Dave Dombrowski’s conversation with reporters on Rusney Castillo late Friday afternoon echoed his comments to MLB Network Radio earlier in the day. They also elaborated a bit.
First, they did not expect Castillo to contribute to their playoff chase.
“He hadn’t played for over a year, the signing process here, getting him ready to play, we never felt that he would be in a position to play this year,” Dombrowski said. “We actually offered him a 2015 contract to start off.”
Second, they didn’t get to the point where they had any reason to believe they were in it at the end.
“We made him a substantial offer, in our opinion, about a week ago,” Dombrowski said. “They wanted our best offer right off the bat. We made them a best offer at that point. It was, without getting into specifics, in somewhat of a rumored area of various offers that were out there.
“They called us back this past Monday and told us that we were out, that we were not even in the neighborhood of clubs that were going to sign him, that they had substantial offers better than ours. We felt at that time that we were out, but we did not say anything because we’ve never dealt with his agents before and we didn’t know if they’d ever come back to us and say that we’ve changed our minds. They never did, so we never had any conversations since Monday. So all of the rumors that we were one of the finalists, we were not one of the finalists to my knowledge.”
Castillo is represented by agents at Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports. The agency also represents Robinson Cano.
“Some guys you know tell you you’re out, and you’re out. Other people tell you you’re out, and you’re really not out,” Dombrowski said. “It just really is a matter of knowing people. But we haven’t had any conversations all week long on this situation.”
That, he said, made for interesting reading as the week unfolded and Tigers officials kept reading they were one of the finalists. They didn’t think they were, but they weren’t sure.
“They told us we were out,” Dombrowski said, “and then I kept reading the rumors that kept saying we were in it. And I kept seeing the dollar amounts and it was like, well, we’re not very far off that dollar amount, so maybe we’re in this thing and we don’t know we’re in this thing. But nobody called us back. I mean, I kept waiting for a phone call that somebody might say, ‘Hey, we changed our mind. Do you want to get back in it?’ But they never did. …
“I called [team owner Mike Ilitch] on Monday to tell him we were out of it. We’ve gone as high as we think we want to go, and we’ve been told we’re out of it. I wouldn’t have made that phone call unless I knew.”
Dombrowski also said they were interested in Castillo before they traded Austin Jackson. Castillo’s showcase workout for teams, for one, took place five days before Jackson went to Seattle in the David Price today, and the Tigers had a handful of representatives there.
“We were involved with this even before we had made a move in center field,” he said. “You never have enough good players. We had discussed this before we made the trade.”
We’re expecting to talk with Dave Dombrowski in person at Target Field later this afternoon about the Tigers’ involvement in the Rusney Castillo bidding. He talked a little earlier, though, with MLB Network Radio, where he told Jim Bowden and Casey Stern that they made a substantial offer, but were out of the bidding a few days ago.
“I don’t think we were ever really close,” Dombrowski said. “We were interested in him and we made we thought was a real solid offer, but we went where we thought we were prepared to go, which was somewhere in the rumored neighborhood of what was out there.”
That offer, Dombrowski said, was as far as they were willing to go. Whether they fell short in years or money isn’t clear, but his suggestion was that it didn’t get them to the final bidding the last couple days.
“We were basically told earlier in the week — I think first thing Monday — that we were no longer a participant,” Dombrowski continued. “We haven’t had any discussions the rest of the week.”
Though a lot of speculation had Castillo as a potential contributor for the Tigers down the stretch and into the playoffs, Dombrowski said that wasn’t their plan. Their interest in Castillo was almost exclusively for next season and beyond.
“Never was he in our plans, despite some rumors, in our plans for the 2014 season,” he said. “With the amount of time he had off, everything we were discussing was towards 2015.”
Dombrowski’s scouting report on Castillo: “We thought that he’d be a real good center field. He’s got above average speed. We thought he’d be an above-average basestealer at the big league level, and probably 15-type home run power. A real good all-around player is how we all looked at him.”
