Results tagged ‘ Jacob Turner ’

Thoughts on Tigers trading Jacob Turner

A year ago at this point, the Tigers considered Jacob Turner just about untouchable.

Six months ago, the Tigers wouldn’t have traded Turner straight-up for Matt Garza, let alone in a package for Garza, as one talent evaluator famously said.

Tonight’s lesson: A half-season can change perceptions. A lot. It’s not the high regard for Turner around baseball that changed (OK, it changed a little, but he’s still highly regarded) so much as the Tigers’ situation to deal him.

When the Tigers refused to offer up Turner to the Cubs last winter, they considered him a potential front-runner for the fifth starter’s job. The competition in Spring Training was his to win, though Drew Smyly was a darkhorse candidate.

You know the rest. By the middle of camp, Turner was shelved with shoulder tendinitis, and Smyly was pitching his way into a job in Detroit. By mid-May, Smyly was looking like the most promising young pitcher the Tigers had. And the Tigers could at least envision their rotation without Turner down the road.

Does that justify trading Turner in a package for soon-to-be-free-agent starter Anibal Sanchez and second baseman Omar Infante? Not necessarily. But it justifies the Tigers changing their stance on listening to offers on Turner.

The thing to consider is the rotation as a whole. Justin Verlander is under contract through 2014, which is also the same amount of time Max Scherzer has before he’s eligible for free agency. Doug Fister and Rick Porcello aren’t eligible for free agency until 2015. Yes, Turner takes a future starter — potentially a front-line one — out of the system, but health permitting, the Tigers might not have a pressing need for one for a while. Even if Sanchez bolts as a free agent this winter, Smyly could simply slot back in.

It won’t be cheap to keep that rotation together. Traditionally, the time to talk contract with top starters is two years out from free agency, not one, so this winter might be the time for the Tigers to talk with Verlander and his agent to feel out the chances for a contract extension. Porcello and Scherzer are both going to become increasingly expensive through arbitration, and Fister’s eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter.

Smyly, though, gives them one good young arm. Dombrowski also pointed to Casey Crosby, whose future as a starter or reliever might have just been answered.

“We do feel we have a couple of young starters who are there in Smyly and Casey Crosby, so we do have a little bit of depth in that area,” team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said on Monday night’s conference call.

Andy Oliver is also still at Toledo, though it’s hard to say if he’ll ever put things together to be considered a big-league starter again.

Depending on how next summer’s draft unfolds, too, the draft pick the Tigers acquired from Florida at the end of the first round could turn into another starting prospect.

Does that justify making this deal? Not necessarily. But if Monday’s reports about the Ryan Dempster trade are true, that the Cubs would get Braves pitching prospect Randall Delgado in return, then the price tag for pitching on the market just went up.

If the Tigers had gone back to the Cubs and packaged Turner with a prospect (say, Brantly) for Matt Garza, they might have pulled it off. But they still would’ve needed a second baseman, and they would’ve had less to offer. They would’ve had Garza for an extra year, but they wouldn’t have had a second baseman.

As for Brantly, Dombrowski said, “We’ve still got a young starting catcher in Alex Avila. You aren’t going to have both of them in the organization at some point, because you usually aren’t going to have two left-handed hitting catchers at the Major League level.”

The Tigers’ depth at catcher in their system helps. The fact that Brantly was regarded as the best of the bunch, far and away better offensively, doesn’t.

Ultimately, what Sanchez does down the stretch — the fact that he has never pitched in the American League makes this part interesting — will go a long way towards determining whether this trade was worth it. How Turner does in the coming years will determine the rest. In the end, though, you can at least see the Tigers rotation without Turner a little easier than you could six months ago.

Does that mean Nick Castellanos could be expendable soon? Hard to see that happening, unless the Tigers suddenly shore up their outfield for years to come. That’s one factor. The fact that owner Mike Ilitch loves star players, and Castellanos has both the game and the personality to become a star, is another.

Tigers option Turner, send out five others

The Tigers optioned top prospect Jacob Turner to Triple-A Toledo Monday morning as part of a half-dozen roster cuts from camp, whittling their Spring Training roster to 32 players.

Outfielder Quentin Berry, who had made an impression with his speed and defense as a non-roster invite, was sent to minor-league camp along with right-hander Chris Bootcheck, first baseman Ryan Strieby and infielders Audy Ciriaco and Argenis Diaz.

