Results tagged ‘ Eddie Bonine ’
Three years after Chad Durbin went from Tigers swingman to finding a home in the Phillies bullpen, Eddie Bonine will try to do the same. The long reliever and occasional starter has agreed to a minor-league contract with a Spring Training invite, a source with knowledge of the negotiations told MLB.com.
Bonine became a free agent when the Tigers outrighted him last week, and interest built quickly, notably among National League teams. Detroit made a push within the last day or so to try to keep him, but they couldn’t match the Phillies offer in terms of money.
He’s the second reliever in as many days to leave the Tigers organization. The Astros signed Casey Fien to a minor-league deal yesterday.
Bonine went 4-1 with a 4.63 ERA in 47 appearances with the Tigers this year, his first full season in the big leagues. One of those appearances was a spot start; the rest were relief appearances. He struggled mightily down the stretch with a .395 opposing batting average and a 7.52 ERA, but there’s reason to believe in a rebound if he can improve his knuckleball and stay out of counts where he has to challenge hitters with his fastball. He’ll turn 30 next June.
As of now, Max St. Pierre is the lone Tiger among their minor-league free agents that Detroit has re-signed.
What this means for the long end of the Tigers bullpen isn’t yet clear, and probably won’t be until they get their rotation figured out. Brad Thomas is expected back, and there’s hope Zach Miner will be ready for the start of Spring Training after undergoing Tommy John surgery last May.
Brent Dlugach began the year as a potential Tigers infield prospect in the upper ranks of their farm system, and went into the season as somebody to watch after an impressive Spring Training. Now, he’s part of the Red Sox ranks, having been traded Thursday as part of the Tigers’ moves take four Minor League free agents off their 40-man roster.
Also removed from the roster were right-handers Eddie Bonine and Jay Sborz, catcher Max St. Pierre and outfielder Jeff Frazier. All of them were outrighted to Triple-A Toledo, making them eligible to become six-year minor league free agents. Bonine elected to become a free agent immediately, while the others will become free agents on Nov. 6.
Of the group, Bonine had by far the most time in the big leagues this year, having spent the entire season in Detroit’s bullpen. The 29-year-old knuckleballer went 4-1 with a 4.63 ERA in 47 appearances, all but one of them in relief.
Bonine went into the All-Star break with a 4-0 record and a 2.81 ERA before struggling down the stretch, allowing 22 earned runs on 47 hits over 26 1/3 innings. Opponents batted .395 against him after the break. He was inconsistent with his knuckleball, especially late in the season, and hitters began to simply sit on his fastball.
Dlugach was briefly seen as a potential shortstop option, but a slow start at Triple-A Toledo and a high strikeout total left him looking up at the big leagues. He batted .258 for the year with the Mud Hens with six home runs, 41 RBIs, 12 stolen bases and 149 strikeouts over 117 games.
The Red Sox will send over a player to be named later or cash as part of the trade.
St. Pierre finally made it to the big leagues after 14 years in the Minor Leagues, all but one of them in the Tigers organization. He’ll most likely have a spot back in the system if he wants it, but it remains to be seen what he wants to do.
Eddie Bonine said he’s fine if Jim Leyland says he knows what to expect from him. In fact, he’s kind of flattered. If he’s Mr. Reliable in the race for rotation spots, that’s cool with him. He hasn’t really been that kind of guy before.
He has been the overlooked guy before, but he has had a habit of defying expectations.
“It sounds like a compliment,” Bonine said of Leyland’s remarks after his two innings Friday against the Astros. “I think I’ve kind of been that kind of pitcher the last few years. Just being in that discussion as far as a guy that could possibly start for them, that’s where I want to be. There’s definitely a business side of it, but I know that when it comes to on the field, Dave [Dombrowski] and Jim [Leyland], they want to go out there and win ballgames. The rest of that stuff is going to take care of itself.”
Right now, Bonine is trying to take care of his pitches, The knuckleball, that unpredictable pitch that the Tigers like and want to see him throw, is the last pitch in the package, and it was the pitch that gave him some trouble Friday.
Bonine gave his three doubles in his two innings of work, and two of them came off knuckleballs that didn’t knuckle. It sounds like the pitch isn’t coming along, but it’s a pitch that he can only really hone in games. It isn’t a practice pitch for him.
“It’s one of those pitches that when I throw it, it’s full arm speed,” Bonine said. “It’s not just a different grip. It’s a different type of pitch. It seems like that’s the last pitch that comes for me, that good release point on that pitch. It’s definitely a feel pitch, and last year I got to the point where I could take some off it and kind of pitch off of it at different speeds. That’s one of those things that just comes from being out there and throwing it and getting a better feel for it. That’s where I’d like to be. I’m going to get back to that, how I finished last year as far as being able to add and subtract from that pitch. But it’s just a feel pitch.”
Once he gets that pitch down, you’re probably going to see more swings and misses from him. But it takes time, which is a tough situation for someone fighting for a roster spot. For now, once he got into trouble, he said he “had to go to work.” In other words, he had to get away from the knuckler for a little bit.
