Results tagged ‘ Carlos Guillen ’

Carlos Guillen gets his wish (seven months later)

In the end, Carlos Guillen got what he wanted, if only because the Tigers got what they needed.

When Guillen complained about his situation last fall, griped about being taken out for late-inning defensive purposes in the outfield last year, he gave the distinct impression that he would be happier playing in the infield. He had changed positions time and again for the good of the team since moving out from shortstop late in the 2007 season. He wasn’t injured as often as a Tiger, he said, when he played shortstop, though one could argue against that.
Beneath the talk about health, the second-guessing of moves, the complaints about an ever-changing lineup was his case to move to second base if the Tigers didn’t re-sign Placido Polanco. The Tigers shot down that idea quickly, saying they were committed to Scott Sizemore. They also came back to the belief that Guillen would have a hard time staying healthy playing the infield every day.
Seven months after those comments, Sizemore is struggling, Brennan Boesch is thriving in Guillen’s old left field/DH role, the Tigers need more offense in their lineup, and Guillen is close to returning from his left hamstring pull. The Tigers needed to get creative to find a way to keep Guillen and Boesch in the same lineup. They did so by deciding that idea of Guillen as an infielder again wasn’t so crazy after all.
“Carlos is a tremendous veteran player,” Leyland said. “Obviously, we want to find a spot for him every day. I think they would probably run me out of town if we sent Boesch down, so I don’t think that would be a very bright move. And you’ve got Johnny Damon, so what you do is because of the situation with Scott Sizemore. I think it’s going to give us another bat in the lineup.”
Manager Jim Leyland sat down with Guillen Saturday and talked about it, but he probably didn’t have to. Give Guillen an infielder’s glove, and he was probably going to be on board with this. The unanswered questions can come later.
If the Tigers felt last year, two years ago, three years ago like Guillen couldn’t stay healthy for a season as an infielder, what changed to make them feel like Guillen — who’s coming off a hamstring injury he suffered rounding third base — can hold up at second base? The realistic answer is the need was big enough for them to give it a shot. If it doesn’t work out, they have other options at second. If Guillen gets hurt, hey, they gave it a shot.
“He’s obviously caught a lot of ground balls in his career,” Leyland said. “Over at second base, obviously, it’s not as strenuous as shortstop. We think that that’s going to give us another offensive bat that pushes some things down further. We think it’s a logical move.”
How long do the Tigers plan on going with this? I have no idea. There are so many moving parts that could change this, it’s almost not even worth discussing how long. Guillen’s health is only one of the factors, but it’s by far the biggest. How long Boesch can keep up this hitting as pitchers try to get him to chase bad pitches is another. What Sizemore does at Triple-A Toledo to recover and earn a trip back is still another. Injuries to other Tigers outfielders could change plans just the same.
Leyland definitely wasn’t talking about looking that far ahead. He’s looking at the potential spark to the lineup from Guillen batting sixth in the lineup between Boesch and Brandon Inge. Still, two important Tigers who had trouble communicating at season’s end are now seemingly on the same wavelength.

Sizemore, Scherzer to Toledo; Worth coming up

The first Saturday night fireworks of the season at Comerica Park weren’t just on the field. After the Tigers’ comeback win over the Red Sox, they made three key changes to their roster, optioning starting second baseman Scott Sizemore and key starting pitcher Max Scherzer to Triple-A Toledo and anointing Carlos Guillen as the new starter at second when he returns from the disabled list.

Armando Galarraga, who was already being recalled from Toledo to start Sunday’s series finale against Boston, will stay in the rotation. To replace Sizemore, the Tigers purchased the contract of infielder Danny Worth, who could make his Major League debut as soon as Sunday at second base.

Manager Jim Leyland said he’ll fill second base with some combination of Ramon Santiago, Worth and utilityman Don Kelly until Guillen is ready. Guillen, currently on the 15-day DL with a strained left hamstring, has been taking ground balls the past couple days and is expected to begin a rehab assignment sometime next week after the Tigers’ current homestand ends Tuesday.

The moves and announcements came just before midnight after Detroit’s 12-inning victory, and they came in a flurry.

The Tigers tabbed Scherzer to fill the void in the middle of their rotation immediately upon acquiring the gifted 25-year-old from Arizona in the Edwin Jackson trade last December. After four encouraging April starts, however, he fell into a deep four-start struggle that saw him battle his mechanics moreso than hitters.

Scherzer gave up 27 runs on 33 hits over 18 innings in his last four starts, the last three of them losses. The capper came Friday night, when he surrendered three home runs — including a 450-foot drive from David Ortiz — tagged him with six runs on six hits over five innings.