Turner’s move came exactly five weeks after he came into camp as arguably the favorite to win the open spot in a stacked Tigers rotation. He made three starts for the Tigers last season and arguably had some of the best pure stuff of any arm here, including those on the roster. But he struggled with command in early games before being sidelined with tendinitis in his right shoulder.

If the early struggles didn’t doom his chances at the Opening Day roster, the time lost to injury did. Though he’s just about ready to pitch in games again, nearly two weeks after his last pitches against hitters, that return outing will have to take place across the street at the Tigertown minor-league complex.

Turner made three starts last August for the Mud Hens after making his Major League debut July 30 in Detroit. He could be the front man for what projects to be a formidable Hens rotation once the Tigers find their fifth starter and farm out the other candidates.

Berry joined the organization over the winter on a minor-league contract as a 27-year-old speedster with just four games above Double-A, but stuck around a lot longer than expected. By the end, he showed just enough to make

Manager Jim Leyland, for his part, strongly hinted that he would have felt comfortable with Berry as the last position player on his roster, saying there were four or five he felt comfortable with. But while that was a big boost for Berry, he wasn’t going to nudge through the battle between Andy Dirks and Clete Thomas, both of whom have spent time in the big leagues.

Berry batted 9-for-27 this spring. He hit a grand slam Friday against the Pirates, accounting for four of his seven RBIs on the spring. He also made two highlight catches Sunday against the Yankees, one of them an outstretched diving catch to send the game into extra innings.

Berry could end up joining the others at Triple-A Toledo, where Diaz and Strieby spent all of last season and Ciriaco spent 14 games. Bootcheck seems like a candidate to serve as the Hens closer, having filled the role at Triple-A Indianapolis in the Pirates organization three years ago.

Day 6: Turner, Smyly … Who’s more polished?

Jacob Turner and Drew Smyly have a budding rivalry going … in Tiger Woods Golf.

They’re not roommates here at spring training, but along with Casey Crosby, they’re hanging out and playing video games, much like Rick Porcello and Ryan Perry were doing a few years ago. Their trash talk carries over into the Tigers locker room, where Turner was razzing Smyly while he was being interviewed.

Turner has taken his fair share of rookie abuse for the past two spring trainings here, so he has finally earned the chance to dish it out. And yet Smyly, in his first spring training with the big club in just his second professional season, is nearly two years older than Turner.

The way they interact back up Jim Leyland’s feeling that this isn’t a competition for the fifth spot in the rotation. Nonetheless, they’re two talented pitching prospects who could break camp in the rotation, though they can’t both do it. And they come from vastly different routes to this point.

Turner just began his third season as a professional pitcher. He has started all three years in Major League camp with the Tigers after Detroit drafted him in the first round in 2009 (in fact, if you don’t count the compensation round, he’s the last Tigers first-round pick). He has logged more spring training time with the Tigers than any other starting candidate in this camp, and he has more Major League and minor league starts than Justin Verlander did before he cracked the Tigers rotation in 2006.

At age 20, he can face big-league hitters in workouts and not look overwhelmed at all. He sounds like somebody who has been through this before, even though he has only watched it.

“I think this one might be more exciting for me,” Turner said, “just because this is my third year and I’m more comfortable being around everything and I know what to expect, what’s going on. I’m definitely really excited for this spring, and we’ll see what happens.”

Smyly, as mentioned, is beginning his second pro season and his first big-league camp. When Turner was going through his first camp two years ago, Smyly was going through the SEC at the University of Arkansas. When Turner was on standby here as a possible postseason injury replacement if Detroit needed a starter, Smyly was pitching for Team USA in the Pan Am Games in Mexico.

“Now, I’m in the same big league camp as Justin Verlander and Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera,” Smyly said.

He isn’t a prototypical hard-throwing Tigers pick, but his polish by all accounts last year was impressive for somebody just beginning his career. He put that on display for Tigers coaches when he faced hitters for the first time, and they left impressed.

Smyly brought more experience into this camp than Turner did into his first one. Turner, however, brought more pro experience. Their experiences, so far, have been parallel. When the Tigers called up Turner from Double-A Erie for his Major League debut July 30, Smyly replaced him in Erie’s rotation that night, having been called up a few days earlier.

Bottom line, neither of them are here just for show, or just for experience. Either of these guys could break camp.

