Results tagged ‘ Robbie Weinhardt ’

Saturday: Tigers vs. Royals

It’s the second home game of the season, the day when the Tigers start to really settle into a routine at Comerica Park. For Casper Wells, however, it’s Opening Day. The last Tigers position player to get a start is in the lineup today, getting the start against lefty Bruce Chen.

Look for some more creativity if the Tigers take a lead into the seventh inning. Leyland is looking for six innings or so out of Phil Coke, and both Brayan Villarreal and Daniel Schlereth are off today since they pitched teh last couple days. Could be a spot for Robbie Weinhardt to get his first appearance, or it could be a day for Leyland to mix and match Brad Thomas and Enrique Gonzalez again. We’ll see.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Will Rhymes, 2B
  3. Magglio Ordonez, DH
  4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  5. Victor Martinez, C
  6. Ryan Raburn, LF
  7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  8. Brandon Inge, 3B
  9. Casper Wells, RF

P: Phil Coke

ROYALS

  1. Chris Getz, 2B
  2. Melky Cabrera, CF
  3. Alex Gordon, LF
  4. Billy Butler, DH
  5. Kila Ka’aihue, 1B
  6. Jeff Francoeur, RF
  7. Wilson Betemit, 3B
  8. Brayan Pena, C
  9. Alcides Escobar, SS

P: Bruce Chen

Perry to DL, Weinhardt recalled from Toledo

The Tigers’ first DL move of the regular season wasn’t anything expected. Detroit placed Ryan Perry on the 15-day DL on Thursday, retroactive to Tuesday, with an infected eye. Robbie Weinhardt, one of the last cuts of Spring Training, has been recalled from Triple-A Toledo to take his place.

Weinhardt was already in Toledo for the Mud Hens season opener. He’ll be in Baltimore for tonight’s series finale against the Orioles.

What that means for the Tigers’ seventh-inning relief options might take a little longer to sort out. Manager Jim Leyland had Phil Coke available for the first four games, but he’s now back in starter mode ahead of his turn in the rotation Saturday against the Royals.

Weinhardt could be an option, as could left-handers Daniel Schlereth and Brad Thomas. As Leyland said a couple days ago, somebody needs to step up. The only difference now is that Perry isn’t an option for a couple weeks.

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. 

Zach Miner signs with Royals

The Tigers had every intent at keeping Zach Miner after they designated the right-hander for assignment last month, and Miner had plenty of interest in sticking with Detroit. But there was more interest in Miner than one might expect for a swing pitcher coming off Tommy John surgery.
And when it came down to picking a deal, Miner said, the Royals were a better opportunity for him. Kansas City announced its minor-league contract with Miner on Friday. (UPDATE: Miner will earn $950,000 if he spends the entire season with the big club, any DL time included. That’s the same salary for which he signed with the Tigers last year.)
“There were a few teams that checked in, and the Tigers and the Royals were the most aggressive,” Miner wrote in an email to MLB.com. “But in the end, we just felt like KC was going to be a very good opportunity going forward, not only for this year, but for a few years down the road.”
The prevailing thought a month ago was that no team would value Miner more coming off surgery than the Tigers, who knew what they had in him after four seasons in Detroit. But the Tigers also had it clear that they envision Miner as a reliever, not a starter, and they go into 2011 with potentially few openings in their bullpen between the addition of Joaquin Benoit and the development of their young relievers.
Kansas City, on the other hand, has openings abound, including in the rotation, and Miner said the Royals feel like he could start. 
It wasn’t an easy decision for Miner, who goes from being able to drive to Spring Training from his Florida home to now trekking to Arizona. But it was arguably the best decision for his career.
“I really enjoyed being a Tiger,” Miner said, “and loved playing for Jim Leyland.”
The Royals have seen enough of Miner to know what they’re getting if he’s healthy. He has pitched more innings in his career against Kansas City (49) than against any other opponent, going 5-4 with a 4.22 ERA in seven starts and 10 relief appearances.
What this means for Detroit isn’t clear quite yet, and might not be until we know how soon Miner is ready to pitch in games this coming season and how Joel Zumaya looks heading into camp. If Zumaya’s ready and Ryan Perry matures as a reliever, the relief corps is pretty well stocked from the seventh inning on. With both Miner and Eddie Bonine gone, though, the Tigers have lost their two experienced right-handed long relievers, as well as two ground-ball specialists. The Tigers might add another minor-league invite for depth, but at first glance, there’s a good opportunity for Robbie Weinhardt to make this team out of camp.

