March 2012

Cabrera to return to action Friday

The Tigers decided Miguel Cabrera wasn’t quite ready for a return under the television lights Thursday night. But that should be the end of his wait.

With no full batting practice since taking a high-hopper to his right eye a week and a half ago, manager Jim Leyland and the team medical staff decided to give him one more day to catch up to game speed.

Instead, Cabrera will be back in the lineup Friday, when the Tigers visit the Orioles in Sarasota, Leyland said.

“I’ll play him the rest of the way out if he’s OK,” Leyland said.

Cabrera has missed nine games since the ball in question caused a non-displaced fracture to the orbital floor under his right eye. Doctors cleared him for activity Tuesday after a week of rest, and he began taking ground balls again Wednesday.

Thursday: No Cabrera, but Delmon at DH

Indeed, Miguel Cabrera is going to get at least another day.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Brennan Boesch, RF
  3. Don Kelly, 3B
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B
  5. Delmon Young, DH
  6. Alex Avila, C
  7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  8. Andy Dirks, LF
  9. Ryan Raburn, 2B

P: Max Scherzer

NATIONALS

  1. Steve Lombardozzi, 2B
  2. Xavier Paul, RF
  3. Chad Tracy, DH
  4. Jesus Flores, C
  5. Mark Teahen, LF
  6. Jarrett Hoffpauir, 3B
  7. Corey Brown, CF
  8. Tim Pahuta, 1B
  9. Josh Johnson, SS

P: Mitch Atkins

Tigers option Oliver to Toledo

The battle for the Tigers’ fifth starter job is now down to two pitchers. And neither the perceived favorite going in, nor the perceived favorite from last week, are left in the field.

The Tigers optioned Andy Oliver to Triple-A Toledo on Thursday after two subpar outings, including six earned runs in three-plus innings against the Astros on Tuesday, ruined what had the makings of a breakout spring for the power left-hander.

With Oliver out, the field for the fifth starter is now down to hard-charging prospect Drew Smyly and more experienced left-hander Duane Below. Smyly stayed in the race by pitching 4 2/3 innings with three runs allowed against the Cardinals on Wednesday in Jupiter. Below will get his final audition Friday against the Orioles in Sarasota.

Oliver held Grapefruit League opponents scoreless for his first nine innings this spring, including four innings of one-hit ball against the Mets March 12. His performances seemed to suggest that his mid-summer struggles last season at Triple-A Toledo were behind him, and he was able to command the ball consistently.

However, a five-walk outing against the Twins last Wednesday put that into serious question.

Tuesday’s outing, including seven hits and a 30-pitch second inning, raised too many doubts for the Tigers to break camp with him. His earned-run average, in turn, rose from 0.00 to 5.17 in just over a week.

Oliver will be on his third turn through Toledo. He ended the 2010 season there before spending most of last year in the Mud Hens rotation. He’ll join top pitching prospect Jacob Turner, who appeared to be the favorite for the job until early spring struggles and a bout with shoulder tendinitis put him too far behind.

Cabrera takes ground balls Wednesday

While most of the Tigers position players were on their way to Jupiter to face the Cardinals on Wednesday, Miguel Cabrera took ground balls Wednesday morning at Joker Marchant Stadium as he grew closer to game-ready status.

At this point, it sounds iffy whether he’ll be back in the lineup for Thursday night’s game against the Nationals that will be broadcast back to Detroit on FSN. Cabrera hit in the cage along with Prince Fielder and Delmon Young, but he did not take a full batting practice on the field.

Cabrera shrugged off the question for Thursday, deferring to manager Jim Leyland and the team medical staff.

“If [Leyland] says tomorrow, I’ll be ready,” Cabrera said.

Infield coach Rafael Belliard, for his part, said Cabrera could use one more day of ground balls. The big picture, though, is that Cabrera should be ready soon enough to get back into games down the stretch before the Tigers break camp next Tuesday.

 

Tuesday: Tigers at Astros

Jim Leyland said last Friday that he might look for a game this week to trot out something resembling his Opening Day lineup, most likely against a left-handed pitcher. The Astros have Wandy Rodriguez on the mound today, but with Miguel Cabrera and Delmon Young out, the Tigers don’t really have anything you’d project as a batting order for April 5.

Interestingly, though, Ryan Raburn gets what I think is his first outfield start of the spring. Brandon Inge starts at second, with Danny Worth at third.

“One thing I like about our team, it’s versatile,” Leyland said. “So I’m going to get Delmon off his feet once in a while. I’m going to get Prince off his feet once in a while, Cabrera off his feet, Jhonny Peralta I might DH one day, get him off his feet. That versatility on our team is one thing that I like. Raburn’s flexible, Donnie Kelly’s flexible.

“So if you’re asking me does this team you might see Ryan Raburn in left field this year, you will Ryan Raburn in left field in some scenario. I don’t know what the scenario will be — maybe during the course of a game making a switch and putting him in left. So we figured it was about time to give him a game or two out there.”