Someone check on Wilson Betemit: They’re actually separate items, but they add up to a brutal day for former Tigers. Joel Zumaya ended a live throwing session early at Twins camp on Saturday after reportedly feeling something in his elbow. Later, Scott Sizemore reportedly sprained his knee during infield drills at A’s camp. Meanwhile, Carlos Guillen has missed the last two days of Mariners workouts with calf tightness, according to Larry Stone of the Seattle Times. The M’s reportedly don’t believe it’s anything serious.

Actual workout item of the day: Both Turner and Smyly pitched against live hitters Saturday, and neither looked like green prospects. Turner went time and again to the outside corner with breaking pitches, trying to show he can spot it for a strike. Hitters made contact against him, but most of it on the ground. Smyly mixed pitches deceptively and got swings and misses from a group of hitters that included Gerald Laird, Audy Ciriaco and Jerad Head.

Actual workout item of the day, part 2: Daniel Schlereth came into camp looking to improve his fastball command, and Saturday was a start. Schlereth wasn’t completely pleased with it, but he was pretty upbeat, and he had coaches watching. He said he’s also throwing a slightly different slider with a little different movement.

Non-workout item of the day: Leyland stated the obvious on Saturday, that they haven’t decided anything on the open rotation spot and that they don’t have any favorites.

“We’re putting them all out there and we’re going to make a decision,” Leyland said. “We haven’t done that yet. We haven’t even played games. Nobody has a leg up on anybody.”

Quote of the day: “All-Northern Lakes League doesn’t usually send you to Canton.” — Leyland on his football career

Dombrowski rules out Oswalt, rules in Smyly

You might have read on the blog yesterday the quote from Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski saying they’re only likely to go for a non-roster invite if they do add a pitcher to compete for the open rotation. He pretty much repeated that Friday to MLB Network Radio, ruling themselves out of the Roy Oswalt hunt.

“I don’t think we’ll get Roy Oswalt, no,” Dombrowski told host Jim Bowden. “I don’t think that’s a potential. But I do think that we have other guys internally, guys that don’t get much attention at this point, but guys that could fill a fifth starter spot.”

That wasn’t really a surprise, since reportedly Oswalt spurned any interest from the Tigers earlier. CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman reported late Friday night that the Tigers offered Oswalt a one-year, $10 million contract well before they moved aggressively to sign Prince Fielder. Oswalt rejected the offer, even though it supposedly met the agent’s asking price.

Dombrowski again sounded like someone leaning towards letting his organizational products compete for the fifth spot. He gave an extra plug, however, to left-hander Drew Smyly, who won Tigers minor league pitcher of the year honors in his first pro season.

“He was a second-round pick for us a couple years ago,” Dombrowski said, “and a lot of people think that he’s ready to pitch here right now. We’ll see. He pitched very well last year, and also pitched well internationally this wintertime [at the Pan Am Games]. He was the top pitcher on the team there.”

Dombrowski also mentioned Adam Wilk and Duane Below as options if Jacob Turner doesn’t get the job, which was the question Bowden asked.

“Those are the possibilities,” Dombrowski said, “and I also wouldn’t discount signing someone that is a non-roster invitee and bringing him to camp and seeing if they can challenge for it.

What’s left? Pitching invites, maybe Cespedes?

Here’s the deal: Whatever follows this first paragraph, take it with a grain of salt. As we saw on the Prince Fielder thing, plans change around these parts.

That said, the Tigers don’t sound like they have another major move in store.

Positionally, team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said they’re pretty well set. Yes, there’s still some free agent DH/outfielder types, but if the Tigers added somebody there, they’d essentially be locking themselves into Miguel Cabrera as a third baseman before seeing how he handles the position in spring training.

But there’s a big-name hitter still out there who has been connected with Tigers interest since November. When Dombrowski was asked about Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, he crafted his response to allow some leeway should somebody above his pay grade decide he’s worth pursuing.

“I don’t want to say on that,” Dombrowski said. “Most likely [they're out], but you never can tell.”

Not lately, no.

Their outlook on pitching sounds a little more secure. Though the Tigers reportedly went after Roy Oswalt earlier, Dombrowski gave a pretty strong indication that they’re not looking for that kind of deal anymore. They’re still looking for veteran pitching, but Dombrowski is now downplaying expectations to the level of non-roster invitees. The 40-man roster is full, though they’ll open a spot by Opening Day by placing Victor Martinez on the 60-day disabled list.

