September 16th, 2013
Jim Leyland announced this afternoon that Jhonny Peralta will head to Instructional League on Wednesday for workouts and games. He seemingly announced a little more than that, too.
“I don’t know this to be a fact, but I assume that he’ll probably join us in Miami,” Leyland said, referring to the last series of the regular season.
That seemingly takes away the question about whether he’ll be activated when his 50-game suspension ends next Thursday. Whether he’ll be placed on the postseason roster remains a mystery, and Leyland didn’t do anything to clear that up.
“I have no idea,” Leyland said. “That’s why I don’t want to get carried away with this. I can’t give you any more than what I’ve given you. He’s working out, he’s going to Instructional League, he’s going to play, he’s going to rejoin the team I believe in Miami, and that’s all I can tell you right now.”
Leyland said Peralta will work out exclusively in the outfield in instructional ball, which clears up another question.
“I think this is just a thought process on [Dave Dombrowski’s] part, which I think is a good thought process,” Leyland said. “I’m sure it’ll be a big deal for Jhonny to get back out there. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”
In other words, the momentum from the Tigers on this seems to be coming from up top.
Instructional league workouts begin Thursday. Instructional league games don’t begin until next Monday, which would give Peralta a few games to get ready before his suspension. Depending on the Tigers’ situation going into that final series, he’ll have a few games down there both to see Major League pitching and to try playing the outfield in a big-league ballpark.
Leyland isn’t sure whether that will be enough playing time to get him back to form.
“I think that’s quite a while. I think 50 games is a long time to be out, myself,” he said. “Now, the early signs are more than positive, but we’re talking about coaches’ BP. He’s swinging the bat really well in coaches’ BP. But that is a lot of games to miss and expect to come back sharp after playing just a few games, I would think. I don’t know that.
“What happens with guys like that a lot of times is they come back really good right off the bat, and then it kind of catches up with them if they haven’t played for a while. So I have no idea. But he’s sure swinging the bat good right now. The other day in Chicago, it looked like he hadn’t missed a beat.”
There’s also a difference between the level of pitching. Instructional league usually features younger pitchers, often Class A level. Veteran pitchers usually get their offseason work in winter ball.
“There’s a world of difference between instructional league pitching and Triple-A pitching,” Leyland said.
Hard to believe when you look at the stats, but through all the damage, Joe Saunders has still managed to hold left-handed hitters to a .220 average and .357 slugging percentage this year, while racking up more strikeouts (35) than hits allowed. That means right-handed batters have hit him hard, batting .341 with a .964 OPS.
With that in mind, Matt Tuiasosopo gets his first start (and first meaningful at-bats) since Sept. 3. He hasn’t appeared in a game of any sort since getting an at-bat in the 16-2 rout of the Royals in Kansas City Sept. 6. Nick Castellanos had picked up the starts in left field since then.
The Mariners have seven left-handed batters or switch-hitters in the lineup against Rick Porcello, whose numbers against those hitters had been worsening since the All-Star break until his complete-game win against the White Sox last week.
TIGERS (career numbers off Saunders)
- Austin Jackson, CF (0-for-4, walk, 2 K’s)
- Torii Hunter, RF (3-for-6, K)
- Miguel Cabrera, 3B (5-for-15, 4 walks, 4 K’s)
- Prince Fielder, 1B (0-for-6, 2 walks, 2 K’s)
- Victor Martinez, DH (4-for-15, 2 K’s)
- Omar Infante, 2B (6-for-14)
- Matt Tuiasosopo, LF (2-for-6, 2 K’s)
- Alex Avila, C
- Jose Iglesias, SS (2-for-5, K)
P: Rick Porcello
MARINERS (career numbers off Porcello)
- Dustin Ackley, CF (1-for-3)
- Abraham Almonte, RF
- Kyle Seager, 3B
- Kendrys Morales, DH (3-for-13, walk, 3 K’s)
- Raul Ibanez, LF (0-for-6)
- Justin Smoak, 1B (2-for-8, HR, walk, K)
- Mike Zunino, C
- Nick Franklin, 2B
- Carlos Triunfel, SS
P: Joe Saunders