Results tagged ‘ Quintin Berry ’
The race for the last positional spot on the Tigers roster is down to two after Detroit optioned Quintin Berry to Toledo. That leaves Don Kelly and Danny Worth as the only two position players left without spots assured, though an AL source seconded Buster Olney’s report from last night that Ramon Santiago is apparently available for trade depending on how much of his $2.1 million salary Detroit would eat.
Berry played a big role in the Tigers’ late season charge last year, but Don Kelly’s hot spring and the time Berry lost to patellar tendinitis severely hurt his cause. Jeff Kobernus’ return to the Nationals seemingly should have helped Berry’s cause, because it left him as the only speedy runner left as a bench option for a team that supposedly wanted a late-inning pinch-runner. However, that wasn’t enough reason to keep him.
The note was so minute when Don Kelly signed his minor-league contract with a camp invite, it might have gotten overlooked. Indeed, Kelly came back to his old club to compete for his old job, but he also made sure to get an opt-out clause that would allow him to ask for his release if he doesn’t make the team at the end of camp, just in case there was another opportunity out there for him.
There wasn’t much made of it at the time because you had to consider what the chances were of a positional roster spot coming down to the final days of camp, especially with Kelly. It’s looking like a real chance now, and as the Tigers contemplate how they’re going to shape their Opening Day roster, Kelly’s opt-out clause and Quintin Berry’s lingering knee soreness might get some decisions made on the positional side before the final few games of camp.
Kelly’s opt-out means the Tigers have to let him know of their plans for him next week ahead of the end of camp, if he’s indeed going to be added to the 25-man roster or if they want him to consider a minor league assignment. That way, Kelly can check the landscape and decide whether to opt out with enough time to have a chance to land with another team before Opening Day rosters have to be set. Essentially, that means the Tigers also have to make a decision or two on guys with whom Kelly is competing for a spot on the bench — such as Berry. They’re both left-handed hitters competing for the roster spot not taken up by the right-handed hitting outfielder Jim Leyland wants to carry. Another player in that category could be utility infielder Danny Worth.
Berry left Sunday’s game and missed Monday’s trip with a recurrence of the patellar tendintis that sidelined him for two weeks earlier in camp before he returned to game action about a week ago. If that injury lingers a few days, it’s going to be very difficult to determine with much confidence by early next week whether Berry’s ready to go for the start of the season. Berry, for what it’s worth, has minor-league options left.
Kelly already seems like he has an inside track for a roster spot before the opt-out leverage. The Tigers could keep both Rule 5 pick Jeff Kobernus and utilityman Matt Tuiasosopo, but they both bat right-handed, which would leave switch-hitting infielder Ramon Santiago and switch-hitting backup catcher Brayan Pena as the only left-handed bats available off the bench. And Leyland isn’t going to pinch-hit with Pena unless he’s coming in to catch, because Leyland dreads being caught having to move Victor Martinez behind the plate and sacrifice his designated hitter if somebody gets injured (yes, Kelly could fill that emergency catcher role, too).
In any case, Kelly finds himself in pretty good position for somebody who came to camp looking like a longer shot to make the team. If camp broke today, he’d have a pretty good shot to make the team. The Tigers don’t have to decide that today, or tomorrow, or this week, but they still have to decide his fate a little sooner than normal.
Other notes from Monday’s win over the Nationals:
- A tweet from somebody Monday afternoon made a very good point: Those who cried panic at closer for the Tigers after three outings from Bruce Rondon and asked whether Detroit could make a move in time for the trip to Port St. Lucie the following week can’t easily dismiss what he has done since. In five outings since pitching coach Jeff Jones’ side session with Rondon to look over his mechanics, Rondon has five scoreless innings on four hits with two walks and nine strikeouts. He didn’t chew up the middle of the Nationals order Monday, but the fact that he maneuvered through it without solid contact from Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman or Adam LaRoche, and with strikeouts for his last two outs, is a pretty significant addition to his body of work this spring. I’m not going to say just yet that he’s going to get the full-time closer’s job out of camp, but if you’re saying he’s not ready for the big leagues at all, your argument is become more detached from the actual pitching.
- Somebody in the comments section on the notebook on the site today hung onto Leyland’s remark that a versatile long reliever is worth his weight in gold, and asked if that was literally possible. That got me thinking about Joaquin Benoit, currently Detroit’s highest-paid reliever at $5.5 million this year. Take his listed weight of 220 pounds and factor in the price of gold at around $1600 per ounce after today’s economic news out of Europe, and Benoit’s weight in gold would be worth $5,632,000. That is amazingly close. And no, I won’t calculate Rondon’s weight in gold.
- The sight of Prince Fielder in an all-out dive through the air to try to tag Jayson Werth before he could scramble back to first base has to terrify some baseball people in spring training. It’s still a tremendous hustle play from one of the highest-paid players in the game.
