August 2010

Thursday: Tigers at Yankees

Reminder: Today’s game is on MLB Network.

TIGERS
  1. Jackson, CF
  2. Rhymes, 2B
  3. Raburn, RF
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Damon, DH
  6. Peralta, SS
  7. Inge, 3B
  8. Avila, C
  9. Kelly, LF
P: Rick Porcello
YANKEES
  1. Gardner, LF
  2. Jeter, SS
  3. Teixeira, 1B
  4. Cano, 2B
  5. Swisher, RF
  6. Posada, C
  7. Granderson, CF
  8. Kearns, DH
  9. Pena, 3B
P: Phil Hughes

Guillen placed on 15-day disabled list

The good news on Carlos Guillen’s left knee wasn’t good enough to keep him off the disabled list. The Tigers placed their second baseman on the 15-day DL, retroactive to Tuesday, with a deep knee bruise.

To replace Guillen, the Tigers recalled second baseman Will Rhymes from Triple-A Toledo. Rhymes filled in for Guillen at second when he went on the disabled list last month with a strained calf.

Guillen’s injury happened on the game-ending double play that salvaged the Tigers’ 3-1 win over the Yankees Monday night. A hard slide from Brett Gardner sent him directly into Guillen’s knee as he fired to first for the game’s final out. Guillen limped off the field as the Tigers celebrated.

An MRI exam taken Tuesday revealed no structural or ligament damage. Still, the swelling was enough to keep him sidelined for the immediate future.

“I was fine [Monday night]. Everything was normal,” Guillen said Tuesday. “But [in the] morning, when I woke up, I felt a little bit different. I knew there was going to be a little swelling, because he got me pretty good.”

With the Tigers already short a position player to make room for an extra reliever, they couldn’t afford to go long without another.

Guillen played in seven games since coming back from the calf injury. He batted .214 (6-for-28) in that time with a double, a home run and four RBIs while providing a veteran bat behind American League MVP candidate Miguel Cabrera. Without him, the Tigers are again short-handed by two quality bats, including Magglio Ordonez.

The 27-year-old Rhymes filled in admirably for Guillen and made an impression in his first Major League stint, batting .259 (14-for-54) with three doubles, a triple and four RBIs.

Guillen sore, but should be fine after double play

Carlos Guillen said after his collision on Monday’s game-ending double play that his left knee was “a little sore, but it’ll be fine.”

He didn’t say anything about playing Tuesday, saying he would need to see how it feels when he comes in Tuesday afternoon.

He had no issue with the slide from Yankees speedster Brett Gardner, nor did Tigers manager Jim Leyland. He anticipated a play, which is why he released the ball so quickly. Still, he was able to make an accurate throw even as Gardner collided with his left leg while he was still in his throwing motion.

“I have to make that play,” Guillen said. “I have to stay in as long as I can and make a good throw.”

His teammates were glad he did.

“I say thank God for getting the double play,” closer Jose Valverde said.

Castellanos, Ruffin, Smyly agree to terms with Tigers

The Tigers continued their solid record of signing their top draft picks, but they had to go into the wee hours of Monday night to do it. They agreed to terms with their top three Draft picks — first-rounders Nick Castellanos and Chance Ruffin as well as second-rounder Drew Smyly.

Castellanos agreed to terms just a few minutes before the midnight ET deadline. It was close enough that Major League Baseball officials went into Tuesday morning to review the case and make sure he agreed on time. If it was ruled he hadn’t agreed by midnight, the Tigers would’ve lost his rights, and he would’ve had to decide to either go to school or to play independent ball. He had a scholarship offer to play at the University of Miami.

“It was stressful,” Castellanos said by phone early Tuesday morning. “It was exciting. It was exhausting, now that I think about it. … I had an idea it was going to come down to the last minute, but I didn’t know it would come down to the very last minute.”

Castellanos, a high school infielder from Archbishop McCarthy High School in south Florida selected with the 44th overall pick, agreed to a contract that includes a $3.45 million signing bonus. The Tigers are expected to put him into their farm system as a third baseman

Ruffin, a University of Texas reliever taken with the 48th overall pick, agreed to terms with the club on a contract that includes a $1.15 million signing bonus. His signing came down earlier in the evening.