Scherzer has given up nine home runs this season, tying him for second in the American League entering Saturday.

Scherzer would’ve been on track to start next Thursday at Oakland. Instead, the Tigers will likely slot Dontrelle Willis into that outing, pitching him in his hometown. Galarraga can then start Friday against the Dodgers on his regular turn after starting Sunday.

Galarraga has boasted impressive numbers in Toledo, owning a 4-2 record with a 3.92 ERA. With a strike-to-ball ratio of better than 2-to-1, his command seems to have improved since last season with the Tigers, where he posted a 6-10 record in 25 starts before being relegated to bullpen duties.

The 25-year-old Sizemore has struggled for the vast majority of this season to date, but has fallen on particularly tough times lately. His two strikeouts against Red Sox lefty Jon Lester Saturday night extended his current slump to 0-for-14 and dropped his average to .206. He hit one home run and added eight RBIs, part of the struggles at the bottom of the Tigers order.

The telling sign came Saturday night, when manager Jim Leyland used Ramon Santiago to pinch-hit for Sizemore in the eighth inning of a tie game with Red Sox left-hander Hideki Okajima and the potential go-ahead run on third with one out. Santiago lined out to third and stayed in the game at second base before drawing the walkoff walk to drive in the winning run in the 12th.

The 24-year-old Worth was once among the Tigers’ shortstop prospects, having been drafted in the second round of the 2007 Draft out of Pepperdine. He largely struggled as a hitter in his first three seasons, but has proven valuable around the infield this year at Toledo, where he entered Saturday batting .274 with five doubles, two homers and 14 RBIs.  He has played at shortstop, second and third.

Monday notes: Hit or out, Laird making solid contact

Gerald Laird isn’t going to be a stellar hitter, or even necessarily a really good one statistically. I think we can agree on that one. What most people would settle for is for him not be overmatched nearly as often and for the ability to hit the ball hard when he makes contact.

Monday was that kind of day. Laird went 1-for-4 with a single and an RBI, but he also had a deep fly ball to the warning track in right-center field. It was the wrong place for him to hit the ball; he’ll readily admit he’s better off as a pull hitter. But it also shows the ability to make hard contact.

“I’m just excited that it’s coming,” Laird said. “I know I’m barreling the ball again. I’m getting back to where I felt comfortable when I had some good years in Texas. It’s exciting. I may not be getting the hits every time, but as long as I’m putting the barrel on the ball and hitting the ball hard, I’m excited. Save some of it for the season.”

Jim Leyland gave Laird some advice this spring: Hit a bunch of balls off a batting tee every morning, so that he has the same swing path every time.

Other notes …

  • Leyland wants to see his team bunting more. He counted opportunities that Ramon Santiago and Clete Thomas to lay down drag bunts with runners on base in recent days. He also said the bunt could be a weapon for Austin Jackson.
  • It got overlooked today, but Carlos Guillen had a smart piece of baserunning going first to third on an RBI single while nobody was paying attention to cover third. The throw home was cut off in plenty of time to nab Guillen, but nobody was covering the base. Not a fast baserunner anymore, but a smart one.
  • Leyland called the new deal between Joe Mauer and the Twins a no-brainer. “There’s certain guys you almost can’t let get away.” Leyland didn’t relate it to anything in Pittsburgh, but the Pirates had a guy or two that they arguably shouldn’t have let get away, either.
  • If you’re hanging around Lakeland and wondering what to do on the Tigers’ off-day Wednesday, Rick Porcello is throwing in a simulated game.
  • Joel Zumaya was on the pitching list for Monday’s game, but he didn’t make the trip because of flu-like symptoms. Apparently there’s a stomach virus that has been going around some of the Tigers, according to head athletic trainer Kevin Rand.

Leyland raving about prospects

What began as a drizzly morning here in Lakeland ended up a sun-soaked and warm afternoon, probably the first real sunscreen type of day since spring training began. Very good day for the Tigers to have their first full-squad workout, and manager Jim Leyland’s mood reflected it.

After one full-squad workout — and probably more important, one day of batting practice — Leyland was raving about the prospects the Tigers have coming up in the system.
“I can tell, we’ve got a lot of talent in this camp, down low [in the system] and up high. I mean, it was an eye-opener out there today.”

  • “There’s a lot of prospects, probably the most prospects I’ve ever had in a camp.”

  • “I can assure you that these guys will be in Detroit someday, a lot of them. I don’t know where I’ll be [at that time], but they will be.”

  • “There’s guys hitting balls over trees, way over trees. … When you have veterans doing double-takes to watch a kid hit, that’s usually a pretty good measuring stick.”

