Results tagged ‘ Andy Dirks ’
A day after the Tigers had to scratch Andy Dirks from the lineup with an intercostal muscle issue, manager Jim Leyland said Dirks is feeling much better. Dirks could have played today against the Phillies in Clearwater, Leyland indicated, but they decided to play it safe instead of rushing him back against a lefty.
Before the injury, Dirks was on the travel roster to Kissimmee for Tuesday’s game against the Astros. No word whether he’ll be back on there now that he’s healthy, but with Nick Castellanos playing the entire game in left field today against the Phillies, as is Jeff Kobernus at DH, the rosters would lend themselves to seeing Dirks play Tuesday.
There are few things faster in baseball these days than a Bruce Rondon fastball. It has been clocked as high as 102 mph, including during the Futures Game in July at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium.
The only thing faster in the Tigers organization than Rondon’s fastball might be the track he’s on.
Dave Dombrowski’s end-of-season remarks are an annual tradition now, painting the roadmap for the Tigers offseason, both for what they might look to do and what their plans are with pending players. It also seems there’s usually a prospect or two that gets some lift out of it.
Three years ago, it was Scott Sizemore. Last year, Drew Smyly got a mention. Today might well go down as the day Dombrowski set the path for Rondon.
Everybody figured him to be a closer of the future with these guys. Tuesday was the day we found just how near that future might be.
“I would not discount Bruce Rondon in the competition for our closer role for next year,” Dombrowski said. “I’m not saying he’s going to be our closer, but I do not discount him in that role.
“He is a guy that throws — and people don’t sometimes believe this, but it is true — he averages 100 miles an hour and topped off at 103, and throws his breaking stuff for consistent strikes.”
Dombrowski confirmed what others had speculated, that Rondon was a serious consideration for a call-up leading into September this year, which would’ve made him eligible for the postseason roster. Had they known that Valverde was going to struggle the way they did, they would’ve done it, which would’ve put a whole different look on Detroit’s closer by committee.
“This guy is a special potential closer with the makeup of a closer,” Dombrowski continued, “and normally you’re not going to thrust that in a young guy’s hands and say automatically, ‘It’s your job.’ But it would not surprise me if he earned that job. With the number of good arms that are out there, there are not many arms like this, and he cherishes that type of role.”
Dombrowski wasn’t the only one touting Rondon. When Leyland was asked about the difference between going with a closer by committee in a postseason and doing that for a full season, he hesitated.
“I’ve handled those situations before, but who’s to say we won’t have a closer,” Leyland countered. “I think we will have a closer. I think it might be a surprise closer, but I think we might have one. And I’m not talking about Phil Coke, by the way. Not that I don’t like Phil Coke.”
Someone then mentioned Rondon.
“Rondon’s a good name. Here’s a kid, who knows? Believe me, I’m not putting my blessing on Rondon as a closer for next year, but I’m just mentioning that name as a possibility. When you’ve got an arm like that, that’s a possibility. Now, could he handle it mentally, could he handle it in a three-tier stadium with the bright lights? I don’t have a clue.”
It’s an interesting contrast. The last Tigers reliever who threw as hard as Bruce Rondon does was Joel Zumaya, who crashed the roster to become a force in a setup relief role in 2006. At no point did Zumaya ever earn the closer’s job, partly because of injuries but not entirely.
The last rookie to have any sort of closing job in Detroit was Franklyn German, who shared the job in 2003. However, a closer’s role on a 43-119 team isn’t exactly like a regular job. German shared the team lead in saves — with five.
If you count Fernando Rodney’s time down the stretch in 2005, the Tigers have had experienced closers in the role every year since 2006.
“You see [Aroldis] Chapman close and there’s been other young guys close for clubs,” Dombrowski said. “I know it hasn’t been our normal situation. People know how good an arm Zumaya had, this guy has every bit and it comes out easier with less effort in his delivery.”
