Phil Coke: No excuses

Phil Coke was asked before Thursday’s game about the feeling of going back out to the bullpen after working all spring to become a starter.

“It’s kind of like a reunion,” Coke said.

It was a familiar spot, but unfamiliar results when he entered.

Coke admitted it was “a little bit weird” being back in relief, but wouldn’t use that as an excuse for the 2-0 fastball he threw to Curtis Granderson, who sent it out to right field for a go-ahead home run. He didn’t make his pitches, he said, and in his eyes, he ended up costing them the game.

“I knew who I was facing,” Coke said. “It wasn’t about who I was facing. I just didn’t make my pitches, and I paid for it.”

Coke wouldn’t use the cold weather as a reason, either.

“So what? I can’t control that,” Coke said. “My job is to go out there and throw strikes, and I didn’t to the first guy I faced. And he ended up leaving the yard on me because I couldn’t throw a strike.”

Leyland said he turned to Coke in the seventh because of his experience. He said in the final days of Spring Training that there was one inning in the game that worried him. He wouldn’t say which, but given the way his bullpen shakes out and where Joel Zumaya would’ve fit, it isn’t a stretch to see the seventh as that inning.

“Really he was really our veteran guy down there,” Leyland said. “We felt like we might as well take advantage of that going into this game. He’s not going to pitch until [April] 9th, and he has the experience coming out of there moreso than some of the other guys. What happened to him is he just got behind Granderson and he left no doubt what was coming, and Grandy just kind of charged it.”

It’ll be interesting to see how Coke handles this, and the next week or so until he prepares for his April 9 start. Part of the challenge for him this spring was to shed the reliever’s mentality of focusing everything on one inning, and now he has to go back to it. He made the full-out sprint from the bullpen to the mound after God Bless America, and he was obviously beating himself up over the home run. That mentality, like his relief role, has to be temporary.

12 Comments

Phil Coke is a stand up guy, which is one of his many characteristics that endear him to Tiger fans. Since he is scheduled to pitch on 4/9 it would seem like a two or three inning stint on 4/3 or 4/4 would have been a better time to use him. Of course, that could still happen.

Today we were victims of the way events occurred in the sixth inning. When JL had Coke start throwing he was protecting against the Yankees knocking out JV. When JV wiggled out of that jam and reached his pitch limit, the Yanks had Grandy and Gardner coming up in the seventh so it became a “no brainer”.

glad I got the clarification, was curious why Coke was brought in for a relief stint.

rough way to start the year, but many games left to play.

As a wry nod to all those Tiger fans out there who think the season is already over, I’ll offer this:
We LOST!!!! Now we’ll have to go 85-76 to make my prediction! It can’t be done! :-)

They will never do it, Rich!

One game at the outset obviously means very little. In the end we have seen it can mean a very lot.
It’s the way we lost that makes me cringe. Perhaps this team will evolve into what we consider a good team. One that never feels as though they can lose. There is some talent here no question but do we have the character? Do we have the team unity? Faith in teammates and determination? Without those components a team rarely reaches championship caliber.
On another note,right now we have a skipper who is relying on a rookie, an untested outfielder and two sophmores to fill regular spots in the lineup. That’s a lot to ask.

Here we go. I didnt get a chance to post yesterday. I know I am not a regular poster on here, but I am a daily reader of every post. It a part of daily routine to read what everybody writes. It is great for the sanity so thank you to all you regular posters. Hopefully, I will write a little more often this year.

It is one game and one game can mean alot when it is said and done, but these are not the key games. Our boys can win anywhere from 80 – 92 games this year, but one thing has to change if we want to aspire to the upper end of that range. It has been mentioned before on this site by many people so I am not stating anything new.
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The divisional record must be better. The urgency on these games must change. The White Sox cannot keep coming into Comerica Park acting like they own the place. We have to make our own breaks against the Twins because it wasn’t just the Metrodome that did us in. They beat us pretty good in Target Field last year too. This urgency has to come from the players but it has to start with JL. No more giving 3 regulars an offday on a Wednesday afternoon game when Thursday is an off day. This is a regular occurence with JL and it drives me crazy. (But he played Inge on two wonky knees every day for 3 months in 09). Our gun must be fully loaded for every series against Chicago and Minnesota and that means the best lineup (god love Don Kelly, but he can’t be hitting third in any games in those series), with the hottest hitters and our best starting pitching. JV needs to pitch in almost every one of those series. Those games are too important. In hockey, they are called 4 point games. It is no different in baseball.
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That is why Minnesota has won so many divisions in the past decade. Their divisional record is great. They get it. Until we get that, we will continue to be frustrated. Who cares if you go 15-3 in Interleague play if your division record is sub 500. Everything is about the games in the division. If we win the season series against Chicago and Minnesota and dont take Cleveland and KC lightly, the division is ours.
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That sounds like an obvious statement, but the way those games have been approached in the past I would say that it is not that obvious to management (please introduce Exhibit Game 161 into evidence).
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I hope we can do it and I do believe we have very good talent on this team. We have our warts, but most teams do. We need breaks, but we need to make our breaks.
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88-74 is my prediction and it could be good enough to win but it will be a 3 team dogfight until the finals weeks I suspect.
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Go Tigers
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Bob Y

Couldn’t have said it better myself, Bob. In fact, I did say some of it. :-) I like the hockey analogy of the 4-point game. I remember in 1968 a lot was made of games with Baltimore being worth two games in the standings. We need that kind of thinking. There were instances last season when the rotation was being adjusted and it was a perfect opportunity for JL to line up Verlander and his best against Minnesota. He didn’t do it, opting instead to stick with the rotation as set. That’s what I mean by sticking that season blueprint in a drawer. It’s especially frustrating because it doesn’t take on-field talent to make smart decisions as manager, and you can win some games with good choices.

You never , never hit and run with two on base and no out unless you are Leyland. Chicago 2006., Guillen did it. Triple play

What happened to the running that Leyland talked about this spring? Jackson and Rhymes on base nobody out Maggs up, perfect time to hit and run. But NO not Leyland he just talks about it. If the runners are going we have Cabrera up with the bases loaded and nobody out. Those are the kind of non moves that will cost us this season!

Why Avila against a lefty?Or a righty for that matters . He belongs in aa at most.He ousted Gallarraga and is playing there because is family
Martinez was due as catcher. Wells at dh and Rhymes at 9

Phil Coke…Toledo bound?? Cant beat the Mariners??? lol triple A pitcher at best

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