May 2010

Sizemore, Scherzer to Toledo; Worth coming up

The first Saturday night fireworks of the season at Comerica Park weren’t just on the field. After the Tigers’ comeback win over the Red Sox, they made three key changes to their roster, optioning starting second baseman Scott Sizemore and key starting pitcher Max Scherzer to Triple-A Toledo and anointing Carlos Guillen as the new starter at second when he returns from the disabled list.

Armando Galarraga, who was already being recalled from Toledo to start Sunday’s series finale against Boston, will stay in the rotation. To replace Sizemore, the Tigers purchased the contract of infielder Danny Worth, who could make his Major League debut as soon as Sunday at second base.

Manager Jim Leyland said he’ll fill second base with some combination of Ramon Santiago, Worth and utilityman Don Kelly until Guillen is ready. Guillen, currently on the 15-day DL with a strained left hamstring, has been taking ground balls the past couple days and is expected to begin a rehab assignment sometime next week after the Tigers’ current homestand ends Tuesday.

The moves and announcements came just before midnight after Detroit’s 12-inning victory, and they came in a flurry.

The Tigers tabbed Scherzer to fill the void in the middle of their rotation immediately upon acquiring the gifted 25-year-old from Arizona in the Edwin Jackson trade last December. After four encouraging April starts, however, he fell into a deep four-start struggle that saw him battle his mechanics moreso than hitters.

Scherzer gave up 27 runs on 33 hits over 18 innings in his last four starts, the last three of them losses. The capper came Friday night, when he surrendered three home runs — including a 450-foot drive from David Ortiz — tagged him with six runs on six hits over five innings.

Scherzer has given up nine home runs this season, tying him for second in the American League entering Saturday.

Scherzer would’ve been on track to start next Thursday at Oakland. Instead, the Tigers will likely slot Dontrelle Willis into that outing, pitching him in his hometown. Galarraga can then start Friday against the Dodgers on his regular turn after starting Sunday.

Galarraga has boasted impressive numbers in Toledo, owning a 4-2 record with a 3.92 ERA. With a strike-to-ball ratio of better than 2-to-1, his command seems to have improved since last season with the Tigers, where he posted a 6-10 record in 25 starts before being relegated to bullpen duties.

The 25-year-old Sizemore has struggled for the vast majority of this season to date, but has fallen on particularly tough times lately. His two strikeouts against Red Sox lefty Jon Lester Saturday night extended his current slump to 0-for-14 and dropped his average to .206. He hit one home run and added eight RBIs, part of the struggles at the bottom of the Tigers order.

The telling sign came Saturday night, when manager Jim Leyland used Ramon Santiago to pinch-hit for Sizemore in the eighth inning of a tie game with Red Sox left-hander Hideki Okajima and the potential go-ahead run on third with one out. Santiago lined out to third and stayed in the game at second base before drawing the walkoff walk to drive in the winning run in the 12th.

The 24-year-old Worth was once among the Tigers’ shortstop prospects, having been drafted in the second round of the 2007 Draft out of Pepperdine. He largely struggled as a hitter in his first three seasons, but has proven valuable around the infield this year at Toledo, where he entered Saturday batting .274 with five doubles, two homers and 14 RBIs.  He has played at shortstop, second and third.

Saturday: Tigers vs. Red Sox

Ironically (or maybe not ironic at all), the one Tiger with more than five at-bats against Jon Lester is Johnny Damon, the one Tigers regular who’s sitting tonight. He’s 7-for-24 off Lester. However, I’d expect he was giving some Tigers rookies (there are four of them in the lineup tonight) some pregame ideas on how to approach Lester.

One of those rookies is Casper Wells, who will get his first Major League at-bat in the first inning against Lester. He’s batting second and playing left field in Damon’s place. And yes, he’s still wearing number 57.

