March 2011

Zumaya could begin throwing next week

The Tigers left Carlos Guillen and Joel Zumaya behind as they departed Lakeland Tuesday morning, but there’s some renewed hope that he’ll be back in a reasonable amount of time. Head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said Zumaya is scheduled to visit Dr. James Andrews on Monday in hopes of being cleared to resume throwing.

The plan when Dr. Andrews prescribed a couple weeks of rest was that Zumaya would see the good doctor again before throwing again, once the inflammation subsided. Three weeks have passed, but the Tigers have made it a point to play it cautious on their hard-throwing setup man.

Zumaya continues to work on a strengthening program back in Lakeland.

“He’s doing very well,” Rand said of Zumaya. “His range of motion has improved. His strength has improved.”

Zumaya hasn’t thrown off a mound since his only Spring Training outing Feb. 27, so he’s going to have to go through the throwing progression (play catch, long toss, bullpen sessions) before getting back into game action, either in extended Spring Training or on a rehab assignment.

Still, given the way Leyland has mentioned the challenge of replacing Zumaya in the bullpen, the sooner they can get him back, the better. Even if they didn’t take for granted he’d be back, losing him for the start of the season made a big difference in the makeup of the bullpen. Replace, say, Brayan Villarreal with Zumaya, and the seventh inning looks vastly different.

Dave Dombrowski said Tuesday morning that Zumaya and Guillen will be officially placed on the disabled list Wednesday. They’re expected to go on the 15-day DL, rather than the 60-day version. They’ll also make room on the 40-man roster Wednesday for Enrique Gonzalez, who made the team as a reliever after coming to camp as a non-roster invitee.

Tuesday: Tigers at Yankees

Before these two teams go at it for real, they’re going to go through the Spring Training version here at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Look for the regulars to play about six innings, according to Jim Leyland, before giving way to some of the minor leaguers they’ve brought over.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Will Rhymes
  3. Magglio Ordonez
  4. Miguel Cabrera
  5. Victor Martinez, DH
  6. Brennan Boesch, LF
  7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  8. Alex Avila, C
  9. Brandon Inge, 3B

Starting pitcher: Rick Porcello

YANKEES

  1. Brett Gardner, CF
  2. Derek Jeter, SS
  3. Mark Teixeira, 1B
  4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
  5. Robinson Cano, 2B
  6. Nick Swisher, RF
  7. Jorge Posada, DH
  8. Andruw Jones, LF
  9. Russell Martin, C

Starting pitcher: Freddy Garcia

Scherzer: “I’ve got to fix things”

Today had all the makings of a throwaway outing for Max Scherzer: Last outing of the spring, overcast day, roster set, team heads north tomorrow, Orioles hitters strike early. But it sounds like something more to Scherzer.

Instead, it sounds like a mechanical issue, the kind he had to fight through last year.

“I’m not going to write anything off,” he said after giving up more runs (11 earned) and hits (9) than he recorded outs (7). “I wanted to be dialed in today, and I wasn’t. I look forward to making the adjustments I need to make going into my first start.”

Asked what it was, Scherzer said it was mechanical.

“I was really flying open today,” he said. “Everything was finishing off onto the first-base side of the mound. I just couldn’t make the necessary adjustment during the game to fix that. I definitely didn’t have it today.”

He obviously doesn’t have any spring training starts to get it, but he has an extra day of rest before his first start of the regular season Sunday at Yankee Stadium. That should be key for him.

“I think I’ve got a couple things I’m doing wrong,” he said. “Fortunately, I’ve been in this situation before, and I know it only takes one bullpen [session] to fix it.”

That side session, Scherzer indicated, comes Wednesday, when the Tigers have their workout at Yankee Stadium. Until then, he’s going to watch video.

“I’m going to have a long bullpen here,” he said. “I’m really going to work on some things, so that’s going to help.”

The tone in his voice sounded very much like somebody who’s already in regular-season mode, not somebody getting his work in. That’s the Scherzer intensity we came to expect last year. It can lead to him being really tough on himself, and it can lead to him becoming very focused.