Tigers to recall Weinhardt Wednesday

The original plan for the Tigers’ September callups was that nobody was probably coming up until Triple-A Toledo’s season ended on Labor Day. There just isn’t much depth left in the farm system. However, Jeremy Bonderman’s rib cage muscle issues might have put a little more urgency in the works. The team announced Tuesday that right-handed reliever Robbie Weinhardt will be recalled Wednesday, the first day rosters can be expanded.

The Tigers sent down Weinhardt a couple weeks ago to work on his slider to go with his sinker. In general, manager Jim Leyland said at the time, his stuff was “up, up, up, up, up.” He has six innings with the Mud Hens since then, allowing an unearned runs on three hits with three walks and seven strikeouts.

Detroit had to go short in the bullpen when Alfredo Figaro made a spot start for Bonderman over the weekend. The Tigers haven’t announced their rotation for next weekend at Kansas City, so we don’t know yet whether Figaro will have to start for Bonderman again on Friday.

Tigers down to 27, Avila makes team

LAKELAND, Fla. — The Tigers’ catcher of the future will be their backup catcher of the present. Alex Avila will open the season in the big leagues, the Tigers decided Tuesday morning.

The move became official Tuesday morning once the team assigned veteran backup catcher Robinzon Diaz to minor league camp. Avila received the call from his father, Tigers assistant general manager Al Avila, Monday night over dinner.

The Tigers also optioned shortstop Brent Dlugach to Triple-A Toledo. Infielder/outfielder Jeff Larish and relievers Josh Rainwater and Robbie Weinhardt were assigned to minor league camp. The moves reduce the Tigers’ roster to 27 players; they have until Sunday to finalize their 25-man roster, but are expected to do that within the next day or two.

The moves with Dlugach and Larish leave the battle for the final positional roster spot down to utilityman Don Kelly and outfielder Clete Thomas. That decision could come in the next 24 hours. The one decision left after that is the pitching staff, where Dontrelle Willis, Jeremy Bonderman and Nate Robertson are battling for the final two spots in the rotation.

For the backup catching spot, the choice was essentially a decision on Avila, who has had only one full season as a pro after converting to catcher a few years ago at the University of Alabama. Avila started at DH Monday against the Blue Jays and went 2-for-3 with a double and a walk in what should be his final action before he finds out where he’ll open the season. The Tigers know he can hit in the big leagues, and his .394 average this spring hasn’t disappointed.

The Tigers had to make their best judgment whether he was better off catching a couple days per week in Detroit behind starter Gerald Laird or catching every day at Toledo.
Diaz was essentially the backup option if the Tigers chose the latter.

Avila spent the final two months last season with the Tigers and provided an offensive boost with his left-handed power bat. However, he caught only sparingly in September behind Laird, whose defense and game-calling skills made him a regular option despite his offensive struggles last year.

Laird has shown strong signs of being a better hitter this spring, but the Tigers still value Avila for his bat. He’ll also likely work on his catching on the side in Detroit.

Two of the three rotation candidates start Tuesday. While Jeremy Bonderman starts in a Triple-A game at Tigertown, Dontrelle Willis will be with the big club facing the Orioles Tuesday afternoon in Sarasota, Fla. It’ll be his first road start this spring, and it’ll be a good test if the Tigers needed it in their decisions.

Nate Robertson is scheduled to make his final spring tuneup Thursday against the Braves at Joker Marchant Stadium. By then, the decision will most likely have been made. What happens with the guy who doesn’t make the rotation, whoever that is, is another matter.