Leyland didn’t want to mention prospects by name when he was talking about this, but one can surmise that he was talking about, Ryan Strieby, Brennan Boesch and Casper Wells, among others. Wells reported to camp in noticeably strong shape after spending most of the winter working out with Strieby in Arizona at the API training facility. He almost looks like he’s got a linebacker’s build playing outfield.

What does this mean for Detroit? For now, probably nothing. Unless Wells makes a run and takes the CF job from Austin Jackson in camp, most of the hitting talent will be opening in Toledo, which has the chance for a really nice offense if you add in a healthy Jeff Larish and maybe Alex Avila. But keep it in mind as the summer unwinds and the Tigers get closer to next offseason, when Dombrowski suggested the Tigers will make more “adjustments.”

Anyway, on to some notes …

  • Speaking of youngsters, Scott Sizemore did everything that every other infielder did on the first formal workout for position players. He’s still coming along with the ankle, but it isn’t limiting what he can do. No definitive word yet over whether he’ll be able to start at second when games begin in a week, but it’s looking upbeat. “He needs to get at-bats,” Leyland said. “He needs to play second base this spring a lot.”
  • The Tigers designated Casey Fien for assignment to make room for Johnny Damon on the 40-man roster, but Fien isn’t leaving camp just yet. He’s just going across the street. Though he’s technically in limbo until he’s either claimed on waivers, traded or outrighted, he can work out at the Tigers’ minor league facility across the street. The team has invited and encouraged him to do so.
  • In addition to talking with Carlos Guillen about his role, Leyland said he talked with Johnny Damon about his situation and whether he feels more comfortable batting leadoff or hitting second. Damon said he’s fine either way, but that they involve two different approaches. He doesn’t hit for as high of an average or reach base to the same percentage hitting second compared to leadoff, but he can do some other things in his game.
  • Leyland didn’t really want to talk about Ryan Raburn’s situation this morning after just discussing Guillen, but he said in the afternoon that Raburn will work out in the infield as well as the outfield now that full-squad workouts are underway. That’s a change from the offseason, when Leyland said he wanted Raburn to focus on being an outfielder. Raburn and Don Kelly are probably going to see work at basically every position but shortstop, catcher and pitcher this spring.
  • Strieby, by the way, is going to see time at both 1B and OF this spring. He’ll most likely be an outfielder in Toledo as he tries to make the transition away from Miguel Cabrera’s position and into a spot where he could actually see some playing time in Detroit.

Mr. Damon, meet Mr. Guillen

Now that the White Sox have apparently put a deadline on their dealings with free-agent outfielder Johnny Damon — really, it sounds more like a Sunday deadline for Damon to accept their offer rather than pulling the offer — the long-running saga of where Damon is going to play might finally be reaching an end. And the discussion might start turning to how adding Damon might affect other Tigers on the roster.

Actually, it seems like it already has. And one of the oft-discussed questions being thrown around is how Carlos Guillen would react to being displaced from left field. After all, Guillen was vocal in his desire for an everyday position in interviews with MLB.com last October, once last season ended, and reached the point that Tigers officials scrambled to call him in Venezuela and agent Peter Greenberg in New York to reassure Guillen of his role.

Guillen hasn’t reported yet, so it’s hard to ask him. But here’s my take: I don’t think it’ll be as big of an issue as some might think.

For all the buzz Guillen made with his remarks last fall, including how a player can’t be productive when he’s moving around all the time, there was a timing to it. He had been simmering about it since early September, when he started switch-hitting again despite his shoulder injury so that he could get a chance to play against left-handed pitchers. He was frustrated then, but he didn’t want to be public about it. He wanted to wait until the season was over, because he didn’t want it to be a distraction while the team was in a playoff race.

If this team has a chance to win again — and with Damon, it’s hard to argue that the Tigers aren’t a division contender — I don’t think Guillen wants to be a rotten apple before the season even begins. He understands the situation, and he understands his trade value is next to nothing until he proves he can stay healthy.

Tigers still aren't looking for a DH

Just in case others thought the Tigers’ search for a left-handed bat had changed their outlook on adding a designated hitter, team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski reiterated that stance Saturday at TigerFest.

He isn’t ruling out adding a bat. But they’d better bring a glove with them.

“If we sign somebody, and we’ve said this all wintertime, we don’t want them to just DH,” Dombrowski said Saturday. “If we would ever do anything, that person needs to be primarily somebody that can play another position. Because we want to keep our DH spot open. Magglio and Carlos are in [the stage of] their careers, and even Miguel — but not to that extent — we’d like to give them a day off now and then. So for us, it’s important to be able to have that guy play another position. There are a lot of what I consider DH-type bats out there, but we’re really trying to put an emphasis on going and getting the ball and playing good defense. And so that flexibility for us is important.”

