eye is really swollen, almost completely shut.

“I can see down,” Jackson said, “but if I have to look at anybody straight [ahead], I have to lean back.”

Needless to say, Jackson isn’t available this afternoon, and unless they get the swelling down in the next couple days, he might have a hard time playing Tuesday in Seattle. Right now, they’re taking it day to day.

With that in mind, Johnny Damon is back in center field today, flanked by Brennan Boesch and Magglio Ordonez. Gerald Laird is catching Rick Porcello, as he usually does.

TIGERS

  1. Damon, CF
  2. Santiago, SS
  3. Ordonez, RF
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Boesch, LF
  6. Inge, 3B
  7. Laird, C
  8. Worth, 2B
  9. Porcello, P

DODGERS

  1. Russell Martin, C
  2. Xavier Paul, RF
  3. Matt Kemp, CF
  4. James Loney, 1B
  5. Casey Blake, 3B
  6. Garret Anderson, LF
  7. Blake DeWitt, 2B
  8. Jamey Carroll, SS
  9. Hiroki Kuroda, P

Saturday: Tigers at Dodgers

When Jim Leyland said Friday that he would going to mix it up in his outfield to fit his four outfielders into three spots, I’m not sure if many people expected that to include center fielder Austin Jackson. Today, it does. Johnny Damon will lead off and play center in between Brennan Boesch and Magglio Ordonez. It’ll be his first start in center this season.

TIGERS

  1. Damon, CF
  2. Santiago, 2B
  3. Ordonez, RF
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Boesch, LF
  6. Inge, 3B
  7. Laird, C
  8. Everett, SS
  9. Galarraga, P

DODGERS

  1. Russell Martin, C
  2. Xavier Paul, RF
  3. Manny Ramirez, LF
  4. Matt Kemp, CF
  5. James Loney, 1B
  6. Casey Blake, 3B
  7. Blake DeWitt, 2B
  8. Jamey Carroll, SS
  9. John Ely, P

Friday: Tigers at Dodgers

Back on the beat after a couple days off. Already heard the vacation jokes, thanks.

Speaking of days off, the squeeze of four Tigers outfielders and just three spots shakes out with Johnny Damon as the odd man out tonight. Brennan Boesch is in left field. Magglio Ordonez is in right. He said his ankle feels fine now. Still isn’t completely sure what caused it. Manager Jim Leyland said Damon will definitely be in the lineup Saturday. Not sure who won’t be.

TIGERS

  1. Jackson, CF
  2. Santiago, SS
  3. Ordonez, RF
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Boesch, LF
  6. Inge, 3B
  7. Avila, C
  8. Worth, 2B
  9. Willis, P

DODGERS

  1. Jamey Carroll, 2B
  2. Ronnie Belliard, 1B
  3. Manny Ramirez, LF
  4. Matt Kemp, CF
  5. Casey Blake, 3B
  6. Reed Johnson, RF
  7. Nick Green, 2B
  8. A.J. Ellis, C
  9. Chad Billingsley, P

Clete Thomas has MRI on left knee

While Brennan Boesch tears it up in Detroit and Casper Wells gets a taste of the big leagues, Clete Thomas is battling a knee injury at Triple-A Toledo. He flew to Colorado on Tuesday for an MRI exam on his left knee and a visit with a doctor, according to the Toledo Blade. Thomas has been out for about a week.

Thomas missed much of the final couple weeks of Spring Training with a shoulder injury that hampered his chances of making the club. He hit .389 (14-for-36) this spring with a home run, three RBIs and 10 runs scored.

The Mud Hens haven’t filled Thomas’ roster spot just yet, presumably because Ryan Strieby is very close to a return from his wrist injury.

Tuesday: Tigers vs. White Sox

Same lineup as yesterday for the Tigers, and it looks pretty much the same for the White Sox. The only difference, they hope, is the weather. It doesn’t appear to be raining at the ballpark right now, and they should be able to get in this game before the rain returns late this afternoon or tonight.

TIGERS

  1. Jackson, CF
  2. Damon, DH
  3. Ordonez, RF
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Boesch, LF
  6. Inge, 3B
  7. Santiago, 2B
  8. Laird, C
  9. Everett, SS

P: Rick Porcello

WHITE SOX

  1. Juan Pierre, LF
  2. Omar Vizquel, 2B
  3. Andruw Jones, RF
  4. Paul Konerko, 1B
  5. Armando Rios, CF
  6. A.J. Pierzynski, C
  7. Carlos Quentin, DH
  8. Mark Teahen, 3B
  9. Alexei Ramirez, SS

P: Freddy Garcia

Guillen looking at Saturday rehab start

It appears the rain in Detroit might have washed out the chances of seeing Carlos Guillen start his rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo while the Mud Hens are at home. With the tarp on the field at Comerica Park this morning, Guillen was not able to run the bases, so he’ll have to pick up that part of his rehab again Wednesday morning at Triple-A Toledo.

Guillen said today he’ll probably run the bases Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at Toledo. He could then start his rehab assignment Saturday, when the Mud Hens begin their road trip at Syracuse. That would put him on track to face Nationals uberprospect Stephen Strasburg, who will probably face the Mud Hens on Sunday.

