Results tagged ‘ Max St. Pierre ’

Sizemore, Weinhardt among Tigers cuts

The latest round of Tigers cuts came this morning, and it included two pretty big surprises. Scott Sizemore and Robbie Weinhardt are headed to Triple-A Toledo, along with Clete Thomas. Fu-Te Ni and Max St. Pierre were assigned to minor league camp. The moves whittle Detroit’s roster to 28 players, with three more moves needing to be made by the time the Tigers break camp next Tuesday.

Until this past weekend, Sizemore seemed to be in a very good position to open the season at second base, though his batting average had dropped in recent days in .237 (9-for-37). Not only had he not started in the past three days, he had only one plate appearance in that stretch.
His return to Toledo for a third year as a Mud Hen came as Will Rhymes won the leaves Danny Worth and Will Rhymes as the two main contestants left in the battle for second base. Danny Worth remains in contention for an infield spot if the Tigers decide to keep another utilityman alongside Don Kelly and Ramon Santiago, rather than another extra outfielder.
Weinhardt, meanwhile, seemingly stood on solid ground to take one of the two or three openings in the bullpen as a right-handed ground ball specialist, having pitched in nine games this spring. But he also had three outings in which he gave up a run on two hits in an inning. His return to Toledo, and Brayan Villarreal’s standing in camp, makes Villarreal’s bid for a long relief look even better.
Villarreal and Enrique Gonzalez are the two right-handed pitchers left in camp without a roster spot assured. Lefty relief, meanwhile, appears to be down to Daniel Schlereth and Adam Wilk, with Brad Thomas looking all but set to break camp with the big club along with Jose Valverde, Joaquin Benoit and Ryan Perry. The Tigers could take both Schlereth and Wilk along with Villarreal and give themselves three lefties and another long man in their bullpen.
Ni made a good early impression in camp, looking physically stronger with better command. He allowed a run on four hits in 10 innings, but he also walked five, including two in one inning last Friday against the Red Sox.
Thomas’ camp was a victory of health, having shown no problems in his return from microfracture knee sugery. But he faced an uphill battle to try to win one of the two outfield spots left to be decided. Brennan Boesch, Andy Dirks and Casper Wells remain in contention for those jobs, with Wells’ position looking more secure as a right-handed hitter.
Both Boesch and Dirks bat left-handed, which put the left-handed hitting Thomas in a logjam of sorts. Thomas went 12-for-42 (.286) at the plate, but just two of his hits went for extra bases. 

Day 1 notes: Leyland targets Valverde for PFP

Remember Jim Leyland’s running challenge to Justin Verlander on PFP grounders in workouts last spring training? Leyland would crow whenever he got a ground ball past Verlander, who’s competitive enough that he wants to win at that. Kept waiting to see if they renewed the challenge Monday, the first day of spring workouts, but Leyland found a new target for his fun: Jose Valverde.

“I set you up, baby! And I can do it again if I want,” Leyland bragged when he got a tricky ground ball past his closer.

“Anytime I want. Just a little on, a little off,” he said after another one.

Valverde loved it. He had a good laugh whenever Leyland said it. And then he came up with some pretty impressive grabs for a Big Potato.

Leyland loved that, too.

“He’s a fun guy,” Leyland said of Valverde after the workout. “He’s really got one of the better personalities I’ve ever been around. And I guess when you’re that big and strong, it’s probably a good thing you’ve got a good personality.

“He’s legitimately fun to be around. I like him a lot.”

Leyland also likes the PFP drills a lot, because the way they set it up, pitchers see a good number of ground balls without a lot of standing around. They separate the pitchers into groups and split them onto the four back fields of the Tigertown complex, then rotate them around. Each field emphasizes a different area.

“I think it’s a good drill,” Leyland said. “And I will do it for as long as I manage.”

Other things worth noting on the first day of official workouts:

  • Leyland mentioned this as a key camp for Tigers pitching prospects Andy Oliver, Jacob Turner and Charlie Furbush, even though their chances of making the team out of camp are slim (Furbush might have a better chance as a potential lefty reliever). Barring injuries, they won’t be part of the starting five, but they stand as the Tigers’ best options for insurance starters if somebody gets hurt, either here or during the season. “We want these guys to start this process today to get themselves prepared to get as close as they can,” Leyland said. “And if something does come up, maybe somebody is ready by the camp.”
  • For someone with such a key role on this team, Austin Jackson had possibly the quietest entrance of any potential star player this spring, which probably says a lot about how much he has learned in his second year. He showed up Monday morning after the clubhouse had emptied and pitchers and catchers had taken the field, then got in his work.
  • Among the arrivals Monday was Max St. Pierre, who reported to camp noticeably lighter. That wasn’t by design. He said he had two bouts of stomach virus and the flu, the combination of which dropped 15 pounds off his frame. He’s fine now, but he wants to regain some of that weight before the season starts.
  • Speaking of weight loss, Joel Zumaya said he’s down to 230 pounds, but wants to put on some weight before the season starts. “I want to be at the 240 range,” he said. “I’m at 230-231. But that’s just getting muscle and eating a little more. … If I can stay between 235 and 240, I think I’m good.”
  • In case you were wondering, Don Kelly was not among the catchers who took their place for bullpen sessions Monday morning. He was working with the other position players. That’s fine, because Leyland said a month ago that Kelly didn’t have to report with the catchers. Kelly was here early by his own choice.
  • Remember the ill-fated mohawk idea that went through the Tigers clubhouse last year? Detroit’s bullpen might have a replacement for it. Because right now, there are a lot of beards among the relievers, and not many plans to shave them anytime soon. Zumaya has pretty much a full beard and says he’s keeping it when the season starts. Schlereth has a beard fit for his native Alaska. Ryan Perry has a bit of one going. If it catches on, it’ll be a little cleaner looking than the mohawk one.