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Brennan Boesch, RF
  3. Jhonny Peralta, DH
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B
  5. Ryan Raburn, LF
  6. Alex Avila, C
  7. Brandon Inge, 2B
  8. Ramon Santiago, SS
  9. Danny Worth, 3B

P: Andy Oliver

ASTROS

  1. J.B. Shuck, CF
  2. Jed Lowrie, SS
  3. Brian Bogusevic, RF
  4. Carlos Lee, 1B
  5. Chris Johnson, 3B
  6. Chris Snyder, DH
  7. Matt Downs, LF
  8. Jason Castro, C
  9. Jose Altuve, 2B

P: Wandy Rodriguez

Cabrera cleared for physical activity

Tigers All-Star Miguel Cabrera was cleared by doctors to resume physical activity Tuesday, eight days after an odd bounce on a ground ball cause a fracture below his right eye.

Cabrera was examined by a specialist in Lakeland, close to the Tigers’ Spring Training facility. Once he was cleared, he returned to Joker Marchant Stadium for conditioning drills Tuesday. He’ll resume baseball activities there on Wednesday, the team announced.

No timetable was given for his return to game action, but it’s expected Cabrera should be ready for game action later in the week.The clearance all but ensures Cabrera should be ready for Opening Day April 5 against the Red Sox, a timetable that seemed in question when the play happened.

Cabrera predicted on Monday that he would be ready for the season when talking with reporters.

“I don’t feel any pain, nothing,” Cabrera said. “The next day, I was feeling good. I was a little sore, and swelling, but I was like normal. I was [feeling] like I was going to be OK very soon.”

Cabrera had spent the past week resting at the place he’s staying, watching some television. The only baseball he watched was the replay of the incident, trying to figure out what he could’ve possibly done differently to prevent what happened.

“I [tried to] see if I did something wrong or if something helps me to get better or help me [make sure that] this doesn’t happen again,” he said. “But I don’t have anything [else] do to with the ball. I was in good position. I was right there. And at the last second, I see the ball in my eyes.”

 

Magglio confirms he’s close to retiring

For those wondering if that twitter account from Magglio Ordonez is legit — the one where he tweeted in Spanish that he’s very close to retiring — it is. Ordonez confirmed via email tonight that the tweet came from.

So, indeed, Ordonez is close to retirement, which is sad to hear given what he meant to the Tigers over the years and the fact that ankle fractures ended his season early in back-to-back years. He said in an email that he’s “100 percent healthy” — this was around the time he was expected to be ready for baseball activities and to play in games — but as of now he’s a free agent without a team.

Ordonez turned 38 at the end of January. If he retires, he’ll finish with a .309 batting average over his 15-year Major League career to go with 294 home runs and 1236 RBIs. That won’t get him into the Hall of Fame here, but he ranks among the best hitters ever to come out of Venezuela. His .871 career OPS is better than Andres Galarraga, widely regarded as Venezuela’s greatest hitter. Miguel Cabrera and Carlos Gonzalez could change the group as the years continue.

Young leaves game with sore left knee

Just as the Tigers are hoping to have Miguel Cabrera back in the coming days, they might have a new injury to worry about. Delmon Young left Monday’s game against the Marlins after three innings with a sore left knee.

Young is listed as day-to-day, the team announced.

It’s the first known injury of the spring for Young, who got off to a fast start this spring and raised hopes that he could be in for a big season in his contract year before free agency. He entered the game leading the Grapefruit League with a .422 batting average, 39 total bases and 19 RBIs, while ranking third with five home runs.

Young has split his starts between left field and designated hitter in recent days, mainly so that the Tigers could get time for Andy Dirks and Clete Thomas in their competition for the final roster spot. He started in left field Monday but didn’t seem to strain his knee on any particular play.

Young’s fast start, plus the Tigers’ outfield depth, means Detroit shouldn’t be in a bind if he has to miss a few days down the stretch this spring.

Cabrera: “I’ll be ready. Don’t worry.”

Miguel Cabrera won’t be re-examined by doctors until Tuesday morning, which will determine whether he’s cleared to play in time for the season. The way he’s feeling, though, leaves very little doubt in his mind.

“I’ll be ready. Don’t worry,” Cabrera said.

Cabrera said he has no pain in his right eye. The swelling is down, and he said his vision is fine. The only signs of lingering damage from the high-hopper he took a week ago are the stitches and the scar under his right eye.

Cabrera basically came to the ballpark Monday because he’s bored. He can’t do any physical activity until doctors. He also wanted to see some of his old friends on the Miami Marlins.

“I want to see Hanley,” he said. “I want to see Ozzie. I want to say hi to all my friends on the other side. I say hi to my friends here. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be here for practice.”

With all the free time on his hands, Cabrera said he has watched the replay of his fateful play several times. He wanted to see if there was anything he did incorrectly. He can’t find it.

“I was in good position. I was right there,” Cabrers said. “At the last second, I see the ball in my eyes.”

Monday: Tigers vs. Marlins

Yes, the Tigers sent out Audy Ciriaco this morning, but he’s sticking around for a day to start at third base while Brandon Inge serves as the designated hitter.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Brennan Boesch, RF
  3. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B
  5. Delmon Young, LF
  6. Alex Avila, C
  7. Ryan Raburn, 2B
  8. Brandon Inge, DH
  9. Audy Ciriaco, 3B

P: Rick Porcello

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