Guillen and the Tigers lineup

Jason Beck / MLB.com

Carlos Guillen said a lot about his own situation, both last week and over the weekend. What separated his comments over the weekend, beyond his stance that he didn’t want to play left field because of how the situation played out last year, was his frustration over Leyland’s lineup tinkering. Those comments weren’t just about himself, but the team in general.

It painted a picture of frustration over how much criticism hitters received for the Tigers’ struggles. To listen to Guillen tell it, the amount of lineup tinkering made it difficult for any hitter to get into a groove.

“Before he points the finger at the offense, he’d better look in the mirror and see what he did,” Guillen said Sunday. “I don’t want to make an excuse, but nobody in the big leagues feels comfortable when you play [lineups] that way. It’s not fun to play like that.”

Those are remarks that go beyond Guillen’s own situation and towards the team as a whole.

According to baseball-reference.com, manager Jim Leyland used 126 different batting orders this year, not including pitchers during Interleague Play. The most common order was used just seven times. That’s actually more stable than last year, when Detroit used 131 different orders, none more than five times. But it’s still more lineups than in 2007 or 2006. The Tigers used 107 orders in ’07, one of them 25 times.

Guillen said it’s difficult for an offense to be consistent when someone gets three hits one night and is sitting the next. Leyland countered that maybe some guys were productive precisely because they didn’t play day in and day out. He also indicated it was a shared responsibility for the organization for not getting it done, and that both he and GM Dave Dombrowski had accepted their blame.

By the way, Guillen confirmed Tuesday he had talked with Leyland on Monday, and that they basically reached an understanding about his situation. It isn’t exactly bliss, but it’s something he’s accepting now.

Leyland: Guillen must produce to play every day

After Carlos Guillen said Tuesday that he wants an everyday job again, manager Jim Leyland said answered publicly Saturday by saying that if Guillen wants to play every day, he needs to stay healthy and produce.

Leyland said he, too, liked the idea of the switch-hitting Guillen playing every day.

“That’s music to my ears,” Leyland told MLB.com. “But playing every day comes with production.”

Leyland traditionally would rather have his players discuss their issues with him privately rather than take them public. He has not talked with Guillen since season’s end.

Leyland stood by his comments from the final days of the season, when he said he made his late-inning outfield moves for defensive purposes. He also kept in mind concerns about his shoulder prior to the stretch run, notably in terms of throwing.

Game 163: Tigers at Twins

Though speculation was rampant whether Miguel Cabrera would play, he’s in the lineup in his usual spot. He actually looked pretty relaxed after talking with reporters real briefly once the clubhouse opened.

As Jim Leyland had suggested, he put Ryan Raburn in the starting lineup for this tiebreaker game, batting him sixth and starting him in left field. Carlos Guillen is still in the lineup, but he’s the DH. Aubrey Huff is a pinch-hitter for this one.

Though Raburn’s bat would’ve been tough to sit for this one, especially against a pitcher (Scott Baker) who gives up a higher average to right-handed hitters than left-handed ones. It’s his first start against a righty since August.

TIGERS

  1. Curtis Granderson, CF
  2. Placido Polanco, 2B
  3. Magglio Ordonez, RF
  4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  5. Carlos Guillen, DH
  6. Ryan Raburn, LF
  7. Brandon Inge, 3B
  8. Gerald Laird, C
  9. Ramon Santiago, SS

P: Rick Porcello

TWINS

  1. Denard Span, CF
  2. Orlando Cabrera, SS
  3. Joe Mauer, C
  4. Jason Kubel, RF
  5. Michael Cuddyer, 1B
  6. Delmon Young, LF
  7. Jose Morales, DH
  8. Matt Tolbert, 3B
  9. Nick Punto, 2B

P: Scott Baker

Sunday: Tigers vs. White Sox

Carlos Guillen will get the start against a left-handed pitcher that he has wanted for a while. He’s the DH today against White Sox southpaw John Danks, with Marcus Thames on the bench. Other than that, it’s the regular Tigers lineup against a lefty.

TIGERS

  1. Raburn, LF
  2. Polanco, 2B
  3. Ordonez, RF
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Guillen, DH
  6. Inge, 3B
  7. Granderson, CF
  8. Laird, C
  9. Everett, SS

P: Justin Verlander

WHITE SOX

  1. Scott Podsednik, DH
  2. Gordon Beckham, 3B
  3. Carlos Quentin, LF
  4. Jermaine Dye, RF
  5. Mark Kotsay, 1B
  6. Alex Rios, CF
  7. Alexei Ramirez, SS
  8. Ramon Castro, C
  9. Brent Lillibridge, 2B

P: John Danks

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