That goes back to the difference between Bonine and a knuckleballer like Tim Wakefield. Bonine throws a knuckleball — throws two, if you count the different speeds — but he isn’t a knuckleball pitcher. In other words, he doesn’t live and die on that pitch. He’ll throw not only fastballs, but a breaking ball that some confuse with the knuckler.
With all those variables, it’s new for him to be considered Mr. Reliable. But he’ll take it.
“I’m just still that guy who’s trying to get up there and continuing to prove myself,” Bonine said. “It’s a tremendous compliment, obviously, what Skip was saying, that he knows what he’s getting with me.”
It’s starting to sound more like a possibility now.
One of the questions that came up during the conference call announcing the Jose Valverde deal is how the rest of what was already shaping up to be a deep Tigers bullpen will slot with a closer now on board. If Zumaya’s healthy, Dave Dombrowski pointed out, he has a history as a setup man. Ryan Perry and Zach Miner slot in for the middle innings, and Dombrowski obviously likes the depth with their left-handers.
Which brought him to Coke.
“I think he’ll get the ball with a change to lengthen out in the spring,” Dombrowski said, “and get a chance to compete for the fifth spot.”
With that, another names enters the rotation competition with Armando Galarraga, Nate Robertson, Dontrelle Willis and Eddie Bonine. With the Tigers sounding increasingly confident that Jeremy Bonderman will take the fourth spot in the rotation, it’s looking like a handful of pitchers will compete for one rotation spot.
That should pretty much be the field, because the pitching staff looks pretty much set.
“If we did [make another signing], it would not be a pitcher,” Dombrowski said. “We feel very comfortable with our pitching right now. We have four starters who we think are set.”
The Tigers haven’t announced the final list of players for their upcoming winter caravan and TigerFest, but one lead-up event already has its slate set. The Mud Hens will hold their annual Fandemonium event, this time in conjunction with hockey’s Toledo Walleye, on Wednesday, Jan. 20 at the new Lucas County Arena in downtown Toledo.
Once again, Tigers manager and Perrysburg, Ohio native Jim Leyland is on the roster of guests. His third-base coach, Gene Lamont, is also on the list. All of the listed players were key contributors at some point in Toledo during the season and have a chance to make the big club in Detroit: second baseman Scott Sizemore, Eddie Bonine, Jeff Larish and Don Kelly. Mud Hens pitching coach A.J. Sager is also scheduled to take part.
This year’s event is again a buffet dinner format that will include a baseball or hockey celebrity at each table, a speech from Leyland, a Q&A session and a live auction. Dinner tickets cost $20 for adults and $15 for kids age 12 and under. For those who want to skip the dinner, there’s an $8 general admission ticket that includes Leyland’s speech, the Q&A session, live auction and Walleye player autographs.
Tickets are available at mudhens.com or by calling 419-725-HENS.
The Tigers have flipped their rotation for the start of the White Sox series this weekend. Eddie Bonine will start Friday's series opener opposite Freddy Garcia instead of Saturday. Robertson, who was scheduled to start Friday, will get an extra day's rest and start Saturday instead opposite Jake Peavy.
Do you know about the plan? Good, because the plan has changed.
Eddie Bonine will now start on Wednesday in place of Armando Galarraga, who was going to start in place of Nate Robertson. That rotation spot is now Bonine’s for the next three weeks. Barring more injuries — and that’s certainly possible — Galarraga and Robertson will pitch out of the bullpen.
Washburn is still starting.
It isn't quite written in ink yet, but Jarrod Washburn and Armando Galarraga appear set to go for the Tigers Tuesday and Wednesday against the Royals. Washburn, whose left knee continues to be a concern, said he's going. Galarraga is playing catch today to see how he feels. Bonine is the second option, and he said he hasn't been told anything about holding back in the bullpen or stretching out.
As pointed out earlier, the Tigers’ move to make room for Aubrey Huff on the 25-man roster was to go a man short in the bullpen, optioning reliever Eddie Bonine to Triple-A Toledo. That leaves the Tigers with six relievers and an 11-man pitching staff. In the past, Leyland has said he would rather to with 13 pitchers than 11.
The way Leyland made it sound, however, it probably won’t be a long-term move.
“We’ll play that by ear,” Leyland said. “This could be a day-to-day thing.”
It won’t be something that lingers past August, since the Tigers will have an expanded roster Sept. 1. But that probably isn’t what Leyland means. With Casey Fien, Freddy Dolsi and Clay Rapada still on the 40-man roster, plus Nate Robertson and Jeremy Bonderman on rehab assignments, Detroit has enough available pitchers to shuttle back and forth if need be whenever Leyland feels like he needs that extra arm.
Players who are optioned to the Minors must remain there for at least 10 days before being recalled to the big leagues, barring an injury replacement.
That said, Bonine didn’t pitch at all after coming up from Toledo last Friday, and Chris Lambert was barely pressed into action. So it’s not like the spot for the last reliever in the bullpen was that valuable recently.