April 2012

Tigers-Royals rained out, rescheduled for Sept. 24

With the radar showing a steady line of showers coming through this evening, the Tigers postponed Monday’s series opener against the Royals. They’ll make it up as a single game on Monday, Sept. 24, which was a common off-day for both teams before the Royals’ third and final visit to Detroit Sept. 25-27.

Thus, the Tigers’ final homestand is now 10 games in 10 days. They’ll also close out their regular season with 16 straight games following their final scheduled off-day Sept. 17.

That could have a minor effect on the Tigers’ playoff push if those games still mean anything, or even if the Tigers are cruising to the playoffs at that point. Shorter-term, the postponement makes a big difference in the rotation.

While the Royals are pushing their starters back a day, the Tigers are scratching Duane Below and sending him back to the bullpen. The way manager Jim Leyland talked about Doug Fister’s road to return, this was sounding like a spot start for Below regardless.

If Fister gets through Wednesday’s rehab start for Triple-A Toledo well enough, Leyland said Monday afternoon, he’ll likely start Monday for the Tigers in their series opener in Seattle. It’ll be his first meeting with the Mariners since Seattle traded him to Detroit last July.

Below, meanwhile, moves back to the bullpen, which is where Leyland valued him most the way he was pitching.

Rick Porcello, who was already scheduled to pitch Tuesday, will still pitch Tuesday. He’ll just be pitching opposite Luke Hochevar instead of Jonathan Sanchez. Justin Verlander will pitch opposite Sanchez Wednesday afternoon.

MLB suspends Young for seven days

Delmon Young has been suspended by Major League Baseball for seven days, retroactive to Friday, and will undergo a treatment program for after an evaluation from an independent doctor Monday.

The recommendation is one of the first applications of the disciplinary program under MLB’s new Basic Agreement, which states that players involved in alcohol-related offenses should be sent to Major League Baseball’s Employee Assistance Program for diagnosis and treatment.

The Tigers placed Young on MLB’s Restricted List on Saturday until an independent doctor could evaluate him Monday. He’ll remain on the list until he’s eligible to be activated on Friday.

“Those associated with our game should meet the responsibilities and standards that stem from our game’s stature as a social institution,” Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement.  “An incident like this cannot and will not be tolerated.  I understand that Mr. Young is regretful, and it is my expectation that he will learn from this unfortunate episode.”

Young is accused of aggravated harassment after being arrested early Friday morning for an incident outside the Hilton hotel in midtown Manhattan. The misdemeanor charge is also being investigated for possible hate-crime violations involving race/religion, for accusations he used anti-Semitic language in yelling at a group of tourists outside the hotel.

Young spent most of Friday going through processing and arraignment until he was released Friday evening on $5,000 bail. His next hearing is tentatively scheduled for May 29 in New York County Criminal Court in Manhattan.

On the field, Tigers manager Jim Leyland has said he’ll fill left field with a mix of Don Kelly and Andy Dirks, with Ryan Raburn also getting an occasional start against left-handed pitchers. All three started a game in left over the weekend against the Yankees, and Kelly is starting there for Monday’s series.

Young was being paid while he was on the restricted list. Now that he is suspended, he’ll miss out on that portion of his $6.75 million salary.

Monday: Tigers vs. Royals

No word yet on Delmon Young, who was expected to be evaluated today by an independent doctor after his arrest early Friday morning. The Tigers released their lineup already.

Don Kelly is starting in left field for tonight’s series opener against Kansas City. Andy Dirks is the DH. No Brad Eldred in the lineup after he went 2-for-13 with an RBI triple against the Yankees over the weekend.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF (6-for-19 off Hochevar)
  2. Brennan Boesch, RF (4-for-11 off Hochevar)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B (15-for-29, 2 HR off Hochevar)
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B
  5. Andy Dirks, DH
  6. Alex Avila, C
  7. Jhonny Peralta, SS (3 HR, 5-for-23 off Hochevar)
  8. Don Kelly, LF
  9. Ramon Santiago, 2B

P: Duane Below

 

A few numbers on Scherzer’s outing

On April 22, 2010, Justin Verlander used 125 pitches to get through five innings against the Angels, a game in which manager Jim Leyland was determined to get Verlander through the fifth. It ended up earning Verlander his first win of the year, but Verlander said afterwards that it didn’t feel like a victory for him at all.

