Results tagged ‘ Ryan Strieby ’
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.
The Tigers’ first move of the Winter Meetings was a subtraction, not an addition. Detroit outrighted the contract of first baseman Ryan Strieby to Triple-A Toledo, opening up a spot on their 40-man roster.
Detroit’s roster filled up once they signed Gerald Laird last month. This returns them to 39 players, though it doesn’t necessarily mean a move is on the way. This gives them some flexibility ahead of the Rule 5 Draft, for which Strieby will now be eligible.
Strieby was a power hitting prospect a few years ago, but wrist injuries have sapped his bat speed over the last few years. He hit .255 with 19 home runs and 76 RBIs at Triple-A Toledo this past season, but he struck out 171 times in 557 plate appearances. By contrast, his previous career high in strikeouts was 101, and the last time he had at least 500 plate appearances in a season (2007 at West Michigan), he struck out just 78 times.
With Victor Martinez around, Strieby was no longer an insurance policy at first base.
Nearly three weeks after Brett Gardner slid into Carlos Guillen’s left knee, Guillen said the soreness is just as bad as it was before, as is the pinching pain he gets when he moves around sometimes.
“Maybe worse,” he said.
It’s a bad sign, obviously, and it puts his potential return this season in question.
Though Guillen said he’s walking better than he had been, he said the knee still restricts him from doing much more than that. That basically puts him in a holding pattern right now, limiting him to basic rehab activities.
Guillen will visit with team physician Dr. Stephen Lemos in the coming days. That exam might include another MRI.
“That’ll probably be something we’ll look at as we go forward,” head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said Monday morning.
They’re not looking at his return anytime soon. And with four weeks left in the season, there’s a growing possibility that he’s done for the year. Leyland said he didn’t know whether Guillen would be back this season, and Guillen didn’t sound confident in his situation either.
“At this point right now, obviously we’ve got to get his knee to the point where he has no soreness,” Leyland said. “Once we get to that point, then we can increase his activity. But at the pace it’s going right now, we might run out of time.”
Other injury updates:
- Armando Galarraga said his elbow issues were different than normal pitching soreness, he said he was feeling better today. He doesn’t believe he’ll miss any starts because of it once he gets some treatment on it. Still, manager Jim Leyland indicated the Tigers could make one more September call-up because of it, certainly if it lingers. Coincidentally, Andy Oliver threw a side session at Triple-A Toledo Sunday after making his last start of the season for the Mud Hens Friday.
- Gerald Laird is still out with back issues. He’s going to get treatment Monday and Tuesday for the goal of playing Wednesday against White Sox lefty John Danks.
- Ryan Raburn is better today after what appears to be a case of food poisoning Sunday. He fell ill just before game time and stayed that way until the problem lifted overnight.
- Ryan Strieby underwent a CT scan Sunday and has an appointment coming up with hand specialist Dr. Thomas Graham. There’s a real possibility he could recommend another surgery on Strieby’s ailing left wrist, which has sidelined him since the end of July. If that happens, obviously, he’ll miss the Arizona Fall League for a second straight year.
The first thing that stands out about Ryan Strieby is that he’s big, really big. He’s every bit of his listed size of 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds. Dontrelle Willis gave him the nickname Polar Bear while they were working while they were working out at the same performance complex in Arizona this winter.
Strieby’s bat lives up every bit to his size. His two home runs so far this spring — one in the exhibition win over Florida Southern that didn’t count in the stats, the other in Sunday’s loss to the Blue Jays — have both been big, wind or no wind. Whenever he connects to the ball, it seems to be with authority.
“I mean, I’m a pretty big guy,” he said, “so I guess I should have pretty good power.”
He doesn’t mean that to brag. He says it unassumingly. He considers himself a hitter rather than a power hitter, but he hits the ball hard so often.
“I guess a lot of people view me as a power hitter,” he said, “but I really don’t try to hit the ball out of the park. Try to stay up the middle and hit line drives. A lot of times, I hit the ball with backspin and it carries out of the yard.”
He hits with enough power that it’s hard not to notice him. He certainly has caught the Tigers’ attention, even before Sunday’s homer.
Manager Jim Leyland uses the term “top prospect” maybe a little more loosely than others, but he nonetheless does it with a purpose. A top prospect, by his definition, has a chance to be an everyday player in the big leagues. Strieby fits the category of top prospect.
He has the talent to hit regularly in the big leagues. Now he has to have the health to go with it. He might finally be at that point again.
The start of Strieby’s injury problems came down the stretch of his breakout 2008 season. He hit 29 home runs at Class A Lakeland, pounding the ball in what is historically a pitcher’s league with big ballparks, when he fractured the hamate bone in his left wrist down the stretch. He recovered in time for Spring Training last year in minor league camp, but had some more problems that shelved him there. He bounced back healthy early in the season, only to have his hand problems come back.