Leyland wants Bonderman to throw more splits

Yes, you’ve probably heard this before, but this time Jim Leyland has basically told Jeremy Bonderman that he needs the splitter as a third pitch if he’s going to be an effective pitcher.

“I talked to Bondo last night,” Leyland said Saturday morning. “With the equipment he has right now. I think he needs to become a three-pitch pitcher. He can’t pitch like he did before, throwing 95, 94 [mph]. He needs to use the three pitches to be effective. I think he can do that.”

That makes a difference how? Consider Bonderman’s comments after his first outing of the spring against the Blue Jays:

“I’ve got to throw it,” Bonderman said on March 3. “If I want to be any good,
I’ve got to take risks. I’m not going to go out there and just use what
I know works all the time. To be successful and have a full year, I
want that other pitch. If someone beats me out for the fifth spot,
fourth spot, whatever it is, then good for them.”

Now here are his comments four days later, after he was knocked out in the second inning:

“I don’t have a job,” Bonderman said. “Shoot, there’s five guys fighting for two jobs, maybe six guys. I don’t know exactly, but there’s enough guys fighting for them. [There's] nothing in stone that it’s my spot. Until [Leyland] comes up to me and says, ‘It’s your job,’ I don’t think I have a job. Just because you’re under contract doesn’t mean anything. I haven’t played in two years. I just need to get more consistent and get ahead in the count.”

Now, if Bonderman is feeling like he has to get ahead in counts and fight for a job, how much is he going to focus on working on a third pitch?

That’s where Leyland’s remarks make a difference. Ideally, they’re reassurance.

“I think guys are trying what they think is their best shot to make the team,” Leyland said Saturday morning.

Other items of interest from Saturday:

  • If Ramon Santiago looked a little faster running out his triple on Saturday, there’s a reason. He spent a good amount of time in the offseason doing workouts designed to help his quickness, including instruction from a former Cuban track and field coach now living in the Dominican. He also has worked with new coach Tom Brookens on how to hit the bases on the inside and get around quicker. He thinks he can steal some bases if the team asks him, but more important, he feels he can go from first to third on more hits to set up easy RBI chances.
  • Leyland reiterated what he has said about young lefty Daniel Schlereth so far: Good stuff, but a little inconsistent. Then he added this: A person he respects from another organization said he felt Schlereth had the best left-hander he saw all year in 2009. Wouldn’t say who it was.
  • Robbie Weinhardt is still in camp, albeit a long shot by Leyland’s admission to make the roster. Still, Leyland believes he isn’t far off. “He’s a good breaking ball from being a Major League pitcher right now,” Leyland said. “He has a true big-time sinker, but he needs to do more with his breaking ball.”
  • Today was a quick day back at work after being off Thursday and Friday. I’ll be off again Sunday. Always fun to get a break hanging out and watching March Madness. It’s one of those few sporting events where you can talk about a banker, an IT guy and a garbageman walking into a sports bar and not have it be the start of a joke.

Oliver gets welcome to pro ball

Jason Beck / MLB.com

Tigers second-round draft pick Andrew Oliver made his pro debut Tuesday in the Arizona Fall League and took the loss for the Peoria Javelinas with a four-run third inning.

Oliver, the left-hander the Tigers drafted out of Oklahoma State, replaced Javelinas starter and fellow Tigers farmhand Scot Drucker, who gave up a run on a hit — a Brandon Laird RBI single — in two innings. A leadoff single and back-to-back walks — one on four pitches, the next on five — loaded the bases on Oliver. He fell behind on a 3-1 count to left-handed hitting Mets prospect Ike Davis, who got a fastball on the inside part of the plate and pulled it out to right for a grand slam.

Oliver retired the side from there, finishing with a 29-pitch inning. Tigers relief prospect Robbie Weinhardt came in later and gave up five runs on six hits over 1 2/3 innings.

Casper Wells went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI. Cale Iorg had an RBI single.

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