Dombrowski is aware of their track record. He’s also well-aware he has a team that’s expected to win next year, a team that opened as a World Series favorite this week.
“I think you also have to be open-minded and flexible,” Dombrowski said. “It’s just like a couple years ago when in 2006, Verlander and Zumaya jumped up pretty good for us at that point. This guy [Rondon] is a talented guy. He’s a rare talent. You would not believe the number of clubs that called me about Bruce Rondon to trade him. If I had a choice of any young closer in baseball to give an opportunity to in any organization, it would be him. Now would be ready? I don’t know that. But he is that good.”
Here’s a roundup of the other remarks he had:
- Dombrowski was on the fence on whether Dirks has a full-time starting role for next year: ”Dirks is a good player. Is he an every-day player at this point? I don’t know. He might be. I know he’s a real good player. Can he combine with somebody? So I think we’ll just kind of look at that.”
- Dombrowski poo-poohed the idea that they could non-tender Brennan Boesch. “We’ll tender him a contract,” Dombrowski said. ”He’s not where we would like him to be at this point, because if we did he’d have been on our roster for the postseason, so that’s a pretty obvious summation. But I think it’s the case that he still has ability, he can still hit the ball out of the ballpark. We still see some untapped potential, and he has struggled some.”
- When asked what went wrong in the World Series, Dombrowski cited the offense, and pointed to an article that said they went 1-for-17 when putting pitches in play that were over the middle of the plate (not sure which article, otherwise I’d provide a link). “They pitched well,” Dombrowski said, “but we also didn’t hit the pitches we could handle. Why didn’t they do that? Was the timing a little bit off? Maybe. Did they keep off timing with the layover, did they keep them off-balance with the stuff that they threw, changing speeds? I’m sure that, too. Did they start pressing a little bit, try to do too much? Maybe a combination of all that. But it’s almost hard to believe when you say they went 1-for-17 on balls down the middle of the plate.”
- Quintin Berry will go into camp with a chance to compete for a spot on the roster. Coincidentally, Leyland said that with Victor Martinez back, they’ll have a use for a pinch-runner on their bench.
- The Tigers will designate Don Kelly for assignment later on this week, Dombrowski said, to open a spot on the 40-man roster. From there, clubs will have a chance to claim him, just as they did when the Tigers designated him in August. If he isn’t claimed, however, the Tigers would like to bring him back on a minor-league contract to compete for a roster spot. “He knows how well thought of he is here,” Dombrowski said. “But I also know that other people are in a position where somebody may offer him a better opportunity. That’s what guys look for when they’re free agents.”
- No comment on the status of Ryan Raburn, because Dombrowski hasn’t had a chance to talk with him yet. They still have him under team control for a year, so technically they don’t have to do anything if they want to keep him. If they want to use his roster spot for someone else, well, that’s another matter, and one they would probably want to talk with him about.
- Dombrowski did not want to get into the possibility of contract talks with Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, both two years away from free agency. That’s a matter he still has to discuss with ownership. However, he said they’d like to have both for a long time.
- Avisail Garcia, Dombrowski said, is a “tough call” on whether he makes the roster next year. ”He has star potential,” Dombrowski said. “He’s a five-tool player. I’m not sure that he’s ready as a corner outfielder to give us the contributions that we need on an overall basis at this time, but I’m not sure that he’s not. He is going to play everyday in winter ball for Magglio’s team in Venezuela. I think he’s a guy that we’ll keep a real close eye on in how he develops over the wintertime.”
- If the Tigers can’t re-sign Sanchez, Dombrowski didn’t sound particularly strong about getting another starter to fill his spot, saying it would have to be a substantial improvement over what they have.
- Smyly would not be viewed as a full-time reliever.
- Dombrowski is not concerned about Scherzer going into the offseason. ”What happened,” Dombrowski said, “was [his shoulder] got tired like a lot of your muscles get tired, and it’s just more a mater of it needing some rest and then building it back up. So he got some rest and built it back up, but at that time period you don’t have a chance to go out there every five days and build it up. So the feeling is with Scherzer that he’ll be absolutely fine.”