TIGERS

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

P: Dontrelle Willis

RED SOX

  1. Marco Scutaro, SS
  2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
  3. Victor Martinez, C
  4. Kevin Youkilis, 1B
  5. David Ortiz, DH
  6. Adrian Beltre, 3B
  7. J.D. Drew, RF
  8. Bill Hall, LF
  9. Darnell McDonald, CF

P: Jon Lester

Zach Miner has partially torn elbow ligament

The news coming out of the Tigers medical staff was not good for reliever Zach Miner, who has been diagnosed with a partial tear of the ulnar colateral ligament in his right elbow.

Miner underwent an MRI exam Friday in Detroit. The results showed a partial tear, significant enough to be causing the trouble he’s been dealing with since Spring Training. He had been making slow progress until Thursday, when his elbow didn’t feel right during a two-inning stint in extended Spring Training.

Head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said Saturday afternoon that Miner is now looking at his options. He can try to rehab his way through the injury and strengthen all the muscles around the damaged ligament until it gets better, or he could have surgery, which would cost him the season.

“Miner’s not good,” manager Jim Leyland said. “We won’t be seeing Zach for a while, that I can assure you.”

Friday: Tigers vs. Red Sox

No, Casper Wells is not in the lineup tonight. Given his .154 average against right-handed pitchers at Triple-A, that isn’t really a surprise. His .370 (10-for-27) performance off lefties would give him a better chance to play against Jon Lester tomorrow night, though manager Jim Leyland didn’t want to talk about the lineup.

It’s pretty much a standard lineup tonight. Gerald Laird gets the start to catch Max Scherzer, a pairing that has happened only once this season with less-than-great results.

TIGERS

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

P: Max Scherzer

RED SOX

  1. Marco Scutaro, SS
  2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
  3. Victor Martinez, C
  4. Kevin Youkilis, 1B
  5. J.D. Drew, RF
  6. David Ortiz, DH
  7. Adrian Beltre, 3B
  8. Jeremy Hermida, LF
  9. Darnell McDonald, CF

P: Clay Buchholz

Miner in Detroit for exam on elbow

Zach Miner was back in the Tigers clubhouse today, but as he admitted, it isnt under the best of circumstances. Hes scheduled to be examined by Dr. Stephen Lemos today after feeling some discomfort in his elbow yesterday during a two-inning performance in extended Spring Training. Not sure yet if its anything serious. He threw well yesterday, so it wouldnt seem to be anything devastating. Still, it could be the difference between Miner being on track for a rehab assignment soon and a setback that pushes back his rehab process into June.

Wells up for 2 days; Galarraga to start Sunday

The move is official: Casper Wells has been recalled from Triple-A Toledo, and Alfredo Figaro is headed back to the Hens. But Leyland also announced his next move coming Sunday: Wells will be optioned back to Toledo, and Armando Galarraga will be called up to start Sunday against the Red Sox. So unless there’s an injury that changes plans, Wells’ first big-league stint will be a short one.

Leyland did not get into what happens with Galarraga after Sunday. However, the Tigers won’t need an extra starter after that, since their five starters will be on short rest. Given that, plus the fact that Leyland doesn’t really want 13 pitchers on the staff unless the bullpen is really worn down, seemingly makes this a one-time outing for Galarraga.

Who comes back in his place? Interesting question. After double-checking on the rules, it appears the Tigers do NOT have to wait 10 days to recall Ryan Raburn, regardless of whether he’s replacing somebody on the disabled list. That seemingly could lead to Raburn’s return next week. After double-checking again, it appears the 10-day rule is still in effect, so the Tigers can’t recall Raburn until next Saturday. So we’re back to guessing who comes up again.

Casper Wells to Detroit

UPDATE: The Tigers do not have anything to announce at this time, team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said in an email Friday morning. Still, Wells is definitely coming to Detroit. No official word on the return move quite yet. One of the congratulatory tweets from teammates mentioned below has been deleted.

THURSDAY NIGHT: The Tigers arent confirming a roster move is coming, but Casper Wells teammates at Triple-A Toledo are congratulating him on Twitter for getting called up to the big leagues.