“It was pretty tough, all the good memories and great teams,” Ruffin said. “It was tough to leave all that behind. But it was time for me to move on and pursue a professional career.”

Smyly, the University of Arkansas left-handed

The son of former Major League pitcher Bruce Ruffin, his negotiations took longer than some might’ve expected as he weighed whether to return to a talented Longhorns squad or start advancing towards the big leagues now.

His signing adds another talented relief arm to a Tigers farm system that already has quite a few. Ruffin has been projected by some as a pitcher who could progress quickly through the system, and has garnered comparisons to Major League closer Huston Street. He isn’t the prototypical power arm the Tigers usually go for, but he has a good arm and a solid track record with the Horns.

Smyly will receive a $1.1 million signing bonus, according to Baseball America. The University of Arkansas left-hander, who was eligible as a sophomore this year, helped his Draft stock with a breakout season for the Razorbacks. He could’ve gone back for his junior season and done the same thing in next year’s Draft, but opted to capitalize now.

Valverde hopefully available tonight

The Tigers were optimistic that they would have Jose Valverde available Monday night against the Yankees, if they could get a save situation for him.

“We’re hoping he’s going to be OK,” manager Jim Leyland said Monday afternoon. “We got a pretty good report today.”

Valverde missed the entire weekend series against the White Sox with a deep abdominal strain on his right side. He said Monday afternoon he felt a lot better, though he couldn’t say for sure if he would be ready until he went out to play catch.

“I want to be ready to play,” Valverde said.

Phil Coke closed out back-to-back wins Saturday and Sunday in Valverde’s absence. Leyland said Coke would “hopefully” be available Monday as well. It would mean potentially three straight days of work, but Leyland pointed out that his pitch count Sunday was relatively low.

Heavy bullpen use over the weekend and Valverde’s situation prompted Detroit to call up Daniel Schlereth from Triple-A Toledo as an extra reliever. 

Damon hopes to stay with Tigers next year

Johnny Damon was in the Yankee Stadium interview room talking with New York reporters about his return to the Bronx for the first time he and the Bronx Bombers parted ways last winter. He ended up saying quite a bit about his future with the Tigers.

Damon reiterated that next year might be his final season before retiring. He said he would very much like it to be with the Tigers. Considering the ups and downs of this season, it was an interesting statement.

“I’m hoping to stay. I’m hoping after this season they want me back to, I feel, be a part of something special. I think that’s a big reason why I chose Detroit, because I felt like there was something happening there with a winning ballclub. A championship would mean the world to the fans there, to that economy, to the owner. That’s why I felt was, and is, the best place for me right now.”

Damon is eligible for free agency this winter, and there has been some speculation whether he would end the season as a Tiger. Detroit could conceivably try to pass him through waivers in order to set up an August trade, though indications are that the Tigers haven’t put him on waivers yet.

Damon signed a one-year, $8 million contract in February after winning a World Series with the Yankees, who briefly had talks on Damon before moving on to other options. His addition was expected to be one of the big pieces towards reigniting a dormant offense. He has had an up-and-down season at the plate, batting .278 with 30 doubles, seven home runs, 38 RBIs and 65 runs scored, but he hit a clutch two-run triple Sunday to help fuel Detroit’s comeback win over the White Sox.

“My experience in Detroit has been great,” Damon said. “I love it there. I feel like the team is an up-and-coming team with a lot of young kids there that definitely need guidance to show them the hopes, and it seems like they’ve been doing a pretty good job at it.”

The Tigers have an interesting offseason on their hands, especially with they do with their outfield. Magglio Ordonez’s ankle fracture all but ensures his contract option for 2011 won’t vest, making it the Tigers’ decision whether to pick it up for $15 million or buy it out for no cost. Austin Jackson is a huge part of the Tigers’ future in center field and at leadoff, and Brennan Boesch is an everyday outfielder now.

“This is a new process for me. I’m almost a player-coach,” Damon said. “I’m around all the young kids who are almost young enough to be my sons, but it’s great. It puts that fire back into you. You enjoy watch these guys grow up. I’m enjoying watching the best hitter in baseball in [Miguel] Cabrera. I’m enjoying watching the best defensive center fielder in the game. That’s the stuff you enjoy and you remember for a very long time.”

Damon has been a DH more days than an outfielder. Detroit will most likely look at an impact bat or two this winter, whether on the free-agent market or through trades.