The waiting game for Rusney Castillo appears to be nearing an end. It does not appear to have a happy ending for Tigers fans, whose wait for a long-term solution in center field will apparently continue into the offseason.
Multiple reports, including MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez, have Castillo set to sign with the Red Sox for six years (not including this season) and $72 million.
Crazy things happen; remember, the Tigers made a last-second push to sign Anibal Sanchez after he was set to agree to join the Cubs two years ago. The reports, however, make it sound increasingly close to done. Those financial terms would be the largest deal ever signed by an “amateur” player, from Cuba or any other country.
A six-year deal would take Castillo through his age-32 season, but it’s also the same number of years Jose Abreu signed for last fall, just before his 27th birthday. And while Dave Dombrowski has been extremely quiet on the team’s interest in Castillo over the past week or two, he acknowledged two weeks ago that the success of Abreu, Yasiel Puig and others in recent years have changed the market for Cuban players.
The Tigers were interested in Castillo even before trading Austin Jackson away, and they were very interested after that. Unless something crazy happens, Detroit is going to be in a bind in center. Derek Hill, their top pick in June’s draft, is at least a few years away, and he’s by far the best center-field prospect in the system. Rajai Davis is not a natural center fielder, nor are their options in the upper levels of the system. The free-agent market for center fielders this winter is weak, with Colby Rasmus the lone everyday player in a thin group.
Detroit might have to swing a trade to address the position for 2015. One team with outfield talent to spare, ironically, could be the Red Sox.
The Tigers also remain shut out on the Cuban market, despite recent forays to get involved. They did not get Jose Iglesias when he signed as a teenager five years ago, and their efforts to sign Yoenis Cespedes in 2012 stalled when Victor Martinez’s season-ending knee injury led them to make a run at Prince Fielder instead.
You had to figure David Price’s return to Tampa Bay was going to be memorable. Thursday’s 1-0 loss that he suffered, however, was historic. In fact, it was a first.
According to research on baseball-reference.com, Price is the first pitcher in the Majors to toss a complete-game one-hitter or better with no earned runs and lose since Andy Hawkins pitched a no-hitter in defeat for the Yankees on July 1, 1990. The only other pitcher to do it in the last 40 years is knuckleballer Charlie Hough for Texas on June 16, 1986.
Here’s the complete table of pitchers to throw a complete-game one-hitter or better with no earned runs and lose (since 1914):
|1||Andy Hawkins||1990-07-01||NYY||CHW||L 0-4||CG 8, L||8.0||0||4||0||5||3||0||4|
|2||Charlie Hough||1986-06-16||TEX||CAL||L 1-2||CG 9, L||8.2||1||2||0||4||8||0||2|
|3||Andy Hassler||1974-09-08||CAL||CHW||L 0-1||CG 9, L||9.0||1||1||0||3||6||0||1|
|4||Bob Hendley||1965-09-09||CHC||LAD||L 0-1||CG 8, L||8.0||1||1||0||1||3||0||1|
|5||Dick Ellsworth||1965-05-15||CHC||LAD||L 1-3||CG 8, L||8.0||1||3||0||4||4||1||3|
|6||Bill Monbouquette||1964-09-06||BOS||MIN||L 1-2||CG 8, L||8.0||1||2||0||1||4||1||2|
|7||Ken Johnson||1964-04-23||HOU||CIN||L 0-1||CG 9, L||9.0||0||1||0||2||9||0||1|
|8||Harvey Haddix||1959-05-26||PIT||MLN||L 0-1||CG 13, L||12.2||1||1||0||1||8||0||1|
|9||Ewell Blackwell||1950-09-12||CIN||BRO||L 1-3||CG 8, L||8.0||1||3||0||4||5||0||3|
|10||Bob Steele||1918-06-30 (1)||PIT||STL||L 1-2||8.0||1||2||0||7||2||0||2|
|11||Wilbur Cooper||1918-06-18||PIT||PHI||L 0-1||8.0||1||1||0||1||3||0||1|
|12||Claude Hendrix||1916-08-01 (2)||CHC||PHI||L 2-3||8.0||1||3||0||4||7||0||3|
|13||Al Schulz||1916-07-12||CIN||NYG||L 0-1||6.0||1||1||0||1||3||0||1|
|14||Lefty Tyler||1915-09-09||BSN||BRO||L 0-1||8.0||1||1||0||2||2||0||1|
|15||Rip Hagerman||1915-07-27||CLE||WSH||L 0-1||8.0||1||1||0||3||6||0||1|
|16||Phil Douglas||1914-10-02||CIN||PIT||L 1-2||8.2||1||2||0||3||8||0||2|
|17||Dan Griner||1914-07-30||STL||BSN||L 1-2||8.2||1||2||0||2||1||0||2|
|18||Frank Allen||1914-07-17||BRO||CHC||L 2-3||8.0||1||3||0||4||2||0||3|
One catch you’ll notice about all those games is that all of those pitchers walked somebody. Many, in fact, paid for walks. Price didn’t walk anybody. Take that into account, and Price’s effort is a first, at least over the last 100 years.