- A second lefty reliever isn’t a high priority for the Tigers to acquire this winter. Dombrowski believes they can fill the spot in-house, though he didn’t rule out adding an arm.
For all practical purposes, Jim Leyland’s question over whether to bunt the potential winning run over to second base in the ninth inning Thursday was academic, since the signal never got to Ramon Santiago at the plate and Santiago swung away. Still, Leyland said, the question over whether to go for the win or tie the game stuck with him all night.
He had a different conclusion today than he did yesterday.
“I thought about it all night, and I came to the conclusion I [messed] up one thing: I should have never even thought about bunting Santiago,” Leyland said.
He didn’t change his thoughts on how the inning played out from there. With no outs, he was not going to call for a squeeze bunt, nor was he going to have Omar Infante try to steal second and risk a line drive double play.
“Not with nobody out,” Leyland said. “If he hits a line drive, it’s a double play. In fact, if I had sent him with Santiago, it would’ve been a double play. First and third, nobody out, for the most part, no matter who’s hitting, you’ll very rarely see me send a guy, because a ground ball, you get the run.”
Nor was he going to use either of the two hitters on the bench, Delmon Young, or Jeff Baker to pinch-hit in that situation.
“All we needed was contact, anywhere on the ground. Contact, or fly ball, contact anywhere, and we get the tying run in,” Leyland said. “And I was worried about the strikeout, because that guy’s real nasty. …
“The funny part about it was I had Delmon Young ready to pinch-hit, but as the inning played [out], it played totally different than what I needed him to pinch-hit for. I was only going to pinch-hit for him if there was like two outs and nobody on, because it was Avila, Infante and Santiago. With two out, nobody on, I was going to let him take a shot at maybe hitting a homer. But [not] after all we needed was a ground ball or a fly ball.”
The big regret, he said, was thinking about having Santiago bunt, and planting the idea in Santiago’s head beforehand that they might call for the bunt.
“When he went up there, I said look for this first pitch to hit, just like he did to Infante. We didn’t bunt, but I knew he’d lay something in there thinking we were bunting. And I told Santi the same thing. Well, he took the first pitch, and I was actually trying to get the bunt on, which we didn’t. But I should’ve just let him [hit], because I told him afterwards that he might bunt.
“We had the tying run. If he just hits a ground ball or a fly ball or anything, we’ve got the tying run. I should’ve just let him think about hitting all the way, not even mention bunt. Because if he gets the run in with a fly ball, you’ve still got a guy on first. You’ve got Berry hitting. You’ve got Dirks coming up. You might hit and run, you might do something. I mean, we had the tie right there. If he hits a ground ball to second [for a] double play, we’ve got the game tied. I shouldn’t have even been thinking bunt. That’s where I messed up.”
The Tigers came into Tuesday’s game against the Yankees weighting their lineup towards right-handed hitters against Phil Hughes, a right-hander who has been far tougher on lefties than righties this year. They won in part with two RBI singles from Andy Dirks and two tough at-bats from Brennan Boesch, both left-handed hitters.
On Wednesday, they’ll face an actual left-handed pitcher, CC Sabathia, who has been tough on left-handed hitters for the better part of a decade. And so, manager Jim Leyland will give Jeff Baker, the right-handed utilityman they acquired over the weekend, his first playing time with a start in left field. Gerald Laird will start behind the plate (hopefully finishing the game this time), and Ramon Santiago will start in place of Jhonny Peralta, who’s a right-handed hitter but who’s 2-for-20 off Sabathia.
This is the flexibility Leyland wanted from his roster down the stretch, particularly in the outfield. He admits he felt starting pitcher was a bigger priority than extra right-handed bat, but he still wanted the latter to fill out the roster. Now that he has what he needed, he says he’s going to try to get everyone involved, particularly in the outfield. But it won’t be easy.
