January 10th, 2012

Nothing going on with Tigers on Garza

Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski told the Detroit News “nothing has changed” in regards to his remarks from last week on the Tigers’ approach to starting pitching and their prospects, despite recent rumors. Another source told MLB.com Tuesday that there’s nothing going on with the Tigers in regards to Cubs right-hander Matt Garza.

MLB Network and MLB.com’s Peter Gammons had similar sentiments Tuesday night on Hot Stove.

“I’m told it’s not going to happen,” Gammons said of a potential Garza deal to Detroit. “I mean, the Cubs are interested in talking with the Tigers. I’m told the Tigers have said, ‘We’re not going to do it.'”

Former Reds and Nationals general manager Jim Bowden, now a host on MLB Network Radio, suggested on ESPN.com that the Tigers could get a deal done for Garza if they included top positional prospect Nick Castellanos with Turner, their top pitching prospect. The Tigers were not willing to include them both in a package to the A’s for Gio Gonzalez, on whom they had serious discussions and seemingly valued more.

“Now, they won’t even do Turner for Garza,” Gammons continued. “In fact, the Tigers staff is saying to the front office, you know what, we can open the season with Turner as the fifth starter and see what happens.”

Gonzalez, whom Oakland traded to Washington last month, is four years away from free agency, as well as left-handed. Garza, a right-hander, has just two years left before he can hit the open market. Detroit’s rotation currently has four right-handers: Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello.

Tigers sign Niuman Romero to minor league contract

The Tigers’ list of non-roster invites was released earlier (it’s the next entry down on this blog, in fact), but I figured I’d pass along one more signing. Detroit has signed former Indians and Red Sox infielder Niuman Romero to a minor-league contract. The deal does not include an invite to big league camp.

Romero, who turns 27 later this month, spent most of his career with the Indians, having signed as a teenager out of Venezuela in 2002, before Cleveland sold his contract to Boston in 2010. He bounced around three different organizations last year, spending most of his time at the Double-A level with the Phillies and Mets. Add up his stops, and he batted .231 with 23 RBIs over 75 games in 2011.

Romero gives the Tigers insurance on the farm at shortstop, where Cale Iorg is recovering from shoulder surgery last fall. Detroit has a crop of young shortstop prospects generating hope, but not necessarily ready to open the season at Double-A Erie.

Romero has 12 big league games on his resume between the 2009 Indians and 2010 Red Sox. He went 2-for-18 in those games.

Tigers announce spring training invites

The list of non-roster invites to spring training is out, both for minor-league free agents and for Tigers prospects. Most of the names have already been announced, or at least strongly hinted it. Some haven’t. That includes third-base prospect Nick Castellanos.

Castellanos was an extra player at a few games last spring, but he’ll be in camp every day this time around, at least for the first few weeks. So will last year’s first-round top pick, James McCann, who will serve as one of the extra catchers to catch some of the many pitchers in camp. Drew Smyly, reigning Tigers minor-league pitcher of the year, was also announced as a non-roster invite.

Here’s the full list, which actually isn’t a very long list compared with past years:

  • RHP: Chris Bootcheck
  • LHPs: Darin Downs, Drew Smyly
  • Catchers: Rob Brantly, Curt Casali, Bryan Holaday, Patrick Leyland, James McCann, Omir Santos
  • Infielders: Nick Castellanos, Audy Ciriaco, Argenis Diaz, Ryan Strieby
  • Infielders/outfielders: Justin Henry, Eric Patterson
  • Outfielders: Quintin Berry, Jerad Head, Matt Young

The Tigers also made their reporting dates official. Pitchers and catchers report to camp on February 19, with the first workout the next day. Most pitchers, however, will be in camp before that. The first full-squad workout is February 24.

Impemba named Michigan Sportscaster of the Year

Congratulations go out to Tigers television play-by-play man Mario Impemba, who was voted Michigan Sportscaster of the Year by members of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.

It’s been a decade since Impemba came back home to become the TV voice of the Tigers alongside then-analyst Kirk Gibson in the booth after following Josh Lewin. A year later, he teamed up with Rod Allen and watched many of the 119 losses in 2003. The Tigers have changed vastly since then, as have the Tigers broadcasts, with every game on television. Impemba has been the constant, a welcome presence for Tigers fans and a respected voice at the ballpark, making his mark in the rich history of Tigers broadcasts. He jumped over onto a few FOX network broadcasts last summer, and he’s earning some well-deserved kudos as the voice of Oakland University basketball on radio and television.

Congratulations also to Detroit Free Press reporter and occasional Tigers coverage writer Mark Snyder, who was named Michigan Sportswriter of the Year.

The NSSA will recognize its state winners along with National Sportscaster of the Year Dan Shulman and National Sportswriter of the Year Joe Posnanski at the organization’s annual awards banquet on Monday, June 11 in Salisbury, NC. In case you’re wondering, that’s an off-day for the Tigers in the middle of their road trip to the Reds and Cubs.