Results tagged ‘ Avisail Garcia ’

Garcia out until further notice with right heel contusion

The good news on Avisail Garcia is that x-rays taken Saturday on his right heel came back negative, confirming nothing more than a contusion. The bad news, certainly for his chances of making this team out of camp, is that the right heel contusion will sidelined him until further notice, according to head athletic trainer Kevin Rand.

“He’ll be treatment only until he’s asymptomatic,” Rand said.

Garcia suffered the injury lunging at first base trying to beat out an infield grounder Saturday against the Cardinals and left the game. He was moving around the clubhouse in a walking boot and on crutches Sunday morning and told reporters he couldn’t put weight on his foot.

At this point, Rand said, Garcia is more than day-to-day.

The Tigers open the season in Minnesota in 15 days. Garcia’s chances at making the team already were shaky considering team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski’s quote earlier this spring that Garcia and Nick Castellanos were unlikely to make the team unless they were projected to get enough at-bats to not stunt their growth.

Tigers emerge as suitor (front-runner?) for Torii Hunter

Torii Hunter’s play as a Minnesota Twins outfielder early in his career earned him the title as a Tiger killer around these parts. After all these years, it’s now realistic for Detroit fans to consider the possibility of Hunter becoming a Tiger.

It might not take long to figure out, one way or the other.

The Tigers are interested in Hunter, as reported earlier Monday by CBSSports.com’s Danny Knobler, and as has been expected since team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski laid out their needs for a corner outfielder two weeks ago. Between Detroit’s season-long struggles against left-handed pitching, its desire to become more athletic, its lack of a proven second hitter between Austin Jackson and Miguel Cabrera, and Delmon Young’s departure as a free agent taking away one of Detroit’s key right-handed hitters, the Tigers’ needs fit Hunter’s strengths.

Just as encouraging, there are signs the interest is mutual, and strong. Whether the Tigers should be considered the front-runners for Hunter, as MLB Network Radio’s Jim Bowden put it, is a matter of perception, one that could change if another of his suitors (Knobler mentioned Texas, while the Rays, Phillies and Red Sox have also been mentioned in reports for possible one-year offers) steps up in the coming days. But signs point towards a logical match between Hunter and Detroit.

Hunter, moreover, sounded like he already has a team or teams in mind.

“It’s going to be quick,” Hunter told MLB Network’s Hot Stove morning show with Harold Reynolds. “I’m not going to wait it out. I know who I want to play for.”

Hunter didn’t mention which teams, but he said he’s looking to win, not simply get paid.

“Everybody knows I want to win,” Hunter told MLB Network, “so whatever team’s out there that wants to win and can use me and let me be a part of it, that’s who I want to be playing with.”

Hunter just finished a five-year, $90 million contract with the Angels. He has plenty of money, and he has a son who just committed to a football scholarship at Notre Dame.

That said, it’s expected to take a multi-year deal to sign Hunter, a fact which impacts his market at age 37. If he were to settle on a one-year deal, his field expands.

It leaves the Tigers with an intriguing decision. Detroit has two highly regarded, right-handed hitting outfield prospects with postseason hero Avisail Garcia and Futures Game MVP Nick Castellanos. Both are expected to have a chance to compete for a job in Spring Training, possibly a timeshare with Andy Dirks or Brennan Boesch in one corner outfield spot.

The other corner spot is open, and that’s where Hunter fits in. Add in Hunter’s clubhouse presence and track record of working with young outfielders — Mike Trout credited Hunter’s help as an impact on him during his Rookie of the Year interview Monday night on MLB Network — and he’s one potential signing that could improve two spots, not to mention his potential impact on center fielder Austin Jackson.

However, a two-year deal for Hunter likely would mean a longer wait for Castellanos or Garcia. It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, an extra year or two of development, but it’s something the win-now Tigers have to weigh.

Dombrowski’s end-of-season remarks (with notes)

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.

Game 8: Garcia makes an impression

Jim Leyland has been pretty vocal in his praise of Tigers prospects lately. He said Justin Henry has “turned into a prospect” as a left-handed hitting utility player, a commodity whose value Don Kelly has shown the last few years. He said Casey Crosby “could be a really good Major League pitcher” given some work with his command.

On Avisail Garcia, the 20-year-old Venezuelan outfielder with Miguel Cabrera’s body frame and a leadoff hitter’s speed, Leyland didn’t have to say much. Garcia’s play Saturday in just the later innings made his case for him.

“He’s got a great arm. He’s a very good outfielder. He’s a very good young talent,” Leyland said. “He got a big hit. He’s just a good young player. When he pops, it’s going to be big-time.”

He’s a distance from that yet, and the ultimate question with his Major League future will come down to whether he hits. His athletic ability, however, is unquestioned, though it got tested Saturday.

Garcia has made several running or sliding catches already this spring, and his loping journey to run down Jesus Flores’ flared fly ball in foul territory in shallow right field was one of the better ones given the distance he had to cover. But to then whirl and fire to third base was something else.

The throw was strong enough that he nearly got the ball to third base on the fly. Even with the short hop, he got it there easily ahead of the runner. But then, the runner might have frozen in shock anyway at the sight of the ball getting there.

Garcia didn’t have a doubt. He said through an interpreter that he knew the runner would go, and that he knew he had a play. Asked what he thought his chances were when he released the ball, he had a one-word answer: “Out.”

“That was a heckuva play,” Leyland said. “He’s a talented kid. He’s got talent.”

