Leyland: “No clue” who will fill in for Fister
The question of who will fill in for Doug Fister in the Tigers rotation was just as murky Sunday morning as the question of how long Fister will be out with his left side strain.
“I have no clue who’s gonna start, absolutely none,” Leyland said Sunday morning. “Villarreal has joined the team and we will have a starter at the appropriate time. Who it is, I have no clue. None.”
While Duane Below would appear to be the logical candidate, the Tigers are leaving it open. Below hasn’t been told he’s starting, and the Tigers will spend the next two days watching starters at Triple-A Toledo. Somebody from the club watched Andy Oliver pitch for the Mud Hens Sunday night (he gave up five runs, two earned, on three hits with five walks over 3 2/3 innings) and Leyland said he might spend the off-day Monday in Toledo to watch Casey Crosby start.
By all indications, the trade option remains open as well. John Lannan has reportedly requested a trade out of the Nationals organization after Washington optioned him to Triple-A, but there’s no sign yet out of Washington reports that the Nats will give him away simply to finalize the divorce.
The longer Fister is out, the more viable the trade option would appear to be. Even if he’s going to be out a few weeks, it might not make sense to give up a prospect or take on more salary just to fill that time.
What about Roy Oswalt, you ask? If he needs 60 days to get ready for game action until June, as Ken Rosenthal reported, then it kind of defeats the purpose for the Tigers. It would take a long-term injury to Fister for that to make sense, and they would still have to fill his spot in the meantime.
One thing to keep in mind for this week: With Monday’s off-day, the Tigers have the option of moving up Max Scherzer to start in Fister’s place Friday instead of Saturday. Given that Friday is the White Sox home opener, and we know how White Sox crowds can be, having Scherzer pitch that day might make some sense. The downside is that if they do that, they won’t have Scherzer for the four-game series against Texas at Comerica Park April 19-22.
As for a timetable on Fister, head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said, “Not right now. We’ve just got to get him pain free. Once we get him pain free, then we can move forward.”
Fister echoed that after Sunday’s game, saying the main focus is to get the tightness and soreness out of his side.
“There’s no timetable,” he said. “It’s a day-to-day thing.”