Martinez, by the way, was scheduled to have a second opinion on his left knee Thursday afternoon from Dr. Richard Steadman. No news was available as of Thursday night, but the Tigers are expecting to hear he’ll need surgery for a torn ACL.

That would open up a roster spot for a non-roster pitcher who comes to camp. At this point, though, Dombrowski sounds more open than ever to having one of his young pitcher take the fifth starter job, especially if he’s going to get an uptick in run support.

“We’re having some conversations with a few guys,” Dombrowski said. “I don’t know if it’ll happen for not. But I don’t want it sound like we’re signing some guy to a long-term contract, or even in a position to be giving a big one-year deal. We’re talking more [to] bring a guy into camp, and if our youngsters don’t make it, then we can maybe lean on that guy to do it.”

The added run support the Tigers can expect from this offense gives them some leeway.

“You’re trying to win, and I think you can do that,” Dombrowski said. “But we have four veteran starters, a better offense. So it’s conducive to breaking that [young] guy in there if you can. At some point, you’re trying to break young guys in, because you want a guy or two to break in on a yearly basis somewhere. I know people write about payroll and I know we have a high payroll, but even the Yankees try to break young guys in, because you need to have somebody making lesser salaries. … It’s important, and I think it’s a good place to do it for us. But I don’t want to feed somebody to the wolves if they go to spring training and then they don’t look like they can handle it. That’s why you’re trying to protect yourself if you can.”

I said this on twitter earlier, but at this point, I would be surprised if one of the youngsters heading to camp — Duane Below, Jacob Turner, Adam Wilk, Andy Oliver or Drew Smyly — doesn’t win the open rotation spot. There’s more talent in that group than in the lower ranks of the free agency market right now. It’s the experience that’s lacking.

Tigers’ reactions to Prince Fielder signing

Justin Verlander told his followers on Twitter he was playing a bad round of golf when he got the call on Prince Fielder. His game didn’t get much better, but his day did.

“The Prince news turned my day around! Still played bad, but who cares,” Verlander tweeted. “Really excited about 2012, especially with the new addition.”

He wasn’t the only Tiger looking at the 2012 season with a little brighter outlook, once the sense of shock over Fielder’s signing tapered off.

“I had just got done working out, hitting, and a few of my friends texted me,” superutilityman Don Kelly said. “I seriously thought they were joking. I got online and checked it out and it was all over MLB.com and whatever.”

Austin Jackson, who’s now set to be leading off for a more formidable Tigers lineup, had the same reaction when his phone started going off while he was sitting at home. Shock gave way to mere amazement, then gave way to the thought of a lineup with two of the most formidable all-around hitters in baseball.

“It’s crazy to think about him and Cabrera hitting next to each other in the lineup,” Jackson said. ‘You do those type of things on MLB2K or something. You never really see two hitters like that get a chance to hit on the same team.

“It’s going to be a very interesting season. I think everybody’s pumped up to get going.”

The news that the Tigers had signed Fielder to a nine-year, $214 million contract sent shock waves around baseball, but it sent excitement around Detroit. Tigers players were no different. Some likely realized it was a possibility, but most didn’t know at all.

“No,” Kelly said. “I mean, everybody was under the impression that it wasn’t a real good fit from what Prince was looking for and what the Tigers were looking to do. But obviously, it ended up [working out].”

Jackson compared it to a holiday gift.

“To be honest with you, I thought it was a long shot,” he said. “I think myself and a lot of other people were probably putting it on a wish list. You think about things like that. You think about what a guy like him could contribute to this team, but you always think those things are long shots. When it actually happened, it was like, ‘All right, I can see this team is really serious about moving in the right direction.”

Miguel Cabrera, the man Fielder is expected to move out from first base, had an idea it was a possibility. He told Venezuelan reporter Marfa Mata that the Tigers had approached him during last week’s winter caravan to let him know it was a possibility and to see how he felt about it, including the possibility of changing positions.

Not only was Cabrera on board, he was excited.

“Some people forget that this is my [old] position, third base,” Mata quotes Cabrera, translated through Google. “I want a better team.”

So do most of the Tigers, even those whose roles might be impacted. Kelly was looking at a potential platoon role at third base going into the season, the kind of set role he hasn’t had in the big leagues. If Cabrera moves to third, there’s a good chance that changes.

That wasn’t among Kelly’s chief concerns Tuesday night.

“Looking at it, when you have a team and you can add a guy like Prince Fielder to that team, your team’s obviously going to be better,” he said.