It sapped some of the power out of his frame. He had moved from spacious Joker Marchant Stadium to the cozy surroundings of Erie’s Jerry Uht Park, what should’ve been paradise for a right-handed power hitter in the summer, yet his power just about vanished once the weather warmed up. He hit 19 home runs for the season, and 12 of them came in April and May. He could still hit for average, mind you, but the power wasn’t there.
With the hand bothering him, he said, he couldn’t turn on a pitch the way he usually does.
“When the hand’s feeling good, I can turn on [the ball] a little bit more,” he said. “The pitch away is a little bit easier. When the hand’s hurting, I can go with that. But when the hand was hurting on the top side, getting my hand through on the inside pitch, that’s what was causing that pain was that movement. That’s what was making it difficult to get through the inside pitch.
Doctors found a bone fragment in his hand and almost immediately operated. He lost not only the tail end of his regular season, but his assignment to the Arizona Fall League. His good friend and Erie teammate Casper Wells made a return trip there in his place and thrived.
Now, after going through the rigors of performance training over the winter, they’re both thriving in camp. Strieby is turning on pitches, and Leyland is catching a glimpse of what he hopes could be a homegrown power hitter if he develops further at Triple-A Toledo, where he’s likely to see time.
“To be healthy, that’s the main thing,” Strieby said. “Coming in, I’m just happy with how my hand’s felt so far. That’s the No. 1 priority, to get through Spring Training healthy, especially after hurting it last year and not knowing exactly what was wrong with it, trying to play through the pain.”
What began as a drizzly morning here in Lakeland ended up a sun-soaked and warm afternoon, probably the first real sunscreen type of day since spring training began. Very good day for the Tigers to have their first full-squad workout, and manager Jim Leyland’s mood reflected it.
After one full-squad workout — and probably more important, one day of batting practice — Leyland was raving about the prospects the Tigers have coming up in the system.
“I can tell, we’ve got a lot of talent in this camp, down low [in the system] and up high. I mean, it was an eye-opener out there today.”
- “There’s a lot of prospects, probably the most prospects I’ve ever had in a camp.”
- “I can assure you that these guys will be in Detroit someday, a lot of them. I don’t know where I’ll be [at that time], but they will be.”
- “There’s guys hitting balls over trees, way over trees. … When you have veterans doing double-takes to watch a kid hit, that’s usually a pretty good measuring stick.”
Leyland didn’t want to mention prospects by name when he was talking about this, but one can surmise that he was talking about, Ryan Strieby, Brennan Boesch and Casper Wells, among others. Wells reported to camp in noticeably strong shape after spending most of the winter working out with Strieby in Arizona at the API training facility. He almost looks like he’s got a linebacker’s build playing outfield.
What does this mean for Detroit? For now, probably nothing. Unless Wells makes a run and takes the CF job from Austin Jackson in camp, most of the hitting talent will be opening in Toledo, which has the chance for a really nice offense if you add in a healthy Jeff Larish and maybe Alex Avila. But keep it in mind as the summer unwinds and the Tigers get closer to next offseason, when Dombrowski suggested the Tigers will make more “adjustments.”
Anyway, on to some notes …
- Speaking of youngsters, Scott Sizemore did everything that every other infielder did on the first formal workout for position players. He’s still coming along with the ankle, but it isn’t limiting what he can do. No definitive word yet over whether he’ll be able to start at second when games begin in a week, but it’s looking upbeat. “He needs to get at-bats,” Leyland said. “He needs to play second base this spring a lot.”
- The Tigers designated Casey Fien for assignment to make room for Johnny Damon on the 40-man roster, but Fien isn’t leaving camp just yet. He’s just going across the street. Though he’s technically in limbo until he’s either claimed on waivers, traded or outrighted, he can work out at the Tigers’ minor league facility across the street. The team has invited and encouraged him to do so.
- In addition to talking with Carlos Guillen about his role, Leyland said he talked with Johnny Damon about his situation and whether he feels more comfortable batting leadoff or hitting second. Damon said he’s fine either way, but that they involve two different approaches. He doesn’t hit for as high of an average or reach base to the same percentage hitting second compared to leadoff, but he can do some other things in his game.
- Leyland didn’t really want to talk about Ryan Raburn’s situation this morning after just discussing Guillen, but he said in the afternoon that Raburn will work out in the infield as well as the outfield now that full-squad workouts are underway. That’s a change from the offseason, when Leyland said he wanted Raburn to focus on being an outfielder. Raburn and Don Kelly are probably going to see work at basically every position but shortstop, catcher and pitcher this spring.
- Strieby, by the way, is going to see time at both 1B and OF this spring. He’ll most likely be an outfielder in Toledo as he tries to make the transition away from Miguel Cabrera’s position and into a spot where he could actually see some playing time in Detroit.