Results tagged ‘ Phil Coke ’
Too many ins and outs to sum up in a paragraph or two, so here’s your rundown of who is and isn’t available for the Tigers today:
- Johnny Damon is out of the lineup again today, but he said this morning that his back is getting better. He was going to try some swings in the cage this morning to see if he can play today.
- Turns out Danny Worth also is ailing. He has a heel that he injured stepping hard on the bag trying to beat out a hit Friday night. He was not available Saturday, manager Jim Leyland revealed, meaning that the only player the Tigers had available on the bench was catcher Alex Avila. “If one of the infielders got hurt,” Leyland said, “I was screwed.” Worth said he can play today if needed.
- Ryan Raburn was back in the clubhouse Sunday after spending Saturday back in Florida for his grandfather’s funeral. He’s starting in left field.
- The bullpen today is without Jose Valverde, Phil Coke and Ryan Perry. They do not have Bonderman available in relief anymore, not with his start coming up Tuesday. Everybody else is available. Not only do none of the four available relievers have any saves this year, they don’t have any saves in their Major League careers. I have no idea what they’ll do in a save situation, so don’t ask me.
- Jackson, CF
- Rhymes, 2B
- Raburn, LF
- Cabrera, 1B
- Boesch, RF
- Peralta, 3B
- Frazier, DH
- Avila, C
- Santiago, SS
- Marco Scutaro, SS
- J.D. Drew, RF
- Kevin Youkilis, 1B
- David Ortiz, DH
- Victor Martinez, C
- Adrian Beltre, 3B
- Ryan Kalish, LF
- Jed Lowrie, 2B
- Eric Patterson, CF
Still no answers on who will fill out the final two spots in the Tigers rotation, but it’s looking slightly clearer on who won’t. Manager Jim Leyland said today it’s 99.8 percent certain (his percentage, not mine) that Phil Coke will open the season in the bullpen. It’s nearing the point where if Coke was going to start, or at least be seriously considered for it, he would have to start being stretched out in his pitch count. Instead, Coke threw only one inning today against the Yankees.
With eight or nine potential starting pitchers and a slew of relievers, speculation has percolated on what the Tigers might be able to do on the trade front by the end of Spring Training. Teams always need pitching, and the Tigers could use some offensive help, right?
Right, but there’s another statement that Leyland likes.
“The old adage that you can never have enough pitching will always hold true,” Leyland said Saturday morning.
“We don’t have too much pitching. I like what we’ve got. I’m really happy with what we’ve got. But the old adage still applies.”
That doesn’t mean that Leyland is against any trades. That’s Dave Dombrowski’s department. But clearly, Leyland likes to have as much pitching as he possibly can.
Leyland cited another phrase of his.
“There’s no such thing as a 12th pitcher for me,” he said. “If you’re going to be good, every pitcher is important.”
As evidence, he cited 2006, when Jason Grilli made some key appearances for them, and Zach Miner proved vital as a fill-in starter for Mike Maroth over the summer.
As far as the lefty relief corps, Leyland didn’t argue the point that they can probably only take three southpaws in the bullpen. But he did point out that Phil Coke and Bobby Seay both have a history of effectiveness against right-handed hitters.
More tidbits from Saturday morning:
- Jose Valverde arrived at camp today and is working out, so all pitchers have reported. Max St. Pierre also reported, leaving Gerald Laird as the lone catcher not in camp yet.
- Magglio Ordonez quietly came in today, quickly grabbed a bat and headed for the cages. He’s ready to go. Miguel Cabrera and Carlos Guillen aren’t here yet, but should be in the next few days.
- On the top of relief pitching, Leyland mentioned a note he received following last year’s tiebreaker loss. “I got a letter from a lady chewing me out for not bringing in Verlander in relief,” he said. That wasn’t going to happen.
- Leyland said he’ll use Valverde similar to how he used Fernando Rodney, bringing him in just for one-inning saves unless it’s an emergency situation, extra innings or he needs work to stay fresh.
Don’t expect Phil Coke to go for a round of golf with Johnny Damon, but as a teammate with the Yankees last year, he’s a believer in the buzz about what he brings to the club.
“You have to understand something: When you have an opportunity to play on a championship team, there are a bunch of players around the league that have come together on one team whose careers speak for themselves,” Coke said. “I don’t know what your personal opinion is of Johnny, and your opinion might not match mine because you don’t know him like I do. I mean, I love Johnny. He’s an amazing person, on and off the field. It doesn’t matter where he’s at. He’s the same guy. He’s a great clubhouse guy. He’s a great dude to go hang out with, on and off the field. He’s an all-around good guy.”
Coke understands the limitations on Damon, but he also understands what’s at the heart of him.