Even Tigers who haven’t made it to Detroit yet were looking forward to the possibility. Top pitching prospect Jacob Turner was heading into the season looking to compete for the fifth spot in the Tigers rotation. His run support picture now looks much different. He retweeted the news almost as soon as it hit Twitter.

Fellow Tigers pitching prospect Drew Smyly, who’s expected to compete for the same rotation spot, learned about his new teammate soon afterwards.

“That’s one hell of an offense,” he tweeted.

Nothing going on with Tigers on Garza

Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski told the Detroit News “nothing has changed” in regards to his remarks from last week on the Tigers’ approach to starting pitching and their prospects, despite recent rumors. Another source told MLB.com Tuesday that there’s nothing going on with the Tigers in regards to Cubs right-hander Matt Garza.

MLB Network and MLB.com’s Peter Gammons had similar sentiments Tuesday night on Hot Stove.

“I’m told it’s not going to happen,” Gammons said of a potential Garza deal to Detroit. “I mean, the Cubs are interested in talking with the Tigers. I’m told the Tigers have said, ‘We’re not going to do it.'”

Former Reds and Nationals general manager Jim Bowden, now a host on MLB Network Radio, suggested on ESPN.com that the Tigers could get a deal done for Garza if they included top positional prospect Nick Castellanos with Turner, their top pitching prospect. The Tigers were not willing to include them both in a package to the A’s for Gio Gonzalez, on whom they had serious discussions and seemingly valued more.

“Now, they won’t even do Turner for Garza,” Gammons continued. “In fact, the Tigers staff is saying to the front office, you know what, we can open the season with Turner as the fifth starter and see what happens.”

Gonzalez, whom Oakland traded to Washington last month, is four years away from free agency, as well as left-handed. Garza, a right-hander, has just two years left before he can hit the open market. Detroit’s rotation currently has four right-handers: Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello.

Dombrowski: Ordonez, Guillen likely gone, iffy on Santiago

Lot of updates from president/GM Dave Dombrowski today in his talk with reporters. More in-depth stuff coming, but here’s the rundown …

