February 19th, 2011

Valverde is going to have a pitch count

If there was a lasting image to the Tigers’ second-half fade from contention other than the injuries to Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen last year, it might’ve been Jose Valverde’s 60-pitch marathon to finish off a July 30 win at Boston. He needed every one of those pitches to turn what had been a 6-1 lead into a 6-5 loss, and he didn’t seem to be the same after that.

That kind of outing won’t happen again in 2011.

“If his pitch count gets to a certain point, I’m going to take him out,” manager Jim Leyland said Saturday morning.

Doesn’t matter the situation or the state of the bullpen after that. Leyland wouldn’t say that the pitch count would be, but he indicated it would be a firm limit.

Valverde had two 38-pitch outings on top of the infamous 60-pitch affair, though one of them was an extra-inning battle at Minnesota Sept. 2 in which he lasted three innings. Generally speaking, if he entered a game in the eighth inning to close it out, he was open for trouble.

Leyland didn’t want to do it, but Joel Zumaya’s season-ending injury and other problems, including Phil Coke’s workload, left him without many late-inning arms he could count on. With Joaquin Benoit now on board to go with Ryan Perry and Joel Zumaya, depth shouldn’t be a problem if everybody’s healthy.

“He’ll be protected,” Leyland said of Valverde. “All our pitchers are.”

Valverde missed his third consecutive day of work Saturday with flu-like symptoms. Leyland said he hopes to have Valverde back Sunday.

Dombowski quotes on Cabrera

Full story on MLB.com, and the video should follow soon, but here are some other quotes from Dave Dombrowski:

“He wants to be here. He feels terrible, I guess would be the way to describe it, something happened that he’s not here. But he understands the importance of making sure this is properly evaluated and he’s helped. Everybody’s in agreement with that.”

On rumors whether the Tigers might try to alter Cabrera’s contract, Dombrowski said: “There’s a lot of contract language out there, but what’s out there at this point, there’s no language that [would be altered]. And we’re not trying to do anything.”

On whether Dombrowski is disappointed: “I don’t think that’s the word you use. I don’t use that word. First of all, I know a lot more than anybody else does at this point. I think anytime you deal with alcoholism and an addiction, and I’ve been doing this for a long time in my career, you realize it’s an ongoing battle. It’s not easy. And if it’s a player or it’s personal, it’s hard. What sets somebody off at a certain time to take a drink, I’m not wise enough to know that, but it happens. You need to make sure that the player or the person continues to follow the program. And that’s why people sometimes have been through this many, many times. I don’t set the program. Whatever doctors have ever recommended to me in the past, we always follow. And I bet you I’ve been involved in 20-25 cases throughout my career. But it’s one of those where we will help him take care of his problem, because I know he has a problem.”

On Cabrera’s status for the regular season: “The regular season’s a while away yet. Even if you deal with most programs, most of them are 30-day programs. And I’m not saying that’s what he’s going into.”

On any potential discipline from MLB: “I cannot speak for them, but I would be surprised, because usually Major League Baseball, in talking to them, there are processes that are negotiated through the Association, what steps are involved, and if players are cooperative in what they need to do.”

On the idea of having someone with him, as Josh Hamilton does: “He has had people that have been with him a lot during the season last year. He had a lot of people with him all the time, really. He had somebody with him almost all year long, on the road and in Detroit. He had different people. He didn’t have one individual assigned to him. And his representatives, Diego Bentz and Fernando Cuza, they’re extremely cooperative in working with this. They want to help.”

“One of the things when you deal with these things are routines. How do you deal with them? And sometimes, when you get away from routines, I know myself, I always worry a little bit more. During the season, I don’t worry as much, because we have somebody there all the time. We’ve got almost, between the players, staff members, between people that were with him, family members, his wife is very much involved, there’s almost somebody with him all the time. But I always have more worries in the wintertime, and that’s why you stay on the phone with people and call and kind of find out. I don’t call the player, because the player can tell you anything that they would like to. Not just in this circumstance but in others, I don’t call the player. I call people that are around him at that time.”

On where Cabrera was going: “He was coming here at the time. And his car broke down. … He was on his way here and the radiator blew up. … He was on his way. He had just left his home a couple hours before that. He was driving. I didn’t know that exactly at the time.”

Cabrera not in camp, undergoing evaluation

Miguel Cabrera was not in camp with the Tigers on the first day of full-squad workouts Saturday, and he isn’t expected to report until at least the middle of next week. The All-Star slugger will meet in South Florida with doctors, who will determine the next course of action for him.

Team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski made the announcement Saturday morning.

“We had conversations yesterday … between the Commissioner’s Office, the Players Association, myself and Miguel’s representative,” Dombrowski said, “and basically, we’ve all decided that it’s best he be continuing to visit and really find out what’s taken place, and be in a position where [doctors] can meet with him and completely assess what has taken place.

“Until that happens, we’ve all decided that it’s better for him to do that away from camp, even though he would love to be here and is capable of playing at this point. But he even acknowledges that he’ll do whatever he needs to do, and is willing to work with everybody for whatever needs to be done. There’s complete cooperation with all of the groups. We’re all on the same pages. The doctor that does the evaluation will be coordinated by the Commissioner’s Office and the Players Association, and he’ll make his recommendation on what needs to be done.”

Cabrera was arrested late Wednesday night in Fort Pierce, Fla., on charges of suspicion driving under the influence and resisting an officer without violence. After talking with Cabrera on Friday, Dombrowski determined that Cabrera was trying to drive to Lakeland that night when the radiator broke down.

“He realizes he’s had an alcohol problem in the past that he’s addressed, and has worked through, and he fell off of that program,” Dombrowski said. “He acknowledges that and will do what’s necessary to get him back on track.”

Dombrowski said he would not speculate on whether Cabrera might go into a treatment program.