Blogs > Out of Left Field

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

Friday, November 30, 2012

Tigers' lone non-tender is Schlereth


The Tigers confirmed Friday afternoon — the deadline for offering contract to arbitration-eligible players — that they would tender contracts to all of the unsigned players on their 40-man roster, with the exception of one.

Daniel Schlereth, who would not have been eligible for arbitration until after next season, was not tendered a contract, the team announced, and becomes a free agent.

The Tigers went into the offseason with an inordinate number of players headed to arbitration, but two of them — Don Kelly and Ryan Raburn — had already been taken out of the equation. That leaves Alex Avila, Brennan Boesch, Phil Coke, Doug Fister, Austin Jackson, Rick Porcello and Max Scherzer as players who will head toward arbitration.

“We have more arbitration-eligible players this year, than what we’ve had," Tigers president and GM Dave Dombrowski said in his press conference at the start of the offseason. "There’s some significant guys that fit that category, and that will take up a significant amount of dollars for us.”

It seemed pretty certain that the Tigers would keep the majority of the remaining players on that list around, considering how integral they will be to the construction of the team going forward. The lone exception might be Boesch who, along with Porcello, has been the subject of trade rumors as the offseason picks up momentum headed into next week's winter meetings.

Dombrowski said at the start of the offseason that the organization still had faith in Boesch, who struggled mightily in 2012, even if there was no guarantee he'd have much of a role in 2013.

"We'll tender him a contract," the GM said at the time. “I think in (his) case that he still has ability. He still hit the ball out of the ballpark. We still see some untapped potential. He has struggled some. He hasn’t made the strides we’d like him to make. However, sometimes power hitters take longer to come about, too. But I cannot look and tell you he’s a given, that one of those corner outfield spots are his at this time. That’s something he’d have to earn, by all means. But that doesn’t mean you’d non-tender him because I think he has value as a player.”

Rumors persisted in recent weeks that the team might not give him a contract, however.

Schlereth was a different story.

The 26-year-old former first-round pick of the Diamondbacks, acquired as part of the Curtis Granderson-Jackson-Scherzer trade, was with the team headed out of spring training in 2012. But he allowed eight earned runs and three homers in six appearances, posting a 10.29 ERA before being sent to Triple-A Toledo. Once there, it was determined he'd been pitching through shoulder tendinitis, and he was retroactively put on the disabled list. 

He'd spent most of the season on the shelf rehabilitating, but was not added when the Tigers roster expanded in September, despite having gone through a rehab stint in the minors. 

Many of Schlereth's career highlights with the Tigers are not the sort with which a pitcher would wish to be associated. He gave up noted Tiger-killer Jim Thome's 600th career home run on Aug. 15, 2011. Less than two months earlier, the Mets hadn't hit a grand slam in 299 games before they hit two off Schlereth within the span of two-thirds of an inning on June 28. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Tigers sign 19 to minor-league contracts


The Tigers officially announced Monday they'd signed 19 players — a dozen of them pitchers — to minor league deals for the upcoming season. Many of the individual transactions had been previously reported.

They include:

Right-handed pitchers Trevor Bell, Shawn Hill, Shane Dyer, Micah Kellogg, Cesar Carrillo, David Kopp, Victor Larez, Jesse Todd and Carlos Monasterios.

The list also included left-handed pitchers Jose Alvarez, Ramon Garcia and Efrain Nieves.

Catcher Brad Davis and infielders Argenis Diaz, Lance Durham and John Lindsey rounded out the list, along with infielder/outfielders Matt Tuiasosopo (above), Kevin Russo and Marcus Lemon, the son of former Tigers center fielder Chet Lemon.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Quintin Berry named Tigers Rookie of the Year


Awards come to those who wait.

Quintin Berry nearly gave up on baseball after he was released by the Mets last April, convinced that he would have to find another way to support his wife and forthcoming baby.

He'd later sign with the Reds, then wash out again before finally landing with the Detroit Tigers in November. In Spring Training, when he was one of the surprises of camp, he was just hoping to stick with the organization, and maybe get a chance to prove himself in Triple-A.

Now, Berry's been named the Detroit Tigers Rookie of the Year for the 2012 season, as voted by the Detroit Sports Broadcasters' Association. He'll be presented with his award before a home game next season.

He debuted with the Tigers in late May, when center fielder and leadoff man Austin Jackson was on the disabled list with a strain in his side, but did enough to stick with the team even after Jackson's return.

Berry, who made a bit of Tigers history in the regular season and again in the postseason, hit .258 with 18 extra-base hits, 29 RBI and 21 stolen bases in 94 games. He ranked in the top five among American League rookies in triples (2nd, six), stolen bases (tied-2nd), runs scored (4th, 44) and hits (5th, 75).

