June 12th, 2011

Magglio up, Gonzalez down, Wilk remains

The roster move to make room for Magglio Ordonez’s return was never really a question. The Tigers had an extra reliever in the bullpen that they didn’t need after getting out of Texas in fair shape. The reliever that was headed out, however, might have been a surprise.

Adam Wilk came up a week ago as a fill-in reliever once David Purcey went on paternity leave. It could’ve just been for a day. It might be a while now.

Though Enrique Gonzalez was a veteran long reliever who could warm up in a hurry and eat innings, the Tigers see a chance for Wilk to learn the ropes of relief up in the big leagues. Thus, the Tigers outrighted Gonzalez to Triple-A Toledo to make room for Ordonez, and kept Wilk up.

That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s here for the long haul. Brad Thomas will begin his Minor League rehab assignment at Triple-A Toledo on Tuesday, and there’s nothing clear yet how that will shake out. But Wilk has an opportunity.

“He’s done OK,” manager Jim Leyland said. “He’s ideally probably a left-handed long guy, to break him in the right way. Probably not necessarily good for the team, but probably good for him. He’s an ideal left-handed long guy if you get behind early. It’s not because you don’t like him, but because that’s how he can get some experience with a little less pressure on him.”

Leyland noted that it’s the way they broke in Charlie Furbush. Now, Furbush has the opportunity for some other situations as a third lefty reliever behind David Purcey and Daniel Schlereth, who retired his first hitter and walked another in the eighth inning before Miguel Olivo homered off Joaquin Benoit’s first pitch.

“Left-handed relief pitchers cannot walk left-handed hitters,” Leyland said.

He said it was a general philosophy, rather than directed at anyone in particular. Still, it was clear what he meant.

Sunday: Tigers vs. Mariners

Same lineup as Saturday night, only with Victor Martinez at catcher and Alex Avila at DH. Jim Leyland says he doesn’t like to do it, but he wants both bats in the lineup against Felix Hernandez.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Don Kelly, 2B
  3. Brennan Boesch, RF
  4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  5. Victor Martinez, C
  6. Andy Dirks, LF
  7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  8. Alex Avila, DH
  9. Ramon Santiago, 2B

P: Rick Porcello

MARINERS

  1. Ichiro Suzuki, RF
  2. Brendan Ryan, SS
  3. Justin Smoak, 1B
  4. Jack Cust, DH
  5. Carlos Peguero, LF
  6. Miguel Olivo, C
  7. Franklin Gutierrez, CF
  8. Chone Figgins, 3B
  9. Jack Wilson, 2B

P: Felix Hernandez

Reactions to Tigers’ share of division lead

How much stock do the Tigers put in moving into a virtual tie atop the AL Central in June? Depends on who you ask.

  • Alex Avila: “It’s nice to get there. It definitely means something, because that’s what we’re working towards. We want to win as many games as possible and be in first place [at season's end]. That’s the goal. But at this point, that’s not something we’re focused on. We’re trying to win the game that day.”
  • Brennan Boesch: “It feels good. It’s a long way to go obviously, but the Indians were playing such good baseball early on that it just shows that this team, when we put our heads down and play hard, that we can be a force to be reckoned with and it feels good to be there right now.”
  • Max Scherzer: “Yeah, it feels good, but we’ve got [about] 100 games left. That’s a lot of games. A lot of things can happen. But you’ve got to love the talent on this team. You’ve got to love what our offense is doing, love what our pitching staff’s doing. We’re in a real good position, and we’re starting to really come on strong. I definitely like our team.”
  • Austin Jackson: “It definitely is [a sense of satisfaction], but we’ve still got a long way to go. We understand that. We just need to keep playing good baseball and just take care of what we can take care of.”

How Peralta and Santiago nabbed Figgins

Peralta holds onto Halman's ground ball. (Getty Images)The Mariners made no secret they were going to be aggressive on the basepaths and take advantage of the Tigers napping. Brendan Ryan took second base in the series opener when the Tigers forgot to cover it after his single. Chone Figgins stretched out a double the next night when the Tigers outfield didn’t expect it.

Come the fifth inningSaturday, when Greg Halman dribbled a slow grounder to short that both Jhonny Peralta and Don Kelly tried to charge, Peralta and Ramon Santiago were thinking what Figgins was thinking.

“I was anticipating Peralta, he made a good fake,” Santiago said. “Nobody’s on third base, because Kelly and Peralta both went to get the ball. But Peralta knows he doesn’t have a chance at first, so he kind of faked, and that was the key play.”

Figgins fell for it and rounded second, leaving Peralta with a rundown to execute for the third out. It was a huge play, because it turned what would’ve been an at-bat for Ichiro with two men on into Ichiro leading off the sixth inning and having to start something. If Ichiro’s triple happens in the fifth rather than the sixth, it’s a whole different ballgame.

It was one of the better displays of awareness all season from the Tigers by a double-play combo that doesn’t get to play together very often.

“Figgins, he’s a very good baserunner. He likes to take advantage of mistakes. When you don’t pay attention to them, they take advantage.”

Magglio finishes rehab, heading back to Detroit

Word from John Wagner of the Toledo Blade is that Magglio Ordonez’s rehab assignment is complete. Both Ordonez and Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin said after tonight’s game that Ordonez will return to Detroit on Sunday for one more evaluation. He’s expected to have Sunday off, then be activated from the disabled list in time for Monday’s game against the Rays.

Ordonez finished up his rehab with a 3-for-5 performance, including his second home run in as many nights. His timing appears to be better than it was a few days ago. He went 11-for-39 with two homers and a double over nine games as a Hen.

Jim Leyland said Saturday afternoon it will not be a tough decision on who goes out to make room for Ordonez on the 25-man roster. In other words, they won’t have an extra reliever anymore on Monday.

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