- The Tigers are on Fox Sports Detroit on Tuesday, but Leyland said he’ll watch his regulars’ innings for that game heading into the off-day. The next FSD broadcast Thursday night, after the off-day Wednesday, is when you’ll see the regulars start playing full games.
There are few things faster in baseball these days than a Bruce Rondon fastball. It has been clocked as high as 102 mph, including during the Futures Game in July at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium.
The only thing faster in the Tigers organization than Rondon’s fastball might be the track he’s on.
Dave Dombrowski’s end-of-season remarks are an annual tradition now, painting the roadmap for the Tigers offseason, both for what they might look to do and what their plans are with pending players. It also seems there’s usually a prospect or two that gets some lift out of it.
Three years ago, it was Scott Sizemore. Last year, Drew Smyly got a mention. Today might well go down as the day Dombrowski set the path for Rondon.
Everybody figured him to be a closer of the future with these guys. Tuesday was the day we found just how near that future might be.
“I would not discount Bruce Rondon in the competition for our closer role for next year,” Dombrowski said. “I’m not saying he’s going to be our closer, but I do not discount him in that role.
“He is a guy that throws — and people don’t sometimes believe this, but it is true — he averages 100 miles an hour and topped off at 103, and throws his breaking stuff for consistent strikes.”
Dombrowski confirmed what others had speculated, that Rondon was a serious consideration for a call-up leading into September this year, which would’ve made him eligible for the postseason roster. Had they known that Valverde was going to struggle the way they did, they would’ve done it, which would’ve put a whole different look on Detroit’s closer by committee.
“This guy is a special potential closer with the makeup of a closer,” Dombrowski continued, “and normally you’re not going to thrust that in a young guy’s hands and say automatically, ‘It’s your job.’ But it would not surprise me if he earned that job. With the number of good arms that are out there, there are not many arms like this, and he cherishes that type of role.”
Dombrowski wasn’t the only one touting Rondon. When Leyland was asked about the difference between going with a closer by committee in a postseason and doing that for a full season, he hesitated.
“I’ve handled those situations before, but who’s to say we won’t have a closer,” Leyland countered. “I think we will have a closer. I think it might be a surprise closer, but I think we might have one. And I’m not talking about Phil Coke, by the way. Not that I don’t like Phil Coke.”
Someone then mentioned Rondon.
“Rondon’s a good name. Here’s a kid, who knows? Believe me, I’m not putting my blessing on Rondon as a closer for next year, but I’m just mentioning that name as a possibility. When you’ve got an arm like that, that’s a possibility. Now, could he handle it mentally, could he handle it in a three-tier stadium with the bright lights? I don’t have a clue.”
It’s an interesting contrast. The last Tigers reliever who threw as hard as Bruce Rondon does was Joel Zumaya, who crashed the roster to become a force in a setup relief role in 2006. At no point did Zumaya ever earn the closer’s job, partly because of injuries but not entirely.
The last rookie to have any sort of closing job in Detroit was Franklyn German, who shared the job in 2003. However, a closer’s role on a 43-119 team isn’t exactly like a regular job. German shared the team lead in saves — with five.
If you count Fernando Rodney’s time down the stretch in 2005, the Tigers have had experienced closers in the role every year since 2006.
“You see [Aroldis] Chapman close and there’s been other young guys close for clubs,” Dombrowski said. “I know it hasn’t been our normal situation. People know how good an arm Zumaya had, this guy has every bit and it comes out easier with less effort in his delivery.”
Dombrowski is aware of their track record. He’s also well-aware he has a team that’s expected to win next year, a team that opened as a World Series favorite this week.
“I think you also have to be open-minded and flexible,” Dombrowski said. “It’s just like a couple years ago when in 2006, Verlander and Zumaya jumped up pretty good for us at that point. This guy [Rondon] is a talented guy. He’s a rare talent. You would not believe the number of clubs that called me about Bruce Rondon to trade him. If I had a choice of any young closer in baseball to give an opportunity to in any organization, it would be him. Now would be ready? I don’t know that. But he is that good.”
Here’s a roundup of the other remarks he had:
- Dombrowski was on the fence on whether Dirks has a full-time starting role for next year: ”Dirks is a good player. Is he an every-day player at this point? I don’t know. He might be. I know he’s a real good player. Can he combine with somebody? So I think we’ll just kind of look at that.”
- Dombrowski poo-poohed the idea that they could non-tender Brennan Boesch. “We’ll tender him a contract,” Dombrowski said. ”He’s not where we would like him to be at this point, because if we did he’d have been on our roster for the postseason, so that’s a pretty obvious summation. But I think it’s the case that he still has ability, he can still hit the ball out of the ballpark. We still see some untapped potential, and he has struggled some.”