It ended up being a big turning point for him in the season, though he still needed 121 pitches to last 5 2/3 innings against the Twins five days later. Verlander got on a roll from there, and when he made some changes the next offseason to try to get into midseason form sooner, he set himself up for that historic 2011 season.

What happens from here with Max Scherzer is anyone’s guess, but Sunday’s loss had the feeling like one of those outings that could send Scherzer’s season in one direction or the other.

Verlander didn’t walk a ton of batters in his outing two years ago, just four in fact. He suffered from pitches fouled back and from rearing back and firing fastballs all out early in the game. Scherzer, while not wild with his pitches, was still off.

“I was struggling all day with command of the fastball,” he said. “I was just flying open with my front side, and the ball felt like a cue ball today. I just wasn’t able to consistently pound the zone. That’s something I usually pretty good about, working ahead. So today, that was frustrating.”

In other words, he was struggling to feel the seams on the ball. He tried to make up for it, he said, with his offspeed pitches.

“Even though I was caught in some situations that I didn’t want to be in, I didn’t want to give in,” Scherzer said. “And I thought I had a good enough changeup and I had a good enough slider to get outs. Even though I struggled a little bit, I was still able to collect some outs when I needed to.”

The numbers on pitch counts seem to go back reliably about 20 years. No Tigers pitcher in that time threw as many pitches as Scherzer’s 119 Sunday without getting through the fifth. The closest comparisons:

  • C.J. Nitkowski threw 117 pitches over 4 1/3 innings (six walks) against the Angels on July 23, 1996. Ten days earlier, he threw 114 pitches over 4 2/3 innings (seven walks) against the Red Sox. He made a few more starts with mixed results, then went to the bullpen for September before the Tigers traded him to Houston that offseason.
  • Edwin Jackson threw 115 pitches over exactly four innings on July 31, 2009 in Cleveland. He didn’t even come out for the fifth inning, even though he only walked one batter that game. It got overlooked because Detroit had just acquired Jarrod Washburn that morning. It also got lost because that game went 13 innings before Cleveland won it.

Doing it this early in the season, suffice to say, is rare. When Verlander had his outing around the same time as this, it became a big moment for him. We’ll see what it means for Scherzer, because statistically, it’s pretty signficant.

Other notable numbers:

  • Other than a pair of Dontrelle Willis outings, the only other Tiger in the last 10 years to walk seven batters without getting out of the fifth inning was Jeremy Bonderman, who walked seven Rangers over 4 2/3 innings on April 24, 2008. He also struck out seven that day while allowing two runs over 4 2/3 innings. He needed one more out to be eligible for the win.
  • It’s Scherzer’s highest April pitch count of his career, topping his previous high of 113 last year. He has topped 120 pitches six times, but none earlier than July 22.
  • It’s the first time since 1998, and just the sixth time since 1990, that a Tigers pitcher threw 119 pitches or more with just 62 strikes or less. Bryce Florie threw 119 pitches and 61 strikes on Aug. 21, 1998 against the Oakland, but he did it in seven innings of three-run ball with five walks and eight strikeouts. In fact, the only guy who didn’t get through the seventh was Jeff Robinson on June 29, 1990, and he fell an out short.
  • No Major League pitcher has thrown that many pitches and that few strikes in a game since then-Phillie Brett Myers on April 24, 2009. He had 119 pitches, 62 strikes that day, same as Scherzer, but had a quality start: 6 innings, 3 runs, 6 walks, 5 strikeouts against Florida.