Tigers trade Dlugach, outright Bonine, three others

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.

Inge, Santiago happy for St. Pierre

Brandon Inge has been in the Tigers system since Detroit drafted him in 1998. Ramon Santiago signed that summer and made his way to the states the next year. The only player still in the system who predates them is Max St. Pierre, who was a teammate of Santiago in the Tigers farm system and went to Spring Training alongside Inge just about every year.

So when they found out Tuesday night that St. Pierre had been recalled, it was big news for them.
“That’s awesome of the organization right there,” Inge said. “It’s really cool when you reward a guy who has worked his tail off for that many years. Just for his determination, his persistence, just to tough it out, I’m very pleased for him to get up here and get a little piece of the pie and for the organization for sticking with a guy like that and giving him a reward.
“That’s a great story. I’m so happy.”
Inge said he was proud of the organization as well as the player for sticking it out with each other, including a reunion a few years ago after St. Pierre left for a season to try to see if he could make it elsewhere.
“It’s an amazing story. He’s been playing for a long time,” Santiago said. “He played most every day with me when I was down in the minor leagues. I’m really happy for him.”
For what it’s worth, when Tigers president/general manager confirmed the news Tuesday night, he mentioned that they had come close to calling him up a couple different times in recent years. The circumstances, he said, just never worked out.

St. Pierre finally gets call to big leagues

Max St. Pierre is finally coming to the big leagues. He won’t be the most glamorous September call-up, but he might well be the happiest.

After 978 games over 14 minor league seasons, the longtime Tigers farmhand will join the big club as an extra catcher when rosters expand on Wednesday. The club hadn’t announced the move as of game time Tuesday night, but St. Pierre confirmed to the Toledo Blade after the Mud Hens’ game earlier in the evening that he’ll be joining the club in Minnesota.

For the Tigers, the move gives them a third catcher, something they could’ve used in recent days with Gerald Laird out with a back strain. Laird said Tuesday evening he hoped to be back for Wednesday, but that didn’t diminish the need for insurance.

For St. Pierre, the move is a dream finally fulfilled not only after years of trying, but years of questioning whether it would ever happen. The French Canadian began his pro career as a 17-year-old in 1997, and with the exception of one year in the Brewers organization and a brief stint as a pitcher, has been in the Tigers system ever since. He has made no secret that he kept going for a chance to get to the Majors.

He has been a regular with the Tigers in Spring Training, but has never spent a day on the Major League roster. That is set to change. He’ll have to be added to the 40-man roster in order to be eligible, but the Tigers have an opening there.

St. Pierre batted .274 with 10 home runs and 36 RBIs between Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo, where he has bounced back and forth for the last three seasons. He has been with the Mud Hens for parts of five years.

Few Tigers delayed to camp (Damon not included)

The good news for the Tigers on reporting day is that they don’t have another Francisco Cruceta situation on their hands. You remember him from 2008, right? He was the reliever who was stuck in the Dominican all spring with visa problems after he was supposed to be a big solution to the Tigers’ bullpen depth. Instead, Denny Bautista opened the season as Detroit’s setup man.

The bad news for the Tigers is that they have a few guys who are going to be a little late to camp:

  • Closer Jose Valverde is expected to get in on Saturday. He’s dealing with a personal situation, according to manager Jim Leyland.
  • Catcher Gerald Laird won’t be around until early next week, probably Tuesday. His sister is getting married this weekend.
  • Catcher Max St. Pierre is also expected to arrive Saturday. He and his wife are expecting their first child, if she hasn’t already given birth.

Other than that, I think all the pitchers and catchers are in. Leyland joked that he might have coach Gene Lamont don catching gear again if they need an extra body to catch bullpen sessions. Brandon Inge definitely won’t, not with his knees.

As for the Damon thing, I can confirm that there’s an open locker in the corner of the Tigers clubhouse, right in front of Leyland’s office. It belonged to Casper Wells last year, but he’s been moved over to the other side. Still, that doesn’t mean Damon’s going to fill it. Considering it sits next to Cabrera, it could also go to Andres Galarraga. Really, if I were going to put Galarraga in the clubhouse somewhere, that’s where I’d put him.

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