“We have a chance right now to have everybody involved,” Leyland said. “Everybody has a chance to be a hero. But everybody’s got to buy in.”
With that in mind, Leyland said he met with all of his outfielders earlier this week and tried to let them know his plans.
“I told them, ‘I can play four of six every day, but I can’t play you all every day,’” he said. “I explained it to them so everybody knows their situation and everybody knows they might not be in the lineup every day with the exception of [Austin] Jackson. Everybody knows pretty much what they’re going to be doing and you just ask them to be on board and be patient with it, because I’m happy with all the outfielders. But I can only play three in the outfield and one DH. That’s four; we got six. That’s fun but it also keeps people fresh.”
That holds especially true against most right-handed starters, since they have three left-handed hitters in Boesch, Dirks and Quintin Berry. Leyland said Tuesday night that he’ll start Berry on Thursday against Hiroki Kuroda. It’ll be Berry’s first start in five days.
“When you have a dilemma, and it’s a good dilemma, you meet it head-on,” Leyland said.
Andy Dirks will spend at least another week in a walking boot while receiving shock wave therapy on his strained right achilles. The Tigers outfielder, who hasn’t played since May 30, was examined by Tigers foot/ankle specialist Dr. Chris Zingas on Friday in Detroit.
“He’s not right. He’s not ready to start any baseball activities,” manager Jim Leyland said. “We were hoping for that. We didn’t get it.”
The examination, Tigers head athletic trainer Kevin Rand, showed improvement, but still some discomfort.
“He’s much improved,” Rand said, “but still has point tenderness there. So he’s going to continue to be in teh boot for another week and he’ll also receive shock wave therapy.”
The delay seemingly would push any timetable for a Dirks return past the All-Star break. While he was cleared to start running on a special treadmill, that’s about the extent of his physical activity. He’ll begin a more full-fledged running program once he’s cleared.
Delmon Young returned to left field this past weekend out of necessity, thanks to Interleague play and National League rules. Turns out he might still get some starts there once the Tigers return home and get their designated hitter slot back next weekend against the Rockies.
Young went 2-for-13 with a solo homer, a double and four strikeouts over the three-game series in Cincinnati, where he started all three games in left field. He also made a costly misplay in left field Saturday on a ball he lost in the sunlight. His batting average for the season dropped from .261 to .254. However, he’s still batting better as a left fielder (.277 average, .759 OPS) than as a DH (.244, .640).
Young began the season playing in left field and struggled out of the gate in April. He missed a week on MLB’s restricted list in the wake of his arrest in New York City at the end of April on aggravated harrassment and hate crime charges, then returned in early May to find himself virtually a full-time DH.
Manager Jim Leyland isn’t promising Young a lot of play in the outfield, but would like to use him there a couple days a week, he said after Sunday night’s win.
“I talked to him a little bit about this — DH four or five times a week, but play the outfield a couple [times], but to break it up for him I think would help,” Leyland said. “I’ve talked about all these things. We’ve been making plans for it, but it seems like we have somebody different every day that can’t go, so we haven’t been able to do exactly what we wanted.”
Most of the starts in left will go to Andy Dirks once he returns from the 15-day disabled list, potentially later this week. Quintin Berry could stick with the team in a reserve role, though Young getting a start or two in left might work against the speedy Berry.
Leyland also didn’t commit full-time to Dirks returning to the second spot in the lineup. He said he could continue play Brennan Boesch there if he remains on a hot streak.
I’m back on the beat after a few off-days for the KC series, so I checked with Andy Dirks and Doug Fister on their injuries before batting practice.
Dirks, who left Tuesday’s win over the Royals when his left hamstring tightened rounding third base, said he’s doing rehab work and hopes to progress to on-field work on Friday.
“It’s kind of just day-to-day right now,” Dirks said, “but I should be able to do things soon.”