Another catch on that list which deserves to be noted: Harvey Haddix had a perfect game going for 12 innings before losing it with an error, an intentional walk and a walkoff hit in the 13th, a game that is remembered well in Pittsburgh baseball circles.
Day out of the field for Miguel Cabrera. He’s the designated hitter, with Victor Martinez getting a chance for redemption at first base after a rough afternoon there on Sunday. Other than that, the only change is Eugenio Suarez’s first start at shortstop since last Saturday.
The Rays, meanwhile, take some left-handed hitters out of the lineup for their meeting with former ace David Price. Brandon Guyer replaces Matt Joyce in the third spot, while Sean Rodriguez starts at first base in place of James Loney.
Reminder: Today’s game is on MLB Network, so if you’re not in area to watch the game on Fox Sports Detroit, you can watch it there.
TIGERS (career numbers off Alex Cobb)
- Ian Kinsler, 2B (4-for-12, 2 doubles, walk, 4 K’s)
- Torii Hunter, RF (6-for-15, double, walk)
- Miguel Cabrera, DH (2-for-8, double, 5 walks)
- Victor Martinez, 1B (2-for-8, K)
- J.D. Martinez, LF (2-for-2, double, walk)
- Nick Castellanos, 3B
- Alex Avila, C (4-for-9, double, walk, 2 K’s)
- Eugenio Suarez, SS (0-for-2, 2 K’s)
- Rajai Davis, CF (0-for-2)
P: David Price
- Desmond Jennings, CF
- Ben Zobrist, RF
- Brandon Guyer, LF
- Evan Longoria, 3B
- Wil Myers, DH
- Sean Rodriguez, 1B
- Yunel Escobar, SS (6-for-23, HR, 2 walks, 7 K’s vs. Price)
- Curt Casali, C
- Logan Forsythe, 2B
P: Alex Cobb
Same lineup for the Tigers, including Andrew Romine at shortstop. He’s batting 8-for-30 since Aug. 5 with two doubles and a solo home run. It equals his hit total from June 17 to Aug. 4.
The Rays get Wil Myers back and plug him in at the DH spot. He hasn’t played since the end of May after suffering a stress fracture in his right wrist.
- Ian Kinsler, 2B
- Torii Hunter, RF
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B
- Victor Martinez, DH
- J.D. Martinez, LF
- Nick Castellanos, 3B
- Alex Avila, C
- Andrew Romine, SS
- Rajai Davis, CF
P: Rick Porcello
RAYS (career numbers off Porcello)
- Desmond Jennings, CF (5-for-14, double, HR, 4 K’s)
- Ben Zobrist, 2B (3-for-11)
- Matt Joyce, LF (2-for-10, HR, 2 walks, 3 K’s)
- Evan Longoria, 3B (2-for-11, 2 walks, 3 K’s)
- James Loney, 1B (4-for-10, double, walk)
- Wil Myers, DH
- Yunel Escobar, SS (1-for-5, walk, K)
- Curt Casali, C
- Kevin Kiermaier, RF (0-for-3)_
P: Jake Odorizzi
Brad Ausmus shuffles up his lineup a bit, moving Torii Hunter back up to second in the order, leading off with Ian Kinsler and moving Rajai Davis back to the ninth spot. Essentially it’s a return to an early-season batting order to try to ignite a few different hitters — including Hunter (who’s just 11-for-53 in August with more strikeouts than he had in June or July) and Kinsler, who batted just 2-for-17 last week as part of a second-half slump that’s well known.