“It is what it is,” Scherzer said of the outing. “Spring Training’s over. Now it’s the season. I wish I could’ve had a better Spring Training. I didn’t. But at the end of the day, it’s the season. That’s the only thing that matters now is how you pitch during the season. My slider is better than it ever was last year. I’m very confident in that. So going into the season, I’m confident that I can pitch well.”

Monday: Tigers at Orioles

I know I’m a little late on this, but Sarasota and the Orioles did an amazing job renovating Ed Smith Stadium. Looks kind of like what Lakeland did with Joker Marchant Stadium back in 2002. Totally different place.

Nothing big on the lineups today, even though the Tigers face another lefty starter. Ryan Raburn slots into the fifth spot with Victor Martinez off, while Ramon Santiago gets a start at short.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Will Rhymes, 2B
  3. Magglio Ordonez, DH
  4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  5. Ryan Raburn, LF
  6. Casper Wells, RF
  7. Brandon Inge, 3B
  8. Alex Avila, C
  9. Ramon Santiago, SS

Starting pitcher: Max Scherzer

ORIOLES

  1. Brian Roberts, 2B
  2. Nick Markakis, RF
  3. Derrek Lee, 1B
  4. Vladimir Guerrero, DH
  5. Luke Scott, LF
  6. Adam Jones, CF
  7. Mark Reynolds, 3B
  8. Jake Fox, C
  9. J.J. Hardy, SS

Starting pitcher: Zach Britton

Martinez: Pitch wasn’t “with good intention”

Just finished talking a little bit ago with Victor Martinez, who didn’t want to say much about the inside pitch from Jose Valdez that prompted him to shout at him. But while Martinez didn’t get into what was said, his views on the pitch were pretty clear.

“It was a pitch that I don’t think was with good intention,” Martinez said. “That’s it.”

Valdez apparently said he wasn’t trying to hit anyone. But given this late stage of Spring Training, the last thing any hitter probably wants to see is an inside pitch that could knock them out of opening day. So when that pitch comes after a Miguel Cabrera home run, nerves get a little frazzled.

Back up and running

Sorry about the blog being down for the past few days. We switched to a new system and had some technical difficulties. Looks like we’re back up and running now. Trust me, the new system should be worth the initial trouble.

Test

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Tigers make cuts, set roster

