January 26th, 2013
The return of TigerFest meant the return of Dave Dombrowski’s question-and-answer session with Tigers fans. This year, there weren’t any revelations or anything, but there were some interesting tidbits and a little insight on some of the team’s thinking heading into Spring Training. Here’s the short version:
- As he did in West Michigan, Dombrowski called Bruce Rondon “the leading candidate” for the closer job, indicating that there’s a competition to some extent for the job. He did not get into the other options, though he stated they have a wealth of experienced relievers who can do the job. As manager Jim Leyland said later, they have a lot of guys who can close, but Rondon’s probably the one guy who could close full-time.
- Dombrowski repeated another tidbit he noted earlier in the week, that the Venezuelan baseball federation is interested in having Rondon join the national team for the World Baseball Classic. That seems to be a new development Dombrowski said later Saturday that no official invite had been extended for Rondon or for Omar Infante, who supposedly was being added to the Team Venezuela roster a week ago.
- A fan asked Dombrowski whether they were considering free-agent closer Brian Wilson, now the top closer option on the market after Rafael Soriano signed. Dombrowski didn’t want to get into details, but said that one problem is that Wilson wants to be assured he’s the closer wherever he signs. “We’re really not in that position to be able to make him that promise right now,” Dombrowski said. If they can’t offer him that right now, it’s hard to imagine that changing unless Rondon outright struggles in Spring Training.
- Again, Dombrowski didn’t want to get into specifics when asked about a possible contract extension for Justin Verlander. “Anytime we have contract negotiations, we do those behind the scenes,” Dombrowski said. “We’ll see what happens, but we hope he’s here for a long time.”
- Like others around baseball have said, Dombrowski doesn’t expect any changes to replay in Major League Baseball for the upcoming season. Eventually, he expects change to happen towards more use of replay. “We’re moving in that direction,” Dombrowski said. “Where that takes us, I’m not sure.”
- For the first time I can remember, Dombrowski went into some detail on the organization’s view on players participating in the World Baseball Classic. “The growth of the game is intentional in many ways. I have no problem if a player decides that they want to leave if they’re in proper condition. Personally, you’d rather have them stay with your club, but I never try to talk anybody out of it, because I understand the importance. But from a club perspective, you always like to have your players with you if you can. But we’ve done pretty well in the years we’ve had it in the past.”