That said, it might not be enough against Chris Archer, who fell two outs shy of a complete-game win at Comerica Park July 5.
While the Tigers miss out on facing Drew Smyly, they’ll get their first look at Curt Casali, the catcher they gave up a year and a half ago to gain full rights to Kyle Lobstein. He’s not hitting much, but he came up with the reputation as a defense-first catcher.
TIGERS (career numbers off Archer)
- Ian Kinsler, 2B (1-for-10, double, 4 K’s)
- Torii Hunter, RF (2-for-4, K)
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B (1-for-5, 2 walks)
- Victor Martinez, DH (1-for-3, K)
- J.D. Martinez, LF (2-for-7, HR)
- Nick Castellanos, 3B (0-for-4, K)
- Alex Avila, C (1-for-2, HR, 2 walks)
- Andrew Romine, SS (2-for-4, walk, K)
- Rajai Davis, CF (0-for-3, K)
P: Max Scherzer
RAYS (career numbers vs. Scherzer)
- Desmond Jennings, CF (2-for-15, double, 6 K’s)
- Ben Zobrist, 2B (2-for-18, HR, 2 walks, 2 K’s)
- Matt Joyce, LF (2-for-17, double, HR, 3 walks, 5 K’s)
- Evan Longoria, 3B (2-for-14, HR, walk, 5 K’s)
- James Loney, 1B (6-for-23, double, HR, walk, 3 K’s)
- Yunel Escobar, SS (11-for-30, 3 doubles, HR, 3 walks, 7 K’s)
- Vince Belnome, DH (0-for-3, 2 K’s)
- Curt Casali, C
- Kevin Kiermaier, RF (0-for-3, K)
P: Chris Archer
One prominent presence on this team that has been a relatively quiet voice belongs to Miguel Cabrera, who has largely kept out of interviews since the All-Star break while he and his team have tried to get going. With the struggles continuing Sunday with a loss to Seattle, Cabrera spoke with a small group of reporters.
His message was largely a push to action. Like several others on the team, he pointed out that the effort is there. It’s not a matter of playing hard, he said. It’s a matter of playing well, and they’re going to have several chances to play well against teams that will make a difference.
“Some days we play good defense and then we don’t hit. Some days we hit good and don’t play good defense,” he said. “If we want to win, we have to stick together, play defense, hit and pitch at the same time. I think we still have a good shot because we still have a lot of games against Kansas City and Cleveland, against our division. When we play against our division, we play good.
“What we can do is go out there and play hard. People see we play hard. We play hard, but I think we have to do better. That’s what I want to say. I say we have to play better.”
Once the Tigers play three games this coming week at Tampa Bay, they’ll have just six games left outside of their division, all at home. They’ll host the Yankees for a quick three-game homestand Aug. 26-28, then welcome the Giants for three games Sept. 5-7. They’ll have six games against the Royals in September, and seven against Cleveland.
“If we want to win the division, if we’re going to be in the playoffs, we have to play better,” he said. “We have to win series. We have to step up and do our jobs. Do our jobs and I think we’re going to be OK.”
Asked if they’re feeling the pressure of a division race, he agreed.
“That’s why you see when we have men in scoring position, we swing at a bad pitch, because we want to make something happen,” he said. “When you say it’s a lot of pressure, yes, it’s a lot of pressure because two or three weeks [ago] we lead the division by six, seven games. Right now we’re behind. But you know what, we’re a good team. We’re going to come from behind and we’re going to get the lead again. But what we have to control is go out there and play better, play hard, make something happen.”
That includes himself. And not surprisingly, he didn’t want to get into his health. His non-answer, however, didn’t deny that he’s dealing with issues.
