March 11th, 2013

Monday: “Sloppy baseball stinks.”


Jordany Valdespin ... Ouch. (AP)

Jordany Valdespin … Ouch. (AP)

I thought about writing about the differing views of Phil Coke and Joaquin Benoit on a bullpen by committee (count on that coming soon). Then I thought about detailing what we learned about Bruce Rondon from his latest outing, but I already wrote about that today on the site. So since this is my blog, I figured I’d run down a list of why Monday’s game between the Tigers and Mets was one of the strangest Spring Training games I’ve seen in a long time:

  • Verlander’s outing (more on the details later). You can read the basic pitching line on the box score here, but it doesn’t show all the 3-0 counts, at least four of them by my count. It doesn’t show that he gave up a run on a balk with nobody on base other than the guy on third, then made that ruling irrelevant by giving up a home run a couple pitches later. It also doesn’t show Verlander on his way into the dugout looking to pitching coach Jeff Jones for advice. He was out of rhythm, and it showed all over.
  • Danny Worth breaking up a double play attempt by literally lunging under the tag attempt, then beating the throw to second base from the first baseman after the Mets opted for the easy out. That’s the first time I remember seeing that trick work in that particular fashion.
  • Communication issues all around the outfield once the substitutes entered — first between Quintin Berry and Brennan Boesch in right field on a ball that dropped, then between Berry and Jeff Kobernus in left-center on a ball that was caught in the middle of a collision. Most of the damage happened in the seventh inning behind Phil Coke, who couldn’t have been happy. For a manager who spends time at the start of each Spring Training emphasizing to players the importance of calling for a ball, it had to be frustrating to watch.
  • Jhonny Peralta being scratched from the starting lineup at the last minute because of a food allergy — not a poorly prepared food, but a food Peralta knew he was allergic to. Somehow, Peralta ended up eating clam chowder and not realizing it was clam chowder until it was too late.
  • But nothing tops, on the bizarre scale, the hit-by-pitch Jordany Valdespin suffered when he squared around to bunt in the fifth inning. It was a 94 mph fastball to the groin, and it was tough to watch. The fact that he left the field on his own power and was able to smile about it later made it easier to find some humor about it. “He took a hack at the first pitch. He already hit one bomb,” Verlander said. “And then the next one, he just totally squared at me, and I’m like, ‘Oh God, this isn’t going to be good.’ Right out of the hand, it’s like, ‘Oh, [crap], that is right at his [groin].'”

This was one of those games that was a throwback to Alan Trammell’s oft-used saying from his old managerial days: “Sloppy baseball stinks.”

Monday: Tigers vs. Mets

Another start in left field for Jeff Kobernus against a lefty, this time against Jonathon Niese. On the flip side, a lefty starter means a day off for Victor Martinez. Torii Hunter will start at DH, with Avisail Garcia in right field.

The Mets sent a couple more of their regulars today than they did on Friday, including Ike Davis and Lucas Duda.

No TV for this game. You can listen to the broadcast on AM 1270 in Detroit and Gameday Audio online.


  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Torii Hunter, DH
  3. Avisail Garcia, RF
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B
  5. Jhonny Peralta, SS Matt Tuiasosopo, 3B (Peralta scratched with food allergy)
  6. Jeff Kobernus, LF
  7. Ramon Santiago, 2B
  8. Danny Worth, 3B SS
  9. Bryan Holaday, C

P: Justin Verlander, Kyle Lobstein, Bruce Rondon, Phil Coke, Jose Ortega


  1. Jordany Valdespin, 2B
  2. Ruben Tejada, SS
  3. Ike Davis, 1B
  4. Lucas Duda, LF
  5. Mike Baxter, RF
  6. John Buck, C
  7. Travis D’Arnaud, DH
  8. Matt dan Dekker, CF
  9. Brandon Hicks, 3B

P: Jonathon Niese, Aaron Laffey, Greg Buke, Scott Rice, Pedro Feliciano

Tigers option Cabrera, send back Mercedes

The latest round of cuts from Tigers camp were announced this morning, all involving prospects sent back to minor league camp to get more playing time and prepare for their seasons.

Shortstop Dixon Machado and catcher Ramon Cabrera were optioned to Double-A Erie. It’s a promotion for the 21-year-old Machado, who batted .195 at Class A Lakeland with slick defense, and an arrival for Cabrera, who was the return player in the trade that sent Andy Oliver to Pittsburgh. Cabrera is expected to share catching duties with James McCann with the SeaWolves.

Joining them at Erie, most likely, will be Daniel Fields, who was assigned to minor-league camp Monday. He was a non-roster invite to camp since he isn’t on the 40-man roster. Fields spent the second half of last season at Erie and held his own, batting .264 in 29 games with two home runs, 13 walks and 21 strikeouts.

Right-handed reliever Melvin Mercedes, meanwhile, was optioned to Class A Lakeland, where some are hoping he can put together control on his upper 90s fastball and experience a breakthrough like Bruce Rondon last year (though maybe not to that same degree).

Joining Mercedes in Lakeland will be shortstop Eugenio Suarez, who was assigned to minor-league camp. He heads across the street having made an impression with the big-league camp, including a highlight stop and throw last Thursday against the Braves.