Nobody knows where Scherzer’s season goes from here, though many Tigers fans hope it goes the way of 2010. If the Tigers are going to be successful this year, they need Scherzer, bottom line. Talk as fans might about sending Scherzer to Toledo to work out his mechanics, there is nobody to replace him. Replacing him with Doug Fister and keeping Duane Below up once Fister returns leaves the bullpen short an arm.

The Tigers could trade for an arm, and the expectation among scouts the last few days is that Detroit will check the market for a starter this summer, even if Drew Smyly keeps going like this. But nobody’s coming through that door anytime soon. They need to get Scherzer going.

Sources: Inge agrees to sign with A’s

The Tigers won’t have to wait long to see their former teammate Brandon Inge. Moments after he cleared waivers Sunday afternoon, he agreed to terms on a one-year contract with the Oakland A’s, sources told MLB.com.

FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal first reported the agreement.

The A’s have yet to announce the deal, but that should be taken care soon. That means Inge could/should be in uniform for the A’s when they welcome the Tigers for a four-game series on Detroit’s next road trip in a week and a half.

The Tigers released Inge after Thursday’s loss to the Mariners, but he had to go through waivers for 48 hours before he was free to sign with any team. Nobody was going to claim him, because it would’ve meant picking up the remainder of the $5.5 million salary he has coming this year.

By signing him as a free agent now, the A’s are only responsible for the prorated portion of the minimum Major League salary. With a $500,000 salary, that works out to about $415,000. The Tigers owe him the rest of his contract, minus that portion.

For those wondering about when Inge might come back to Detroit, the A’s don’t visit Comerica Park until Sept. 18-20.

Sunday: Tigers at Yankees

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, cf
  2. Brennan Boesch, rf
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3b
  4. Prince Fielder, 1b
  5. Brad Eldred, dh
  6. Ryan Raburn, lf
  7. Ramon Santiago, ss
  8. Gerald Laird, c
  9. Danny Worth, 2b

P: Max Scherzer

YANKEES

  1. Derek Jeter, ss
  2. Curtis Granderson, cf
  3. Alex Rodriguez, 3b
  4. Robinson Cano, 2b
  5. Mark Teixeira, 1b
  6. Nick Swisher, rf
  7. Raul Ibanez, lf
  8. Eric Chavez, dh
  9. Chris Stewart, C

P: CC Sabathia

Fister to go on rehab assignment (updated)

What looked like a lengthy absence for Tigers starter Doug Fister might be ending shortly. In fact, if his rehab start for Triple-A Toledo goes well next Wednesday, it might not be long at all.

“It looks like if everything goes right, he should be back real soon,” manager Jim Leyland said Saturday evening.

Fister threw a second bullpen session Saturday afternoon, this one longer than the 50-pitch session he threw on Thursday, and said he felt good. The team announced Sunday that he’ll go out on a rehab assignment with the Mud Hens, who are at home against Pawtucket.

The Tigers aren’t saying what happens after that, whether his rehab would be only one start. Still, the difference in tone was noticeable. What had been cautious words from Leyland and Fister about a timetable now sounds like a path with the end in sight.

“I’m trying to not overdo it, but I feel really good,” Fister said. “I feel very strong. I’m trying to take it slow, but at the same time, it feels very good and I’m just trying to work my way into it.”

Dombrowski talks about Delmon Young situation

A few hours after the Tigers placed Delmon Young on MLB’s restricted list, Dave Dombrowski talked to reporters and tried to give an update on the situation.

Bottom line: Young will be on the restricted list until an independent doctor evaluates him Monday and gives a report. What happens from there depends entirely on the report.

“If he is cleared to play by the doctors, at that point, he will play,” Dombrowski said. “Now, I don’t know if I will find out on Monday, but assuming that I find out Monday, if he is cleared to play, he will play, because that’s the arrangement that is involved in this type of scenario. …

“He is accused of a misdemeanor at this point. If he is cleared by the doctors, he would be in a position to play at that time.”

