Morning notes: Don’t dismiss Pena’s potential role

Had a good talk this morning with backup catcher Brayan Pena, who discussed his defection from Cuba as a teenager while he was playing in a tournament in Venezuela, and later becoming an American citizen and settling in nearby Kissimmee. It’s an amazing journey he has been through, and joining a team with championship aspirations is the next chapter.

Jim Leyland said he talked with Pena yesterday. He said he has admired Pena’s game from afar the last several years, but hadn’t really talked much with him.

“He’s got a good feel for things,” Leyland said.

With a relatively young, but veteran switch-hitting catcher backing up Avila, it’s a good situation for the Tigers to have, and it’s one that kind of fell to them. They went into the offseason planning on Bryan Holaday backing up Avila, but wanting an insurance option (like what Omir Santos was) in case of injury. As it turns out, finding a veteran catcher willing to sign a minor-league deal with a contending team was tougher than finding a veteran catcher willing to sign a reasonable Major League deal to be a backup. And the Tigers liked Pena, so they changed course.

“We feel pretty good about our situation,” Leyland said, noting they still like Holaday a lot.

A scout who tracked the Royals quite a bit last year said this winter that Pena is a great pickup if he’s playing a couple days week and not every day. If he’s getting that kind of work and Alex Avila is catching 4-5 times a week, I think that’s a mix they’d take.

Other notes from this morning:

  • Ramon Santiago has reported to camp after playing winter ball well into January for Escogido in the Dominican League. It’s something the Tigers wanted him to do after he skipped winter ball last offseason and then struggled for much of the 2012 season. Between a good winter campaign and a tweak to his offseason workouts, he says he’s lighter than he was a year ago and feels more mobile. He plans to do moreagility work this spring with strength and conditioning coach Javair Gillett. Though nobody has said Santiago is guaranteed a roster spot out of camp, and there were rumors the Tigers were gauging trade interest for Santiago at the Winter Meetings in December, I think it would take an awful spring for Santiago to be cut. Leyland knows what he has with him, and he’d love to get the Santiago he had in 2011.
  • Leyland hasn’t eliminated Casey Crosby from consideration for a bullpen spot, but he plans on stretching out Crosby as a starter this spring and going from there. “We think he’s a top prospect,” Leyland said. “And who knows?”
  • While Leyland has his annual warning against reading too much from bullpen sessions, he did say he liked the sliders that Rick Porcello was throwing in his session yesterday. It’s a pitch he has been working on with pitching coach Jeff Jones, and might be the biggest benefit from the general mechanical work they’ve put in.
  • Leyland on Bruce Rondon: “He seems to have a good personality. He doesn’t seem to be star struck.”

More pitchers fielding practice this morning. Leyland is hitting ground balls to pitchers, which means at some point Justin Verlander is going to dare Leyland to try to hit a ground ball by him.



So you’re telling me Kobernus and Worth aren’t making the team…. (and don’t tell me kobernus is going to make the backup OF position)

Because I think optimally you test out Kobernus and if you like him you send Ramon packing. If he gets hurt (like Kobernus does typically) then Worth is called up. The only question is whether Kobernus can play SS (he’s played only a handful of SS, previously).

(i.e. ramon for kobernus)

Plans for the expansion of Joker Marchant/Tigertown sound awesome. Elimination of Mount whatever it is (those bleachers) and a concourse that circles the entire field. Just like at Brighthouse in Clearwater, where you can walk for an entire game and never miss a pitch.

If you wanted to do such a thing, that is.

“I’m still catching,” Martinez said.
I would use him in 1B vs LHP against NL teams on the road.
By the numbers, Smyly is the 5th starter. Being LH must guarantee him the post
Lobstein and Kobernus are Rule 5 picks .If they wont be in the roster why bother to buy one and trade Justin Henry for the other? I see Boesch or Santiago gone
I hope if Worth does not make the team that he is traded. His glove is very god and deserves a better opportunity

Padres could use a starter. They have at least 5 RHB outfielders. Guzman might be a nice piece as a role player.

I have read about Chris Dinorfia being a good fit for the Tigers

Everyone’s lighter than they were a year ago. How about Prince? 🙂

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