“You guys know me for seven years. I don’t like to talk about my injuries or whatever I’ve got in my body right now,” he said. “The only thing I can say is I’m going to be out there every day and try to play hard. It doesn’t matter what I have. I try to play my best. Hopefully I can do my job and hopefully I can help my team to win more games and hopefully we can win the division.”
When asked about his swing, he said he feels better about it, and he’ll feel better if he can hit for more home runs. But he also acknowledged that in trying to swing big, he has gotten out of his strike zone, something he’s trying to reverse.
“I try to expand my zone. I try to make something happen. That’s a big mistake you can do as a hitter,” he said. “So right now, I have to feel more comfortable with what I’m doing at home plate and try to shorten my strike zone and try to swing at strikes.”
When asked about the fan reception lately, he admitted it can be a tough when people expect them to run away with the division and they haven’t. But he also stated the obvious: If you win, everything’s good.
“Detroit is a sports city. They come every day to support us and when we don’t do our job, they express it, they boo us,” he said. “I’ve been playing in Detroit for seven years and seen this or that, but we’ve got to control that. We have to get out there and play better and win games. If we win games, they’re going to be OK. …
“They don’t like the way we play right now. I understand that because we don’t play good right now. Like I said before, we have to do our jobs. We have to go out there and play better, play good defense, hit and pitch. We have great starters, great pitchers and offense. We have to get together. … We need everybody here on our team to do everything we can do best to do our job. I think if we control that, the fans are going to be happy.”
Miguel Cabrera is OK after being hit near his elbow by a pitch Saturday night, but he’s getting a day at DH to at least ease some of the workload. Andrew Romine starts at short, with Eugenio Suarez getting a day off. Torii Hunter is also off as J.D. Martinez shifts over to right field, with Ezequiel Carrera and Rajai Davis in center and left for the first time since their mixup in Pittsburgh.
TIGERS (career numbers off Chris Young)
- Ian Kinsler, 2B (0-for-5, K)
- Ezequiel Carrera, CF
- Miguel Cabrera, DH (2-for-12, HR, 4 K’s)
- Victor Martinez, 1B (0-for-6, 2 K’s)
- J.D. Martinez, RF
- Nick Castellanos, 3B
- Alex Avila, C (0-for-2, K)
- Andrew Romine, SS (1-for-2, double)
- Rajai Davis, LF (0-for-0, 3 walks)
P: Robbie Ray
- Austin Jackson, CF
- Dustin Ackley, LF
- Robinson Cano, 2B
- Kendrys Morales, DH
- Kyle Seager, 3B
- Chris Denorfia, RF
- Logan Morrison, 1B
- Chris Taylor, SS
- Jesus Sucre, C
P: Chris Young
Joe Nathan was going to have to get back on the mound and face the boos at Comerica Park eventually. David Price’s home debut as a Tiger, with a three-run lead, seemed like as good a time as any.
“At some point, he’s going to have to pitch again in this ballpark,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “In my mind, really, it’s better to do it sooner than later.”
Said Nathan: “I knew my nerves would be a little extra. When I was apologizing, I’ve never been a part of any type of controversy, and I will not be a part of it again.”
The boos began, albeit just a few, before Nathan had made it from the bullpen to the mound. They multiplied before he began warming, then really picked up upon introduction. A leadoff single amplified them. Each time, the boos would start and eventually stop for the next at-bat, though they would resume at some point.
The runner eventually scored, but Nathan held it there, getting a game-ending double play to finish off a 4-2 win. And as the boos turned to cheers for a big win finished, Nathan kept his celebration to a point at his catcher, Alex Avila, and congratulations from his teammates. There was no chin-flick, no look into the stands.
“I held it in,” Nathan said. “I definitely didn’t want to have any reaction tonight, kind of just get back to trying to finish games, try to keep my emotions in check. But I knew it was important, my first time back on the mound since the incident. Just wanted to give the fans something to cheer about before they try to battle traffic with One Direction going on [next door at Ford Field].”