More quotes from Dombrowski today:

  • “There are allegations that are involved. They don’t really know what took place. I don’t think anybody does with 100 percent certainty, but that’s all part of the evaluation process, and that’s why he’s going through this.”
  • “He is extremely remorseful, extremely apologetic. Of course, you read his statement. I saw him yesterday morning, and he was apologetic at that point.”
  • On why anger management will be evaluated: “I don’t know what their decision was in that regard. I don’t know if it had to do antyhing with that [history] or just the allegations as far as his comments are concerned. To me, he’s doing it, so the appropriate steps are being taken.
  • On whether club could issue discipline: “Well, I guess it depends upon every different circumstance. I don’t think the club is prohibited from doing that, but I think we’re still in the step-by-step process.”
  • On Dombrowski’s personal feelings on the accusations: “My personal feelings are … all I know, and I was there, that the person was not in a very good state as far as his sobriety. That is not a good situation. That’s all I know. I do know that he was in a skirmish. I do know that. Beyond that, I don’t know anything else. Those situations themselves are concerning, and not what you would like to see. If the allegations are true, that is also concerning and not something you would want to see happen.”
  • More Dombrowski: “I was there that night. I do know that some things that have been written are not accurate. I don’t know that. I am not doing to get into them, but I do know wholeheartedly that, because I read some articles in the papers this morning that are not accurate.”
  • On when he received a call: “I don’t know. It was between 3:30 and 4 o’clock. He was up in his room at that point. I was one of numerous people in that room. He had already been charged.”
  • On knowing right away it wasn’t good: “I don’t normally get too many good calls at 3:30, 4 o’clock in the morning.”

Saturday: Tigers at Yankees

A day after Jim Leyland said he was going to run Ryan Raburn out there at second base, Ramon Santiago is starting at second. That said, Raburn’s numbers off Freddy Garcia are not good (1-for-9). Santiago is 0-for-5 off Garcia.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Brennan Boesch, RF (6-for-16, 1 HR off Garcia)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B (9-for-23, 3 HR off Garcia)
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B
  5. Andy Dirks, LF
  6. Brad Eldred, DH
  7. Alex Avila, C
  8. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  9. Ramon Santiago, 2B

P: Drew Smyly

Tigers place Young on restricted list

The Tigers have taken troubled outfielder off the active roster for the time being. Less more than 24 hours after Young’s arrest for aggravated harassment, the Tigers placed Young on Major League Baseball’s restricted list, pending an evaluation at the beginning of next week.

The Tigers cited a provision in Major League Baseball’s basic agreement in making the move. Young’s arrest was an alcohol-related offense, and basic agreement rules call for players involved in such matters to be referred to MLB’s Employee Assistance Program. The Tigers referred to that provision in their statement on Young’s arrest Friday, setting up their legal standing for the move.

Players on the restricted list do not count on either the 25- or 40-man rosters, and in some cases are not paid.

Young was arrested in the early hours of Friday morning after an incident in front of the team hotel in midtown Manhattan. After a brief stay in a nearby hospital, Young spent most of Friday being processed and arraigned. He was released on bail early Friday evening but did not join the team for Friday’s series opener against the Yankees in the Bronx.

The team played a man short Friday night, though they didn’t run out. They’ll be back to full strength Saturday with the arrival of infielder Danny Worth, who was recalled from Triple-A Toledo to take Young’s spot on the 25-man roster.

Worth batted .309 (17-for-55) with seven doubles, three homers and six RBIs since being sent down a couple weeks ago. He made the Opening Day roster as a utility infielder until being optioned out April 14, when Brandon Inge was activated from the disabled list.

Worth’s arrival restores the Tigers to two extra infielders, which was their status before they released Brandon Inge on Thursday and called up slugging first baseman/designated hitter Brad Eldred. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll stay at two as long as Ryan Raburn is starting every day at second base.

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