“He still moves really good,” Coke said. “He has his struggles in the outfield, but that’s because he sacrificed himself year after year for the game. I can’t tell you I’d want anybody else in the clubhouse except for a guy like that. I’ve been told that growing up in the game of baseball — Little League, high school, junior college, guys that are willing to sacrifice themselves for the game, for the team, those are the guys you want to play with. They don’t necessarily have to be the best, but they’re going to give you everything they’ve got, every single day.”
So would he be a recruiter for the Tigers?
“I wish I had his number,” Coke said, “because I’d be like, ‘Hey, man, quit messing around.”
Don’t discount the possibility that Phil Coke still opens the season in the Tigers rotation, despite what seemed like mixed signals on that notion last month.
You might remember that though team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski labeled Coke as a starting candidate at TigerFest, Leyland indicated he preferred to have Coke work out of the bullpen to begin Spring Training and then stretch out as a starter later if necessary.
Part of the reasoning there was that the Tigers already have three candidates for the fifth spot, and they can only stretch out so many pitchers as starters in a normal Spring Training schedule. They could already have to shift some starters to Minor League games on occasion simply to get innings.
On Wednesday, though, Leyland said he’s been “tossing and turning on what to do with Coke.”
Part of the reason is the potential need for a lefty starter if
neither Nate Robertson nor Dontrelle Willis win the job. Another reason
is the abundance of lefty relievers not named Phil Coke, such as Bobby
Seay, Fu-Te Ni, Brad Thomas and Daniel Schlereth.
For now, Leyland said, he’s going to “let that [question] hang for a while.”
In other words, he’s going to start out Coke in the bullpen, but leave open the possibility of stretching him out later in camp if need be. But he won’t make that decision until after the Spring Training games begin.
He’ll discuss the timing with pitching coach Rick Knapp.
“You’ve got to make sure it’s not too soon,” Leyland said, “but you’ve got to make sure it’s not too late.”
What does Coke think? Well, until he hears otherwise, he’s going to prepare as a starter.”
“The title doesn’t mean anything to me,” Coke said Wednesday. “They told me there’s an opportunity that I could start, so until they change my mind, that’s what I’m going to do.”
We might find out more about that from Leyland in the coming days.
I know it was a pretty big story when Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said Tuesday that lefty Phil Coke would be stretched out and potentially viewed as a contestant for the fifth starter’s spot. But manager Jim Leyland indicated he still sees Coke’s future in relief.
“Personally, I’m looking at him more as a bullpen guy,” Leyland said. “I think we’re going to have enough issues when you talk about Galarraga bouncing back and Bonderman bouncing back and Nate Robertson bouncing back and Dontrelle Willis bouncing back. There’s only so many innings.
“Am I ruling it out? No, I’m not. But you can only give so many innings to so many guys in Spring Training, and the one thing you want to make sure is that you’re getting the guys ready that you know need to be ready.”
That said, he has quite a few relievers, too. And now that he has Jose Valverde at the end of it, he thinks the rest of the bullpen is going to fall into place.
He did not hide his happiness for the Valverde deal.
“Getting a closer was just humongous for us,” Leyland exclaimed. “Now you can kind of work backwards and fill in some holes here and there. Here’s the sixth inning, seventh inning, eighth inning. Now Bonderman comes back, Zumaya comes back. Nate [Robertson] and Willis, you don’t know how that’s going to play out. But with Scherzer, Porcello, Verlander, all of a sudden you look pretty good.”
He also did not hide his hope for another left-handed hitter.
“We’d like to have one,” Leyland said. “It’s just not that easy to find.”
Other Leyland tidbits included his outlook on the catching situation, where Alex Avila’s potential playing time is a looming issue to determine whether or not he sticks with the big club.
“Normally playing time is dictated by performance,” Leyland said. “The better you play, the more you play. We obviously have a pretty solid everyday catcher that was as good defensively last year as anybody in the league but needs to produce a little more offensively. Alex got a little experience — not a whole lot, but some good experience last year.
“I think Gerald put a lot of pressure on himself last year at handling the staff, learning the pitchers. I’m not making excuses for him; but I think he’ll be better offensively this year. I may be wrong, but I believe that. I think last year he really concentrated on getting to know Verlander and the pitchers and make sure he was handling the running game and all those things that he did so well for us. I think he’ll relax a little bit more offensively this year and produce more. We need him to produce some more offensively, there’s no question about that. And he knows that.”
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.”
It's a done deal: the Tigers have sent Curtis Granderson to the Yankees and Edwin Jackson to the Diamondbacks in exchange for Max Scherzer, Daniel Schlereth, Austin Jackson and Phil Coke. The three GMs are scheduled to have a news conference at 4:30 pm. Look for that on MLB.com if you're not by a TV.