  • Dombrowski said there won’t be a “real strong push” to bring a lot of their free agents back. Most likely, he said, Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen are done as Tigers. “I would say in their case it’s highly unlikely they’re going to be back. In both cases,” said Dombrowski, who said he let both of them know that in the last month of the season.
  • Brad Penny also won’t be back. “With the young pitching we have coming, I would doubt we would re-sign him,” Dombrowski said.
  • Dombrowski wasn’t completely clear on the fifth starter situation. Ideally, he said, they’ll have a veteran as “protection” in case Jacob Turner or one of their other young guys aren’t ready. At another point, though, he said that if they sign a veteran for the job, Turner would start the season at Triple-A Toledo.
  • Here’s the main quote on the rotation: “The most likely scenario would be that those young guys come to camp with the four guys that are set and  compete for the fifth spot, and we have protection of a veteran type pitcher that can fill that if they’re not ready. But I also would say that, hey, if there’s some great starting pitcher that we really liked and was available for us, and we thought it was the type of move that made the most sense to get us better, would we be open to it? Yes. We like them all. We like every one of those pitchers. But can I tell you 100 percent that they’re ready? No. Now, can they be ready? Yes.”
  • Ramon Santiago is basically in a bad situation, at least as far as returning to Detroit goes. There’s mutual interest,  but Santiago wants a more regular role, and the Tigers don’t see him that way. “I think our feeling has been that we just don’t see him as the guy going out there and playing – we may be wrong – 150 games a year,” Dombrowski said. “We just don’t happen to see him as that guy, and we may be wrong. He’s done a very fine job for us and we like him a lot, but that’s not the role we see him in. If we thought he was our everyday second baseman, we’d go out and we’d make that move.”
  • This quote from Dombrowski on the market for free agents at second and third base is pretty telling: “I don’t think they’re real strong. And that’s why, too, not only free agents, you’d also have to talk about the possibility of trades, too.”
  • His evaluation on how slow this market will move compared with the way they took care of business quickly last year was also telling: “I don’t think we’re going to be rushing out like we did last year. We’re in a different situation than we were last year, where we identified a couple guys right off the bat in [Victor] Martinez and [Joaquin] Benoit. We’re still prepared; I don’t mean to say that we couldn’t make a move if the right move came about. But I wouldn’t think we would make a real quick move. I think we’ll take more time to go through it and let it work itself out.”
  • The Tigers are open to re-signing Joel Zumaya, but it would have to be a minor-league contract with a Spring Training invite. At this point, it sounds like the Tigers expect Zumaya to wait and see if another team offers him a Major League deal. “He’d like to come back, and we would like to have him back,” Dombrowski said.
  • While Dombrowski didn’t anoint Delmon Young as the starting left fielder, he said he looks at his outfield being Young alongside Austin Jackson and Brennan Boesch. But he left open the possibility they could try to upgrade in left, and he acknowledged they have time before they have to decide whether to tender a contract to the arbitration-eligible Young.
  • Tigers will look at both free agents and trades to upgrade at second. They will look at possibilities at third as well. That said, Dombrowski left open the possibility they upgrade at one spot and platoon at the other. They could also go with grinders there. “You can never have enough good players,” Dombrowski said, “but you don’t want all star players. You want some of those gritty role-type players. Jim likes those on his club and is very successful at fitting them into his club.”
  • Dombrowski confirmed that the Tigers will look for a backup hitting catcher, preferably a right-handed hitter, to back up Alex Avila. The challenge, Dombrowski acknowledged, is convincing a good catcher to sign with a team where he isn’t likely to play very often. Even with a drop in playing time, Dombrowski said Avila could catch 120-125 games next year. He is an All-Star, after all.
  • The Tigers are open to possibly beefing up their bullpen with one more veteran, Dombrowski said, but he probably wouldn’t be a seventh- or eighth-inning setup guy. They like the core they have with Jose Valverde, Joaquin Benoit, Phil Coke, Al Alburquerque and Daniel Schlereth.
  • No chance of Phil Coke returning to the rotation.
  • Dombrowski basically threw down the challenge to Ryan Perry. ” He’s at the point where he needs to step it up for us,” Dombrowski said.
  • The door is open for the Tigers to add a leadoff hitter, but that isn’t a sure thing. “We need to get better offensive production out of Austin [Jackson],” Dombrowski said. “We think he’s capable of doing that. Will he be our leadoff hitter next season? We really can’t answer that question.”
  •  Chances of the Tigers shifting Jhonny Peralta to third base and pursuing Jose Reyes or Jimmy Rollins? Not likely. Peralta is sounding very likely to stick at short. “I would think so,” Dombrowski said. “Would I say 100 percent? No. Would I say most likely? Yes.”
  • Another factor seemingly working against a Reyes pursuit: The Tigers have their quota of $20 million players for the foreseeable future. “I would think so,” Dombrowski said.
  • The entire coaching staff will be back for next season, Dombrowski announced, unless somebody gets hired for a managerial job elsewhere. Dombrowski said he has not received any calls so far asking permission to talk with McClendon for such a job, but he would have no problem granting permission.

Postseason roster, rotation getting a few hints

Jim Leyland isn’t close to determining his postseason roster or rotation, he said Tuesday. But he laid a few hints towards the formation of it.

  • Jacob Turner will start Thursday’s series opener against Baltimore. Doug Fister will be pushed up tomorrow night to piggyback Max Scherzer’s start here in Kansas City. Leyland didn’t explain it, but he didn’t have to: Five days from Wednesday is next Monday, and five days from that is Saturday, the date for Game 2 of the AL Division Series. By moving up Fister, Leyland gives himself the option of starting Fister in Game 2 on regular rest.
  • Leyland said he’s “95 percent sure we will have an extra player, because we will have 11 pitchers.” The Tigers need just four starters for the postseason, not five. That spot that would normally go to a starter can go to either a reliever or a position player. Leyland all but confirmed it’s a position player.
  • Leyland said he doesn’t think Victor Martinez will catch a game again this regular season. Combine this bullet point with the one above, and Omir Santos’ chances of making the postseason roster as a backup catcher look better than they did last week.
  • No idea yet whether Carlos Guillen will be ready for the postseason. Guillen said today he’s feeling a little better, but it’s still very sore, and he still can’t so much as hit. He’s believed to be another candidate for that final spot, but Leyland confirmed that if Guillen can’t play in a regular season game the rest of the way, he won’t be on the Division Series roster.
  • Al Alburquerque is slated to pitch in relief tonight. If that goes all right, he should be good to go for the playoffs.
  • Leyland confirmed what he had already strongly suggested: Justin Verlander will be set up to pitch Game 1 and Game 5 in the Division Series.

First round of September call-ups arrives

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.
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