- When asked what went wrong in the World Series, Dombrowski cited the offense, and pointed to an article that said they went 1-for-17 when putting pitches in play that were over the middle of the plate (not sure which article, otherwise I’d provide a link). “They pitched well,” Dombrowski said, “but we also didn’t hit the pitches we could handle. Why didn’t they do that? Was the timing a little bit off? Maybe. Did they keep off timing with the layover, did they keep them off-balance with the stuff that they threw, changing speeds? I’m sure that, too. Did they start pressing a little bit, try to do too much? Maybe a combination of all that. But it’s almost hard to believe when you say they went 1-for-17 on balls down the middle of the plate.”
- Quintin Berry will go into camp with a chance to compete for a spot on the roster. Coincidentally, Leyland said that with Victor Martinez back, they’ll have a use for a pinch-runner on their bench.
- The Tigers will designate Don Kelly for assignment later on this week, Dombrowski said, to open a spot on the 40-man roster. From there, clubs will have a chance to claim him, just as they did when the Tigers designated him in August. If he isn’t claimed, however, the Tigers would like to bring him back on a minor-league contract to compete for a roster spot. “He knows how well thought of he is here,” Dombrowski said. “But I also know that other people are in a position where somebody may offer him a better opportunity. That’s what guys look for when they’re free agents.”
- No comment on the status of Ryan Raburn, because Dombrowski hasn’t had a chance to talk with him yet. They still have him under team control for a year, so technically they don’t have to do anything if they want to keep him. If they want to use his roster spot for someone else, well, that’s another matter, and one they would probably want to talk with him about.
- Dombrowski did not want to get into the possibility of contract talks with Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, both two years away from free agency. That’s a matter he still has to discuss with ownership. However, he said they’d like to have both for a long time.
- Avisail Garcia, Dombrowski said, is a “tough call” on whether he makes the roster next year. ”He has star potential,” Dombrowski said. “He’s a five-tool player. I’m not sure that he’s ready as a corner outfielder to give us the contributions that we need on an overall basis at this time, but I’m not sure that he’s not. He is going to play everyday in winter ball for Magglio’s team in Venezuela. I think he’s a guy that we’ll keep a real close eye on in how he develops over the wintertime.”
- If the Tigers can’t re-sign Sanchez, Dombrowski didn’t sound particularly strong about getting another starter to fill his spot, saying it would have to be a substantial improvement over what they have.
- Smyly would not be viewed as a full-time reliever.
- Dombrowski is not concerned about Scherzer going into the offseason. ”What happened,” Dombrowski said, “was [his shoulder] got tired like a lot of your muscles get tired, and it’s just more a mater of it needing some rest and then building it back up. So he got some rest and built it back up, but at that time period you don’t have a chance to go out there every five days and build it up. So the feeling is with Scherzer that he’ll be absolutely fine.”
- A second lefty reliever isn’t a high priority for the Tigers to acquire this winter. Dombrowski believes they can fill the spot in-house, though he didn’t rule out adding an arm.
If Justin Masterson is going to try to use his sinker to get a ground ball, it can’t hurt to start a guy with enough speed to beat a throw to first on a ground ball. Enter Quintin Berry, who gets the start in Delmon Young’s place this time around (you may have heard about Delmon sitting against Masterson last week).
- Austin Jackson, CF
- Andy Dirks, RF
- Miguel Cabrera, 3B
- Prince Fielder, 1B
- Brennan Boesch, DH
- Alex Avila, C
- Jhonny Peralta, SS
- Quintin Berry, LF
- Omar Infante, 2B
P: Anibal Sanchez
- Shin-Soo Choo, RF
- Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
- Carlos Santana, DH
- Russ Canzler, LF
- Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B
- Casey Kotchman, 1B
- Cord Phelps, 2B
- Ezequiel Carrera, CF
- Lou Marson, C
P: Justin Masterson
For all practical purposes, Jim Leyland’s question over whether to bunt the potential winning run over to second base in the ninth inning Thursday was academic, since the signal never got to Ramon Santiago at the plate and Santiago swung away. Still, Leyland said, the question over whether to go for the win or tie the game stuck with him all night.
He had a different conclusion today than he did yesterday.
“I thought about it all night, and I came to the conclusion I [messed] up one thing: I should have never even thought about bunting Santiago,” Leyland said.
He didn’t change his thoughts on how the inning played out from there. With no outs, he was not going to call for a squeeze bunt, nor was he going to have Omar Infante try to steal second and risk a line drive double play.
“Not with nobody out,” Leyland said. “If he hits a line drive, it’s a double play. In fact, if I had sent him with Santiago, it would’ve been a double play. First and third, nobody out, for the most part, no matter who’s hitting, you’ll very rarely see me send a guy, because a ground ball, you get the run.”
