Blogs > Out of Left Field

A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to defend their back-to-back American League Central titles.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Opening Day lineups for Tigers vs Yankees

Tigers:
Austin Jackson, CF
Will Rhymes, 2B
Magglio Ordonez, RF
Miguel Cabrera, 1B
Victor Martinez, DH
Ryan Raburn, LF
Jhonny Peralta, SS
Brandon Inge, 3B
Alex Avila, C

Justin Verlander, P

Yankees:
Brett Gardner, LF
Derek Jeter, SS
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nick Swisher, RF
Jorge Posada, DH
Curtis Granderson, CF
Russell Martin, C

CC Sabathia, P

TV: FSD-HD, ESPN
Radio: WXYT-FM (97.1) and AM (1270)

Live chat: http://bit.ly/hHNJoQ

Tigers Opening Day live chat

If you, like me, have been counting down the days until March 31st, when the Tigers open their 2011 season at Yankee Stadium, but you'll be sitting at home watching on TV, by all means join in our live chat. Hopefully, it'll be a lively conversation with plenty of Tigers fans, celebrating the imminent return of spring, as signaled by the start of the Major League Baseball season.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tigers make final cuts, send down Worth, Dirks, Wilks keep Boesch, Wells

The Tigers made their final three cuts Saturday morning to get down to the 25-man roster for the regular season.

To get there, the Tigers optioned reserve infielder Danny Worth to Toledo, and assigned two of this spring's biggest surprises, outfielder Andy Dirks and lefty pitcher Adam Wilk, to the minor league camp. All three had impressive springs, making Leyland's decision that much harder.

"You are breaking hearts. We've broken a couple and we'll break a couple more," said Leyland about having to make the final roster moves, which were the most scrutinized of the spring.

Barring any last-minute moves, the moves mean that Brennan Boesch and Casper Wells will both make the team as reserve outfielders, and Ramon Santiago will be the extra infielder. Utility man Don Kelly can play both infield and outfield, as well.

The final two bullpen slots went to 23-year-old Venezuelan right-hander Brayan Villareal, who ranked second-best in the Tigers' minor league system with 136 strikeouts between single and double-A a year ago, and veteran right-hander Enrique Gonzalez, a non-roster invitee who split time between Toledo and Detroit a year ago.

A little over two weeks ago, Leyland had praised his corps of young lefty relievers — including Wilk, last year's minor league pitcher of the year in the organization, rookie Charlie Furbush, veteran Fu-Te Ni and youngsters Daniel Schlereth and Duane Below — saying that it was conceivable that all of them could stick with the parent club. In the final evaluation, however, it will only be Schlereth who heads north with the Tigers. He and veteran Brad Thomas will be the bullpen's two southpaws to start the season.

The Tigers' minor league player of the year last season, Dirks hit .333 with four doubles, three triples and a homer this spring, further complicating what was already a logjam of outfielders competing for just one or two slots. But his spring couldn't match what Boesch and Wells had done in the regular season for the Tigers a year ago. The Tigers' second-best defensive outfielder, Wells can play all three outfield positions, while both he and Boesch can provide pinch-hit pop off the bench.

A career .251 hitter in the minors in the four seasons since the Tigers selected him in the second round of the 2007 draft, Worth's bat finally caught up to his glove this spring, as he too hit .333, with six doubles. Leyland has said that he's a major league-ready defender, but Santiago is a veteran of nine major league seasons, seven of them with the Tigers.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Starting to settle some positions — 2B, OF, bullpen

The Tigers cut five more players — including the heir apparent at second base, Scott Sizemore — from the major league camp on Tuesday, clearing a bit of room out of a few of the logjams at the positions of competition.

The Tigers optioned Sizemore, reliever Robbie Weinhardt and outfielder Clete Thomas to Triple-A Toledo, and sent reliever Fu-Te Ni and catcher Max St. Pierre to minor league camp.

With Sizemore's demotion, the second base job belongs to Will Rhymes now, a fact manager Jim Leyland confirmed Tuesday. But even the light-hitting Danny Worth (.323) outhit Sizemore (.243) this spring, leaving last year's Opening Day starter at second base on the outside looking in. A shortstop by trade, Worth's biggest drawback to date has been his ineffectiveness with the stick but, as that has come on this spring, he's gotten more and more praise from Leyland. If he makes the trip north as the reserve infielder in place of Ramon Santiago — who's been mentioned in trade rumors — it won't be much of a surprise.

Thomas, who missed most of the 2010 season with a knee injury, was the odd man out in the battle for the fourth outfielder spot, a competition that's now down to just three. Brennan Boesch, last year's rookie sensation, Casper Wells, who Leyland has called the Tigers' second-best defensive outfielder, and Andy Dirks, the surprise of this year's spring training, are battling it out for the last spot behind the starters, Austin Jackson, Magglio Ordonez and Ryan Raburn. Utility man Don Kelly, who can also play the outfield, has already been given a roster spot.

