Benoit: I never told Tigers I didn’t want to close

The Tigers continue to scout teams for potential bullpen help, including potential closer options, but they continue to be impressed with the way Joaquin Benoit has handled the job.

Benoit has opened some eyes with the way he has taken over the role, though he says he has never been told he’s the set closer. On the flip side, however, he sought to clarify a report that he told the Tigers in Spring Training that he didn’t want to close.

That tidbit was tucked in a report from CBSSports.com’s Danny Knobler that the Tigers have scouts this weekend watching the Marlins, Brewers, Padres, Mariners and Astros.

Benoit said Saturday the Tigers never asked him if he wanted to close. Any discussion, he said, centered on what his focus was in the spring. With the Tigers seemingly set on giving rookie Bruce Rondon the first chance to take the job, Benoit said he wasn’t thinking about winning the job.

“That was his show,” Benoit said of Rondon said. “They got Rondon. They wanted him to be the closer. After that, they never said anything about me or anybody else. …

“That’s the goal of everybody, to be in the position where everybody’s going to recognize you. If you ask anybody in the bullpen if they want to be the closer for the team, most of the answers are going to be yes, that they want to be [closing].”

That includes Benoit.

“Yes,” he said. “My position is that if you have a set role, I’m not going to jump in there and say, ‘Because I can do that, I want to do it.’ I mean, I know I can, but it’s not that I’m going to jump in there and say, ‘Take him out and I’m going to jump in.'”

In other words, Benoit wasn’t going to upset the apple cart and demand to close, and he still isn’t.

The only public remarks Benoit made about the closer’s job in Spring Training was that he felt it was better for the team to have a set closer rather than a bullpen by committee. Whoever the set closer was going to be, he said, was the team’s decision.

“I don’t care who’s going to be closing,” Benoit said. “As long as we have somebody that says this guy’s going to close the games, it’s going to be better for us because of the balance in the bullpen. It’s not going to make anybody anxious thinking, ‘OK, who’s going to close today?’ It makes it easier on everybody. Everybody can prepare for whatever situation you’re going to get into.”

He would like to have the closer’s role, and he thinks he can do it. Other than some minor differences, he doesn’t see much difference from his old role.

“What’s different? It’s probably good, it’s probably bad,” Benoit said. “On the road, I don’t know how many times I’m going to pitch. I don’t know how many times I’m going to warm up. Because in extra innings, I may have to be up in every inning. But [the pitching] is not different. If you can pitch in the eighth, I think you can pitch the ninth.”

One change that has taken place is that Benoit no longer loosens up in the fifth or sixth inning, a ritual he had for the first half of the season. He wants to save his throws and his arm to be ready to pitch four days or more in a row if need be.

If Benoit can show that durability, it would answer a major question about whether he can handle the job full-time down the stretch. Leyland has been hesitant to use Benoit three days in a row, given his injury history that includes career-threatening shoulder surgery in 2009.

38 Comments

Man, that’s what I’ve been saying all along. That entire “he doesn’t like to close” thing was a myth.

This entire outfit needs better communications.

Did Leyland or another team official actually say that Benoit didn’t want to close? Or did some reporter just speculate it? Everything isn’t always Leyland’s fault–maybe a reporter just wrote what he or she thought was true without checking it out?

Olney:”There is some hope in the Tigers’ organization that when the dust settles, they will be the team that lands Francisco Rodriguez. We’ll see.”
A Boras client. No doubts about who gets him.

Let’s hope Ajax can make some adjustments.

We still haven’t heard any definitive word re Omar. What happens if he’s still in pain and can’t play for a few more weeks?

They need a SS

Justin has nobody to blame but himself for that first inning. Don’t walk guys and don’t throw balls away at first.

He started making faces early on. He’s toast when he lets his emotions get to him.

Just when you think Justin might have turned a corner…….well he doesn’t. Two quick easy outs and they quickly score two…a two out double with two strikes on a guy. Fact of the matter is hitters don’t appear to be having any trouble hitting a JV fastball this year. At least that’s the way it appears to me.

Bad defense was a factor too. Twice, first Peralta and then Avila and Hunter

Other than the pass ball I just don’t agree there was bad defense …..yes they’ve been ripping the ball on him…He is just not that good this year….he’s a giant disappointment.

Especially the third inning where he gave up two……two quick outs a solid single up the middle, there was a pass ball, he walked Butler and gave up a double down the line. I see the bad pitching not the bad defense. The pass ball had no real effect on the outcome of that inning. The bottom of the 4th was all him. The first inning was all him.

Good grief, what is happening? I was hoping the guys would come back from the break playing hard to to show the other teams who deserves to win the division. Nice walk Verlander. NOT.

Bases loaded for Avila. Light a candle and it worked!!

And now he gives up a homer run to what a .213 hitter! Way to go JV. Yep he’s back.

3 pitches, 2 outs.

Time to call the bullpen

Geez. Another error and a base hit.

Get ‘em out, Al.

Prince pull the ball………

Well…..tigers that 8th was probably your shot and ya screw it up…..nothing. Figures. Boy I’m frustrated.

Pull the ball Prince you can barely hit one out to right let alone left.

Well, it’s up to 2E to keep it going.

Oh, hell. This is depressing.

KC > Tigers…….Verlander is aweful….Mr hot shot ain’t so hot.

You have always hated JV no matter how he pitches. You are the worst Tigers fan I’ve. Ever had the misfortune of reading.

There was bad pitching AND bad defense AND a ton of other things I didn’t like seeing. Not to mention having Jackson bunt in the 8th on a 3-1 count. This stuff we’re seeing here…….isn’t worth watching.

Hosmer said ” it’s the character of our offense to not give up”. Seems to be the character of our offense to give up. No mojo

You are so negative.

I’m frustrated …as a lot of people are on here….I just type and express my frustration toooooo much. Welcome to the board as I don’t remember you commenting here before.

Justin Verlander ” no excuses but there was a little rust”. Um it’s that an excuse Justin? Sorry he frustrates me and always has. I was frustrated with the lack of clutch hitting late, but he was also got run support.

Your negativity is depressing. I would still rather have JV on our team. You act like you know what he is thinking and you don’t.

Okay yippie they only lost by one the last two nights is that more to your liking?

I agree with GK here even though he can sometimes be negative I agree JV has been a huge disappointment and he usually has an excuse. When you make that kind of money more is and should be expected. Especially more than we are getting this year.

Still a win-able game in the 8th, one run down. Runners on first and second, none out, top of the order up. Jackson, Hunter and Cabrera with a shot to drive in runs…….and they bunt. On a 3-1 count they bunt. Mind blown.
Unless it’s Santiago, you never bunt with this team. Never. You don’t start runners. You just let them walk up there and hack away. That’s the kind of team that’s been built here.
I didn’t stay for the postgame. Did anyone ask about this strategy? I mean, I thought I dreamed that.

I don’t remember them talking about it Rich..but I could be wrong. Mostly they talked about Justin’s outing and a bit about Alex’s excellent day at the plate.

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