In the end, the impression that so many young Tigers made in 2010 stood for something when it came time to decide who breaks camp with the club in 2011.
Brennan Boesch and Casper Wells will head north as Detroit’s extra outfielders, both of whom manager Jim Leyland will try to keep fresh with a diet of at-bats. Enrique Gonzalez, the relief candidate from which Leyland knew what to expect, will get the first chance as a long reliever.
Danny Worth, Andy Dirks and Adam Wilk, meanwhile, will head to Triple-A Toledo and wait for their shot. With their cuts from camp Saturday morning — Worth was optioned to Triple-A Toledo, while Dirks and Wilk were assigned to Minor League camp — the Tigers’ 25-man roster is complete. Unless Detroit makes a trade or waiver pickup between in the next few days, and Leyland said they have “nothing going on” at the moment, this is the group that will take on the Yankees next Thursday in the Bronx.
The one player going there without a Major League game to his credit is reliever Brayan Villarreal, who essentially gets his chance with Joel Zumaya opening the season on the disabled list.
“I have a couple concerns, obviously, but I really like our team,” manager Jim Leyland said. “And if guys do characteristically what they’ve done over their career, and I’m speaking more about the veteran guys that we have, we’re going to be pretty good.”
If Boesch and Wells can find their best forms from 2010 — Boesch’s form coming in the first half of the year, Wells more from the stretch run — it would be big. That played no small part in Leyland’s decision.
Leyland’s first positional choice was whether to take two outfielders or go with one along with Worth. That was apparently decided earlier in the week.
“He kind of let me know a couple days ago,” Worth said Saturday.
Once that was decided, the Tigers had to weigh Dirks’ torrid spring against what Boesch and Wells have already shown in the regular season, as well as this spring. Since Wells bats right-handed, he had the advantage of fitting into the lineup against left-handed pitching, when Victor Martinez could catch and Magglio Ordonez could shift to designated hitter.
“When you start making the case for Rhymes — because when he got the opportunity, he took advantage of it — I think even though the second half wasn’t good at all, you still have to make the case for Boesch,” Leyland said.”He had 14 home runs with 67 RBIs as a rookie.”
If he didn’t think he could find at-bats for Boesch, Leyland said, he wouldn’t have taken him. As it is, he’ll get some at-bats in left field, mixed in with Ryan Raburn.
Dirks, whose prospect status rose with a breakthrough season last year at Double-A, hit his way into serious consideration for a reserve outfield spot. He entered Saturday tied for the team lead in hits and third in at-bats, going 19-for-57 with four doubles, three triples, a home run and nine RBIs. He’ll head to Toledo in a similar position Boesch had last year before an injury to Carlos Guillen created an opportunity in mid-April.
“Now I have to carry it into the season,” Dirks said. “It doesn’t mean anything [unless he keeps hitting at Toledo].”
Dirks could potentially play into all three outfield spots at Toledo.
Worth batted .333 (12-for-36) with six doubles, a triple and seven RBIs. He hit his way into the mix for the Tigers’ second-base opening that Will Rhymes will fill starting out. Ramon Santiago will back up at second, while Don Kelly has the capability of playing there. Worth, meanwhile, is expected to play several infield spots at Toledo, with a good amount of games at third base.
Wilk had built an impressive case for himself as a potential third left-hander in the Tigers bullpen, having allowed only one run over 12 2/3 innings before Friday night. Leyland said he had made his roster choices before Friday, which would mean Wilk’s four-run, three-inning start against the Braves Friday night would’ve had no impact on his chances.
“To come so close to making the big-league roster and then to get called in and hear they’re sending you to the minors, it’s a tough feeling,” Wilk said. “It’s tough to hear that.”
Wilk’s situation was part of the challenge facing Leyland in filling out his bullpen without Joel Zumaya, who will open the season on the disabled list with no current timetable for a return.
“You have to remember that Zumaya was a void, so somebody had to take that spot,” Leyland said, “and it probably ended up being Villarreal.”
Villarreal owns just eight games of experience above Class A ball, all of them starts, but his aggressive pitching and mid-90s fastball made an immediate impression on Leyland.
“He’s got a real quick arm, he’s very athletic and he’s not scared,” Leyland said. “The true test will be: When they rough him up, how does he respond? But I think he’s a tough nut. I like him a lot.”

Worth, Dirks, Wilk cut, setting Tigers roster

Friday: Tigers at Braves

When Brandon Inge batted ninth last night, Leyland wasn’t really saying much about where he might bat in the lineup come regular season. There’s a point of view, there’s an advantage of having someone with at least some speed — not great speed by any means, but still better than Alex Avila — batting at the bottom of the order. That’s something Jim Leyland has talked about in the past.

It doesn’t really apply today, since the Braves wouldn’t agree to use the DH. Thus, the pitcher’s spot is open, which could make it interesting if Leyland wants to get Adam Wilk, Enrique Gonzalez, Brayan Villarreal and Daniel Schlereth multiple innings each. Some pitcher might get to stand at the plate and hold the bat.
TIGERS
  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Will Rhymes, 2B
  3. Magglio Ordonez, RF
  4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  5. Victor Martinez, C
  6. Ryan Raburn, LF
  7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  8. Brandon Inge, 3B
  9. Adam Wilk, P
BRAVES
  1. Alex Gonzalez, SS
  2. Jason Heyward, RF
  3. Chipper Jones, 3B
  4. Dan Uggla, 2B
  5. Eric Hinske, 1B
  6. David Ross, C
  7. Joe Mather, LF
  8. Matt Young, CF
  9. Brandon Beachy, P
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