Asked what was bigger, his double play from right field or his double that put him on base for the tying run in the eighth inning, Garcia had another one-word answer: “Both.”

The double, too, showed off his athleticism; he was flying around first base as the ball hit the gap.

At some point, maybe in the first round of cuts, Garcia will head across the street to minor-league camp. But he has an excellent chance to open the season at Double-A Erie, where we should get a pretty good idea what kind of offense he’s got. The Florida State League, where Garcia spent last season at Class A Lakeland, tends to be more of a pitcher-friendly league. Between the smaller ballparks of the Eastern League and the friendly confines of Jerry Uht Park in Erie — including a hockey arena out beyond left field, he’s definitely headed to a hitter-friendly environment. He could be very fun to watch.

What we learned: Brandon Inge has some punch back in his bat at age 34, a strong suggestion that his offseason workout routine and added muscle has made at least some difference.

What to remember from Game 8: It isn’t just the stuff that Justin Verlander can throw that makes him good, or the attention he places on the most minute details. It’s also the muscle memory Verlander has built up in his mechanics that work, and his ability in recent years to fix himself and work back into a good form when he doesn’t have it at game’s start. After a first-inning in which he couldn’t locate much of anything to his standards, he rebounded in the second for back-to-back called third strikes on offspeed pitches.

Hey, it’s only Spring Training: The good news for Austin Jackson is that he seems to have a quicker swing. The bad news is that this quicker swing doesn’t do much good if he’s caught looking at strike three with his bat on his shoulder. He struck out looking in each of his first two plate appearances Saturday, then drew a walk in his third and final time up before being replaced by a pinch-runner. That means he didn’t put a ball in play today. He has struck out seven times in 17 plate appearances this camp, but he’s 4-for-7 when he puts the ball in play.

The highlight play you missed: If this game had been televised, Garcia’s throw from foul territory in right field to third base, nearly on the fly, would’ve been one of the best defensive plays you’ve seen in quite a while. As such, it fits this category. Since that was mentioned already, I’ll offer up a bonus: Alex Avila threw out Nationals speedster Roger Bernadina trying to steal second, and he did it with a one-hop throw that still beat Bernadina to second. Washington went 0-for-2 on stolen-base attempts off Avila.

Fun fact: Garcia was signed in 2007 for a $200,000 bonus.

None-game note of the day: Both Miguel Cabrera and Don Kelly were on the field early Saturday morning to take ground balls from the coaching staff. Some were off the fungo bat; others were thrown by a coach.

Looking ahead: The Tigers break up into split squads for the first time this spring, with both teams going on the road for 1:05pm ET games against the Phillies in Clearwater and the Astros in Kissimmee. For pitching assignments and travel rosters, please check the next entry down on this blog.

To-do list for Sunday: See how Drew Smyly reacts to Major League hitters in a starting assignment. He’ll be pitching against the Astros. Depending on Danny Worth and a side injury that Leyland mentioned, top prospect Nick Castellanos might also get a start at third for the Tigers if Danny Worth can’t go due to a strained side.

Tigers agree to terms with six players

With the Tigers pretty well done in free agency and clear of arbitration, they began the process of signing their younger players by reaching agreement with six members of their 40-man roster on Tuesday.

Lefty starting candidates Duane Below and Casey Crosby reached agreement on one-year contracts, as did prospects Avisail Garcia, Jose Ortega, Tyler Stohr and Brayan Villarreal. The deals raise the total of signed Tigers to 24 players on the 40-man roster.

The deals are essentially a foregone conclusion. Players on the 40-man roster without enough time in the Majors to qualify for arbitration can either negotiate a contract with the team or have the club renew their contract at the last possible date – this year, it’s March 11. Most players will reach an agreement before then.

None of the players who agreed to terms Tuesday have a full season in the big leagues yet. In fact, Below is the only one with more than a month in the Majors. He turned a couple of midsummer spot starts into a bullpen role down the stretch in a pennant race, and could be poised to win a rotation spot out of camp this year.

The 26-year-old Michigan native went 0-2 with a 4.34 ERA in 14 games, allowing 28 hits over 29 innings with 11 walks and 14 strikeouts.

Crosby came out of the same 2007 draft that brought Rick Porcello to the Tigers. The left-hander passed up on a football scholarship to Illinois to sign with Detroit for a bonus just under $750,000 before injuries slowed his development. A healthy 2011 season put him back on the prospect watch with a 9-7 record and 4.10 ERA at Double-A Erie. Team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski mentioned him last week as part of the rotation competition for the lone open spot.

Villarreal was the surprise of last year’s camp, making the Tigers’ Opening Day roster as a reliever. The 24-year-old right-hander gave up 12 earned runs on 21 hits over 16 innings before spending the rest of the season at Triple-A Toledo.

First round of roster cuts

The Tigers made their first round of roster moves Tuesday, and as expected, it cleared a big chunk of the clubhouse. Yet none of them were of particular surprise.

Among the players on the 40-man roster, Duane Below, Audy Ciriaco, Cale Iorg, Andy Oliver, Lester Oliveros, Jose Ortega and Ryan Strieby were optioned to Triple-A Toledo. Jacob Turner was optioned to Double-A Erie, so it appears he’ll take that step up to start the season rather than wait until the weather warms up.

Among the non-roster invites, here’s teh list of guys optioned to minor-league camp: John Bale, Rob Brantly, Brandon Douglas, Avisail Garcia, Ben Guez, Bryan Holaday, Patrick Leyland, John Murrian, Chris Oxspring and Omir Santos.

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