How long will Guillen need to rehab, then? Still no idea. The Tigers begin their next homestand next Friday, but Guillen will have had five rehab games tops by then, since the Hens have an off-day next Wednesday in the middle of their trip. And the last thing Guillen wants to do right now is rush his rehab and tweak his hamstring again.

Miner to get second opinion on elbow

Zach Miner told MLB.com Sunday he will get a second opinion on his ailing right elbow this coming week before deciding whether to opt for surgery now or try a rehab process.

An MRI exam in Detroit Friday suggested Miner has a partial tear of the ulnar colateral ligament in his right elbow. Surgery would cost him the rest of the season, but he could choose to try to avoid surgery and pitch through it by strengthening the muscles around the injury while it heals.

“Obviously I’m disappointed, but at the same time, not surprised,” Miner wrote in an email. “I could tell something hasn’t been right, but I was going to try to get through whatever discomfort I was having, hoping it would work its way out. I’m going to get a second opinion this week and go from there.”

Miner has been on the 15-day disabled list since the final days of Spring Training. Eddie Bonine and Brad Thomas have filled in well in his absence.

Sunday: Tigers vs. Red Sox

When we left manager Jim Leyland early Sunday morning, he was toying with the idea of starting Danny Worth at second base for this game. A few hours later, he followed through on it, putting Worth at second and batting him ninth.

Worth didn’t know he was starting when he got into the clubhouse.

“I don’t even know where the lineup is,” Worth said.

It will be a day with three rookies in the Tigers lineup, but not the reigning AL Rookie of the Month. Austin Jackson is getting a rare day off, replaced in center by Don Kelly and at leadoff by Johnny Damon. Ramon Santiago will bat second.

TIGERS

  1. Jackson, CF
  2. Santiago, SS
  3. Ordonez, DH
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Boesch, RF
  6. Inge, 3B
  7. Kelly, CF
  8. Avila, C
  9. Worth, 2B

P: Armando Galarraga

RED SOX

  1. Marco Scutaro, SS
  2. Jeremy Hermida, LF
  3. J.D. Drew, RF
  4. Kevin Youkilis, 1B
  5. David Ortiz, DH
  6. Mike Lowell, 3B
  7. Jason Varitek, C
  8. Bill Hall, 2B
  9. Jonathan Van Every, CF

P: John Lackey

Carlos Guillen gets his wish (seven months later)

In the end, Carlos Guillen got what he wanted, if only because the Tigers got what they needed.

When Guillen complained about his situation last fall, griped about being taken out for late-inning defensive purposes in the outfield last year, he gave the distinct impression that he would be happier playing in the infield. He had changed positions time and again for the good of the team since moving out from shortstop late in the 2007 season. He wasn’t injured as often as a Tiger, he said, when he played shortstop, though one could argue against that.
Beneath the talk about health, the second-guessing of moves, the complaints about an ever-changing lineup was his case to move to second base if the Tigers didn’t re-sign Placido Polanco. The Tigers shot down that idea quickly, saying they were committed to Scott Sizemore. They also came back to the belief that Guillen would have a hard time staying healthy playing the infield every day.
Seven months after those comments, Sizemore is struggling, Brennan Boesch is thriving in Guillen’s old left field/DH role, the Tigers need more offense in their lineup, and Guillen is close to returning from his left hamstring pull. The Tigers needed to get creative to find a way to keep Guillen and Boesch in the same lineup. They did so by deciding that idea of Guillen as an infielder again wasn’t so crazy after all.
“Carlos is a tremendous veteran player,” Leyland said. “Obviously, we want to find a spot for him every day. I think they would probably run me out of town if we sent Boesch down, so I don’t think that would be a very bright move. And you’ve got Johnny Damon, so what you do is because of the situation with Scott Sizemore. I think it’s going to give us another bat in the lineup.”
Manager Jim Leyland sat down with Guillen Saturday and talked about it, but he probably didn’t have to. Give Guillen an infielder’s glove, and he was probably going to be on board with this. The unanswered questions can come later.
If the Tigers felt last year, two years ago, three years ago like Guillen couldn’t stay healthy for a season as an infielder, what changed to make them feel like Guillen — who’s coming off a hamstring injury he suffered rounding third base — can hold up at second base? The realistic answer is the need was big enough for them to give it a shot. If it doesn’t work out, they have other options at second. If Guillen gets hurt, hey, they gave it a shot.
“He’s obviously caught a lot of ground balls in his career,” Leyland said. “Over at second base, obviously, it’s not as strenuous as shortstop. We think that that’s going to give us another offensive bat that pushes some things down further. We think it’s a logical move.”
How long do the Tigers plan on going with this? I have no idea. There are so many moving parts that could change this, it’s almost not even worth discussing how long. Guillen’s health is only one of the factors, but it’s by far the biggest. How long Boesch can keep up this hitting as pitchers try to get him to chase bad pitches is another. What Sizemore does at Triple-A Toledo to recover and earn a trip back is still another. Injuries to other Tigers outfielders could change plans just the same.
Leyland definitely wasn’t talking about looking that far ahead. He’s looking at the potential spark to the lineup from Guillen batting sixth in the lineup between Boesch and Brandon Inge. Still, two important Tigers who had trouble communicating at season’s end are now seemingly on the same wavelength.
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