No info on the return move, obviously, but it would not be a surprise if the Tigers are going back to 12 pitchers and 13 position players sooner than expected. With Ryan Raburn optioned to Toledo Wednesday morning, the current roster makeup left them with only one outfielder on the bench once you account for a fourth outfielder (usually Johnny Damon) in the DH slot. Detroit had to go with two left-handed hitters against lefty CC Sabathia Thursday and won, but I dont think Jim Leyland likes that setup long term. Plus, the last three games have required little use of the bullpen, allowing exhausted relievers to get some much-needed rest and making it easier to go with seven relievers going into the weekend. It would also suggest Sunday will not be a bullpen start. Coincidentally, Armando Galarraga is on turn to pitch Sunday for Toledo.

Thursday: Tigers vs. Yankees

It’s a pretty standard lineup for the Tigers after a day-night doubleheader last night. One interesting note: Ramon Santiago is 7-for-21 against CC Sabathia, but after playing all nine innings of both games yesterday, he’s off. Adam Everett is starting at short.

TIGERS
  1. Jackson, CF
  2. Damon, DH
  3. Ordonez, RF
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Boesch, LF
  6. Inge, 3B
  7. Laird, C
  8. Sizemore, 2B
  9. Everett, SS
P: Justin Verlander
YANKEES
  1. Derek Jeter, SS
  2. Brett Gardner, CF
  3. Mark Teixeira, DH
  4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
  5. Robinson Cano, 2B
  6. Jorge Posada, C
  7. Juan Miranda, 1B
  8. Randy Winn, LF
  9. Greg Golson, RF
P: CC Sabathia

Wednesday: Tigers vs. Yankees, Game 2

Don Kelly gets the start at third base to give Brandon Inge some rest. Jim Leyland said in the morning he’d been thinking about it, but he decided to go with him.

As for the bullpen, it’s in a little better shape than it was at the start of the day. Leyland said he plans to give Joel Zumaya the entire day off, but he could come back with Perry for a batter or two or Jose Valverde in a save situation.

Some of the bullpen is also newly-mohawked. Joel Zumaya and Ryan Perry were in the clubhouse between games sporting them — not like Johnny Damon, either. They were clean-shaven on the sides, as was Phil Coke and Alex Avila.

TIGERS

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

SP: Jeremy Bonderman

YANKEES

  1. Derek Jeter, SS
  2. Brett Gardner, CF
  3. Mark Teixeira, 1B
  4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
  5. Robinson Cano, 2B
  6. Nick Swisher, RF
  7. Marcus Thames, LF
  8. Francisco Cervelli, C
  9. Ramiro Pena, DH

SP: Phil Hughes

Wednesday: Tigers vs. Yankees, Game 1

While Wednesday morning’s move to recall Alfredo Figaro gives the Tigers an extra reliever for Wednesday, it leaves the Tigers short a position player. They have three players on the bench, and one of them is the second catcher, so manager Jim Leyland has a little less flexibility to rest guys for the day-night doubleheader.

“You want to take care of everybody, but in this situation you can’t,” Leyland said.
With that in mind, here’s how Leyland was talking about working it out:
  • Scott Sizemore will not start the day game, but he will start the night game. Leyland said the cold weather sometimes affects Sizemore’s surgically repaired left ankle. With Raburn sent down, Ramon Santiago is left to start at second today.
  • Magglio Ordonez and Johnny Damon will each play both games, but they’ll alternate in the DH slot. Magglio will DH the first game and start in RF tonight. Damon will start the day game in left field and DH tonight.
  • Gerald Laird will catch Rick Porcello in the day game. Alex Avila will catch Jeremy Bonderman in the nightcap.
Got all that? Ok, here’s the full lineup for the day game …
TIGERS
  1. Jackson, CF
  2. Damon, LF
  3. Ordonez, DH
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Boesch, RF
  6. Inge, 3B
  7. Santiago, 2B
  8. Laird, C
  9. Everett, SS
P: Rick Porcello
YANKEES
  1. Derek Jeter, SS
  2. Brett Gardner, CF
  3. Mark Teixeira, 1B
  4. Alex Rodriguez, DH
  5. Robinson Cano, 2B
  6. Jorge Posada, C
  7. Nick Swisher, RF
  8. Randy Winn, LF
  9. Ramiro Pena, 3B
P: Javier Vazquez
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