That said, the Tigers don’t have an obvious No. 2 hitter on their club as is, aside from Damon.

Damon said he knows an August trade is a possibility. Even if it comes to fruition, though, he would like to be in Detroit next year.

“If that does happen, they know that I would be very interested in coming back next year,” Damon said. “I feel like my job’s not complete in Detroit until we get them back to the playoffs to make all the fans happy.”

Judging from Damon’s career plans, it would not take a multi-year deal to bring the 36-year-old back if they want him.

Tigers recall Schlereth, option Frazier

The Tigers’ injury-shortened, workload-extended bullpen will be getting some help for the team’s four-game series at Yankee Stadium. Detroit recalled left-hander Daniel Schlereth from Triple-A Toledo and optioned outfielder Jeff Frazier back to the Mud Hens.

Schlereth is expected to rejoin the Tigers Monday in New York, the team may or may not have closer Jose Valverde available depending on his mild abdominal strain. They also will have to watch Phil Coke after he closed out the Tigers’ last two wins against the White Sox.

Schlereth, part of the return package from Arizona in last December’s Edwin Jackson trade,  pitched in four games for the Tigers during his two-week stint in Detroit last month. The 24-year-old and former first-round draft pick gave up an earned run and two inherited runners on seven hits over 3 2/3 innings with two walks and a strikeout.

The Tigers called up Frazier when they were in need of offensive punch at the end of July, but had used him sparingly at best in recent days. He went 5-for-22 with a double, an RBI and five strikeouts in eight appearances.

Galarraga, Avila argue in Tigers dugout

Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga and catcher Alex Avila had to be separated by teammates during a dugout dispute in the second inning of Galarraga’s start Sunday against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.

Galarraga had finished off the White Sox in the bottom of the first inning when he jogged into the dugout and went directly to Avila, his catcher, to have words. The dispute quickly escalated to the point that several teammates, including Johnny Damon, intervened. Fellow catcher Gerald Laird got involved, initially to break up the incident, then appeared to start arguing with Galarraga as well before shortstop Ramon Santiago pulled Galarraga away and sat him down.

It was an bizarre altercation to have for a pitching-catching battery that had just finished off a scoreless opening inning. Galarraga retired Chicago’s first two batters and had a two-strike count on Paul Konerko before giving up a single to left. Galarraga threw four straight two-seam fastballs to Konerko, according to MLB.com’s Gameday application.

In the larger context of Galarraga’s season, though, the dispute might be a sign of the larger issue the Tigers have had with him: Finding his confidence. Manager Jim Leyland has said often over the last couple weeks that Galarraga has to trust his ability more and pitch more aggressively to hitters rather than nibbling on the corners.

Galarraga worked with Laird in his last start and seemingly battled his command as well as confidence. He missed his spots badly on some pitches, usually more away from the strike zone.

Galaraga has plenty of reason for his own frustration. He’s winless in his last seven starts and entered the day with a 1-4 record and 5.10 ERA in 11 starts since his would-be perfect game June 2.

Sunday: Tigers at White Sox

Brandon Inge is 2-for-15 against Freddy Garcia over the last two years, so he gets the day off. Jhonny Peralta, 4-for-17 off Freddy for his career, gets the start at third. Carlos Guillen is the DH.

TIGERS

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

P: Armando Galarraga

WHITE SOX

  1. Juan Pierre, LF
  2. Alexei Ramirez, SS
  3. Paul Konerko, 1B
  4. Carlos Quentin, RF
  5. Mark Teahen, 3B
  6. Ramon Castro, C
  7. Mark Kotsay, DH
  8. Andruw Jones, CF
  9. Gordon Beckham, 2B

P: Freddy Garcia

Valverde day-to-day with abdominal strain

Tigers closer Jose Valverde was not available for the save situation once the Tigers pulled ahead in the ninth inning Saturday night against the White Sox. He suffered a mild abdominal strain, according to the team, and is considered day-to-day.

Valverde last worked Wednesday against the Rays, recording the final four outs. Manager Jim Leyland said Valverde wasn’t available Friday night, either. Once Detroit took the lead Saturday, Leyland stayed with Phil Coke, who recorded the final out of the eighth to finish off his seventh win of the season.

Leyland said Valverde might be available Sunday.

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