As for Fister, his said they’re back to working out the soreness from his left rib cage area after he aggravated it throwing off the mound on Tuesday. He also sounded like they’re going to proceed cautiously from here, though he didn’t necessarily believe he was pushing it by throwing earlier this week.
“It’s always frustrating,” Fister said, “but I’ve just got to take it in stride.”
The Tigers took care of the roster part of Brennan Boesch’s season-ending thumb surgery by placing the outfielder on the 15-day disabled list Friday.
The move is a formality, but an important one. It makes no difference for the regular-season roster, since rosters are expanded for September and they don’t need the extra room. For the postseason roster, however, it might allow them to carry a player they otherwise couldn’t. Though players usually have to be on the 25-man roster or DL on Aug. 31 to be eligible for the postseason, teams can fill spots left open by players on the DL. Anyone who’s on the 40-man roster as of Aug. 31 can fill those spots, even if they’re not with the team until September (think Andy Dirks, for example).
The Tigers already had two potential spots with Joel Zumaya and Brad Thomas on the DL with season-ending injuries. Boesch makes it three.
Boesch underwent surgery Tuesday in Cleveland to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb. He’s expected to be ready in time for the start of Spring Training, but won’t be ready for the postseason no matter how far the Tigers might advance.
With rosters now expanded, the Tigers made their first batch of September call-ups on Thursday. Most were already unexpected, some were not.
- Carlos Guillen was activated from the 15-day disabled list. He wasn’t really a September call-up, but by waiting until Sept. 1 to activate him, the Tigers didn’t have to send down anyone. He isn’t in the starting lineup Thursday, but he likely will be on Friday. How second base goes from there is anyone’s guess.
- Will Rhymes was recalled from Triple-A Toledo. Though the Tigers’ abundance of second baseman would seemingly make it hard for him to crack the starting lineup, Jim Leyland said he might play some at second.
- Andy Dirks was recalled, as expected. His left-handed bat in the outfield becomes potentially big with Brennan Boesch still working his way back. Even after Boesch comes back, he’ll probably have a significant role.
- Jacob Turner was recalled for his scheduled start this afternoon. After that, he’ll stay with team and keep his arm ready as a potential spot starter in case of a rainout or a scratch. Would not be a surprise at all to see him get another start this month, maybe even in the final week.
- As the SeaWolves announced a couple days ago, Luis Marte’s contract was purchased from Double-A Erie. He adds some depth to the bullpen. By all reports, he has a nasty breaking ball, so it’ll be interesting to see if he gets called into some strikeout situations.
Brandon Inge’s return from exile will come a little earlier than expected. Not only will the Tigers purchase his contract from Triple-A Toledo Saturday, they’ll put him in the starting lineup against Indians lefty starter David Huff Saturday night. From there, a very interesting mix at third base is going to unfold for the stretch run.
Jim Leyland made the announcement on the Inge move, and he explained it as this: The Tigers expect to see four or five left-handed starters between now and Sept. 1, when Inge was expected to come up. Inge has been pounding left-handed pitching while with the Mud Hens, 15-for-38 (.395) with three home runs and nine RBIs against lefties when you add in his rehab assignment in June. Yes, those are Triple-A lefties rather than David Price, whom the Tigers are scheduled to face next week. But they’re also signs of a comfort level.
Though Wilson Betemit’s a switch-hitter, his splits are much stronger against righties (.313) than lefties (.238, 34 strikeouts in 90 plate appearances). He also had been giving up starts to Don Kelly for defensive purposes.
Leyland floated the idea Wednesday. He followed through on Friday.
The move to send down Andy Dirks is more procedural than performance. The Tigers can option him out and bring him back Sept. 1 with no problem, and they
should might be able to get him eligible for a postseason roster spot if they choose, in case of a player on the DL. And with the slate of lefties they have ahead of them, though Dirks has fared pretty well against southpaws, they’re not going to sit Austin Jackson, Brennan Boesch, Delmon Young or Magglio Ordonez to get Dirks a spot against them.