Nor was he going to use either of the two hitters on the bench, Delmon Young, or Jeff Baker to pinch-hit in that situation.
“All we needed was contact, anywhere on the ground. Contact, or fly ball, contact anywhere, and we get the tying run in,” Leyland said. “And I was worried about the strikeout, because that guy’s real nasty. …
“The funny part about it was I had Delmon Young ready to pinch-hit, but as the inning played [out], it played totally different than what I needed him to pinch-hit for. I was only going to pinch-hit for him if there was like two outs and nobody on, because it was Avila, Infante and Santiago. With two out, nobody on, I was going to let him take a shot at maybe hitting a homer. But [not] after all we needed was a ground ball or a fly ball.”
The big regret, he said, was thinking about having Santiago bunt, and planting the idea in Santiago’s head beforehand that they might call for the bunt.
“When he went up there, I said look for this first pitch to hit, just like he did to Infante. We didn’t bunt, but I knew he’d lay something in there thinking we were bunting. And I told Santi the same thing. Well, he took the first pitch, and I was actually trying to get the bunt on, which we didn’t. But I should’ve just let him [hit], because I told him afterwards that he might bunt.
“We had the tying run. If he just hits a ground ball or a fly ball or anything, we’ve got the tying run. I should’ve just let him think about hitting all the way, not even mention bunt. Because if he gets the run in with a fly ball, you’ve still got a guy on first. You’ve got Berry hitting. You’ve got Dirks coming up. You might hit and run, you might do something. I mean, we had the tie right there. If he hits a ground ball to second [for a] double play, we’ve got the game tied. I shouldn’t have even been thinking bunt. That’s where I messed up.”
The Tigers came into Tuesday’s game against the Yankees weighting their lineup towards right-handed hitters against Phil Hughes, a right-hander who has been far tougher on lefties than righties this year. They won in part with two RBI singles from Andy Dirks and two tough at-bats from Brennan Boesch, both left-handed hitters.
On Wednesday, they’ll face an actual left-handed pitcher, CC Sabathia, who has been tough on left-handed hitters for the better part of a decade. And so, manager Jim Leyland will give Jeff Baker, the right-handed utilityman they acquired over the weekend, his first playing time with a start in left field. Gerald Laird will start behind the plate (hopefully finishing the game this time), and Ramon Santiago will start in place of Jhonny Peralta, who’s a right-handed hitter but who’s 2-for-20 off Sabathia.
This is the flexibility Leyland wanted from his roster down the stretch, particularly in the outfield. He admits he felt starting pitcher was a bigger priority than extra right-handed bat, but he still wanted the latter to fill out the roster. Now that he has what he needed, he says he’s going to try to get everyone involved, particularly in the outfield. But it won’t be easy.
“We have a chance right now to have everybody involved,” Leyland said. “Everybody has a chance to be a hero. But everybody’s got to buy in.”
With that in mind, Leyland said he met with all of his outfielders earlier this week and tried to let them know his plans.
“I told them, ‘I can play four of six every day, but I can’t play you all every day,’” he said. “I explained it to them so everybody knows their situation and everybody knows they might not be in the lineup every day with the exception of [Austin] Jackson. Everybody knows pretty much what they’re going to be doing and you just ask them to be on board and be patient with it, because I’m happy with all the outfielders. But I can only play three in the outfield and one DH. That’s four; we got six. That’s fun but it also keeps people fresh.”
That holds especially true against most right-handed starters, since they have three left-handed hitters in Boesch, Dirks and Quintin Berry. Leyland said Tuesday night that he’ll start Berry on Thursday against Hiroki Kuroda. It’ll be Berry’s first start in five days.
“When you have a dilemma, and it’s a good dilemma, you meet it head-on,” Leyland said.
For all the attention given Jim Leyland’s remarks about Ryan Raburn’s not-so-long leash and instant replay, his closing quote that Austin Jackson might not be ready Friday really got overlooked. That outlook went from “might not” to “not going to be” in his remarks this afternoon.
While Jackson is rehabbing his abdominal strain back in Detroit, he is not doing any baseball activities yet, and he doesn’t figure to do any until the Tigers get back. Head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said they’ll re-evaluate Jackson on Friday, which is also the day he’s eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list.
Even if he looks healthy by then, however, it’s hard to see him being ready to play that night without any on-field work in the days leading up.
Thus, Leyland said of Jackson’s return, “It’s not going to be as soon as we’d hoped, obviously.”
That’s a tough break for the Tigers, who could use Jackson’s glove and bat in center and leadoff even if it means shifting Quintin Berry somewhere else. But it also means delayed the much-speculated roster decision on how to make room for Jackson if Berry’s going to stick around.