October 7th, 2010

Magglio to play winter ball?

There was no response from the Tigers Thursday to a report that Magglio Ordonez could be playing winter ball this year to prove the recovery of his ankle. But it appears that if Magglio is indeed playing winter ball, it’s news to them.

Especially in Venezuela, this is the time of year when a lot of winter ball rumors pop up. Carlos Guillen seems to pop up in those rumors annually. The reports on Ordonez seem to be varied coming out a media gathering for the Caribes de Anzotegui. After a radio reporter in Venezuela reported that Ordonez could be available as soon as mid-November, the Venezuelan publication Lider en Deportes cited club officials saying Ordonez might be available in early December. Given the recovery timetable for Ordonez following his August ankle surgery, the later report seems more realistic.

Normally, any report of a prominent Major Leaguer under long-term contract playing winter ball has to be taken with a grain of salt. Venezuelan players get a ton of pressure from home to play and help out their respective teams, and a lot of times they’ll leave the possibility open for reporters, knowing that their big-league clubs will be the bad guy and say they can’t play.

Ordonez used to fall under that category. Now, though, he’s a free agent, and there’s a motivation for him to play this winter. If he can how his ankle is healthy and moving around relatively well, he can answer some serious questions, for the Tigers and other teams, while it can still affect contract negotiations. If Ordonez plans on playing in December, and Major League scouts plan to watch him, that backs up the notion that he will not be a quick sign, which seemingly backs up the possibility that the Tigers could move on without him if the right opportunity pops up.