February 16th, 2011

Day 3 notes: Furbush makes early impression

Charlie Furbush didn’t come into camp with nearly the hype of fellow Tigers pitching prospects Jacob Turner and Andy Oliver. But he comes in with a massive strikeout total, a very deceptive delivery and a good reputation.

He has the manager’s attention.

“I’m real interested to see him,” manager Jim Leyland said Wednesday morning. “I got a very interesting report on him from somebody who’s not with the Tigers, how much progress he’s made in the last year or so.”

Leyland talked quite a bit about Furbush this morning — not really as a guy fighting to make the team out of this camp, but as one of the young starters trying to put himself in a position for an in-season call-up if injuries or other issues force the Tigers to dip into the farm system for another starter.

They are not looking at him at this point as a lefty reliever, Leyland indicated.

“I think we’re focusing on him as a starting pitcher,” Leyland said. “That’s what he’s been, and we’re thinking along those lines.”

If Furbush isn’t among the lefty relief candidates, that reduces the pool a bit. Daniel Schlereth is obviously a big part of it, as is long reliever Brad Thomas. The other lefties in camp include non-roster  guys Fu-Te Ni, Adam Wilk and John Bale.

But it also puts a little more depth into the Tigers’ starting ranks. Detroit’s insurance starters appeared limited to Oliver and Turner, barring a spot start or two from Thomas, but Leyland emphasized they have some depth.

“We think we’ve got more depth than a lot of people think we have,” Leyland said.

Other notes:

  • Leyland said he went into the weight room to get in a morning workout around 7 am. He found Brad Penny already into his workout. “He’s working his [tail] off,” Leyland said. “I went up to him and said, ‘You’re a young guy yet.'”
  • Justin Verlander said today he’s going to be tough on himself in his bullpen sessions and game outings this spring as he tries to get himself ready for his best form in April. Physically, his offseason and springs workouts haven’t been any different, but his mental preparation and focus are way different.
  • Brandon Inge isn’t in camp yet, but there’s a present waiting on his chair in the clubhouse. Somebody found one of his old chest protectors (it has his name on it) from his catching days and put it on there with a note: “Pudge wanted to make sure you had gear this year. Just in case!”
  • One good piece of news about Phil Coke’s conversion to starting: It should be a little safer for fans in the stands. One teammate suggested Coke led the Majors in long toss overthrows into the seats. Coke counted three fans he hit by accident.
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