Weinhardt had two moderately successful stints with the big club last season, and was a favorite for one of the four or five bullpen spots behind fixtures: Jose Valverde in the closer's role, and free-agent acquisition Joaquin Benoit in the set-up role. It depends whether the Tigers carry 11 or 12 pitchers on the roster to start the season, but Ryan Perry and lefties Brad Thomas and Daniel Schlereth seem the most likely to be given spots. That may leave the last one or two spots down to a competition between young lefty Adam Wilk and right-handers Brayan Villareal and Enrique Gonzalez.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tigers send RHP Wise down to minor league camp

After sending 18 down on Tuesday, the Tigers made one more move on Wednesday, reassigning right-hander Brendan Wise to the minor league camp.
Wise, who was 6-2 with a 1.87 ERA between Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo last year, had a 5.06 ERA this spring, in 5 1-3 innings of work, but two of his three earned runs were in his last spring outing.
Sending Wise down leaves the Tigers with 39 players in camp, 18 of them pitchers, including the still-rehabilitating Joel Zumaya.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tigers confirm Zumaya, Guillen won't be ready for opening day

In an announcement that surprised absolutely no one, the Detroit Tigers confirmed on Tuesday that second baseman Carlos Guillen and relief pitcher Joel Zumaya won't be ready for Opening Day.
No more surprising were any of the 18 cuts that the Tigers made this morning, once the extra dozen and a half players were no longer needed for their slew of split-squad games.
In the second week of his enforced layoff from pitching prescribed by noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews, Zumaya is still dealing with setbacks after elbow surgery last season. Scar tissue tore loose during the early portion of camp, causing inflammation in Zumaya's surgically-repaired joint.
His absence means the Tigers will still be searching for an arm to handle the bullpen's seventh-inning duties, setting up offseason acquisition Joaquin Benoit and closer Jose Valverde.
The likely candidates for the role now are lefties Daniel Schlereth, Charlie Furbush and non-roster invitee Fu-Te Ni, and right-handers Robbie Weinhardt and Al Albuquerque.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland said last week that there are no players in the organization or available for trade that could replace a "healthy Joel Zumaya," with the emphasis on healthy. As we all know, Zumaya hasn't been that too often since his ballyhooed debut in 2006.
Leyland has also stated repeatedly that Guillen would be his starting second baseman, if healthy, but with the veteran just beginning baserunning activities last week, it appears less and less likely that his rehab from season-ending microfracture knee surgery will permit him back on the field full-time until after the start of the season.
That leaves the starting battle between last year's Opening Day starter at second, Scott Sizemore, and Will Rhymes, the most effective of the many players who filled the position last season. Danny Worth is probably a distant third at this point.
In their cuts Tuesday, the Tigers sent much-heralded pitching prospects Andy Oliver to Triple-A Toledo and Jacob Turner to Double-A Erie. Joining Oliver with the Mudhens are right-handers Lester Oliveros and Jose Ortega and lefty Duane Below, along with shortstops Audy Ciricao and Cale Iorg and first baseman Ryan Strieby.
Also sent down to the minor league camp at Tigertown were the heralded group of young catchers, including Leyland's son, Patrick, Rob Brantly, Bryan Holaday, John Murrian and Omir Santos. Pitchers Chris Oxpring and John Bale, infielders Brandon Douglas and outfielders Avisail Garcia and Ben Guez were the other cuts.

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Single-game tickets go on sale Saturday, line forms Friday

They're words that, every spring, inevitably follow "pitchers and catchers report," almost a rite of spring in their own right.
The words are: Single-game tickets are now on sale.

If the prospect of spring training is getting you geeked for the start of the season, than you'll probably want to head down to the Comerica Park box office (or to participating Meijer stores) on Saturday or log onto DetroitTigers.com, and start picking out tickets for the upcoming season.

That's especially true if you want a ticket to the home opener vs. the Kansas City Royals on Friday, April 8.

In fact, if you want to assure that you'll get your tickets to Opening Day, you might want to head to Comerica on Friday, starting at 3 p.m. While tickets don't officially go on sale until 10 a.m. Saturday, the Tigers — in an effort to keep people from lining up overnight — will be giving out 500 wristbands to fans who come to the box office on Friday. Those 500 fans with wristbands will be first in line Saturday morning, when the box office opens.

Fans will be limited to four Opening Day tickets per person.

Some other key dates to consider (and why):
• April 9 — Miguel Cabrera Magnet Schedule day
• April 22 — Austin Jackson figurine giveaway, modeled on his catch from June 2, 2010
• May 3 — Detroit Tigers Fleece Scarf day (maybe this should have been scheduled earlier)
• May 23 — Detroit Tigers Salsa Bowl day (which is different from Detroit Tigers salsa dancing day — that's usually in the offseason)
• June 12 — Max Scherzer Bobblehead day (wonder if the bobblehead will have varicolored eyes, like the real Max does?)
• Aug. 21 — Victor Martinez Back to School Backpack day (just because it's a really long name)
• Sept. 3 — "Going, Going, GREEN!" Tigers Hat day (is that because there's no game on March 17?)
• Sept. 10 — Detroit Tigers Star Wars Night Acrylic Tumbler (do you really need any more reason than that?)

Key series:
April 22-24 — Chicago White Sox (first home series)
May 2-5 — New York Yankees
May 26-29 — Boston Red Sox
May 30-June 1 — Minnesota Twins (first home series)
June 24-26 — Arizona Diamondbacks (and manager Kirk Gibson)
July 1-3 — Defending World Champion San Francisco Giants
July 15-17 — Chicago White Sox
Sept. 22-28 — final home stand, vs. Baltimore (4) and Cleveland (3)

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