The fleet-footed outfielder became the first Tiger in the modern era (since 1918) to begin his career by hitting safely in six straight games, then got two hits and a stolen base in Game 1 of the AL Division Series. The last Tigers rookie to do that in his postseason debut was Matty McIntyre in 1908.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

More from Torii Hunter's introductory press conference


Didn't get enough Torii Hunter quotes from Friday's press conference? Here are some more tidbits that didn't make the original story of the pursuit and signing of the free agent:

ON MIKE ILITCH:"This guy has a lot of fire. I flew here Tuesday and I went into his office. He just greeted me with a big smile and he was talking about, ‘When you came here, you played against us with fire, and that’s what we need, fire.’ And just looking at him, talking to him, I could tell that he really wants to win that World Series. I’ve been playing major league baseball for 14 years now, 14 seasons, and I see that same fire. I could look at him and feel it, because I’m searching for the same thing. I really want to win the World Series. He’s given me that great opportunity to win the World Series with the Detroit Tigers in 2013, and I want to say thank-you, Mr. I."

ON WINNING A WORLD SERIES TO COMPLETE HIS CAREER:“For me, it’s not complete. If we don’t get to the World Series, no, it’s not a success because I’ve been that guy for seven years in the postseason. I lost. So I don’t want to lose anymore and I know I’ve got a really good chance over here. Other teams I saw, they had a chance to win but I don’t think they were going to win the World Series. That’s why I chose here and I was being proactive and I came to shake hands. I wanted to be a Tiger.”
...
“That’s definitely the hole. You could say the Gold Gloves, the All-Stars, whatever it may be but it’s not complete. Nothing’s going to be more gratifying and satisfying until I win that World Series. All that stuff, I don’t feel complete. So I know what’s going to make me complete is winning a World Series and I think the Tigers give me a better chance of winning a World Series. I know Mr. I wants to win one.”

ON WINNING A WORLD SERIES FOR ILITCH:"Just watching these guys, the last couple years — I was here in those Minnesota days, when I was with Minnesota, and I’d come here, we had those battles. I was here when they had to go home-grown, most of these guys were home-grown, and they wasn’t doing too well. Mr. I has just changed this whole organization, the face of it, the last seven, eight years.
"When I came to talk to him Tuesday, just shaking his hand, and saw the fire in his eyes, and all we talked about was winning, that encouraged me. Because everybody knows I want to win.
"I’ve been to the playoffs several times and lost, so I really want to win a World Series before I get out of here. This is my last stand, you know? One more push, and I’m all in. Just to hear him talk, he fired me up, and that’s why I came over here, because this organization is definitely about winning. And that’s all I care about.
...
“That guy is funny. Mr. I, you guys have something special here. I heard about him for so many years and I got a chance to really meet him and sit down and talk to him. He has a great personality, good character man, and he’s very down to earth and I like that about him.”
...
“For me, just to hear him (Mr. I) talk about the desire to win. He’s just fired up about it. He really wants me to come play because he saw me on the other side, I had so much fire. I would take out the shortstop, run down the line, I would dive for balls, run into the wall, he saw all that. He said, ‘That’s what kind of fire we need.’ Hopefully I can bring that to the ball club. Not saying that none of the guys here have fire, they do have fire, but I want to bring something different and see if that works.”

ON VISITING THE TIGERS:"They were sitting down at the table and I told him (Dave Dombrowski) to his face, ‘I want to be a Tiger. I want to win a World Series. I know this is the team I want to be with. Let’s get it done today.’ I mean, I don’t want to sit around and just wait. I really wanted to get something done that day. I know what team I wanted to play for, and he saw it in my eyes. And we just knocked it out right away. It wasn’t about being greedy or anything like that. We came with something that was fair for us, and I’m excited to be a Tiger. And thank you for allowing me to be that guy."

ON WHEN HE CHOSE THE TIGERS::Uh, during the season? I just watched you guys and the way you play the game and I look at that pitching that you guys have. ... I just looked at the ballclub. I was scouting clubs just in case the Angels didn’t sign me back. I knew they had contract restraints over there, so I knew that wasn’t going to happen. But I definitely was scouting. I saw this was the best team in baseball. The early start was just a funk. You always go through a little funk. The early start that the Tigers had, but you saw what they did going down the stretch. They really wanted to win, and every bit of talent that they had came out of them. So I just continued to watch those guys and I saw they might have a spot open over there. Larry, make a call.
"I know talent. That’s one thing over my years playing major league baseball, I know talent. I know what team wants to win, and I know what team is going to win. And I see the Tigers winning in 2013."

ON HOW MUCH OF AN IMPACT BEING CLOSE TO NOTRE DAME — WHERE TORII JR. WILL PLAY FOOTBALL AND BASEBALL — HAD ON THE DECISION:“Honestly, this is a perfect fit. You’re talking about playing in the Central again, a division I know about. I look at the Tigers and see the Tigers winning this division.” 
“And then when I got outside of baseball and look at my family situation … only 2 1/2-3 hours away from my son in South Bend. Not just talking about catching football games, but on a day off I can go out there and hang out with him for a day. We can have lunch, talk, or he can come here when he has time. It’s just a perfect marriage, a perfect fit, and I really think I can win my World Series here in 2013 and ‘14.”

ON BEING A LEADER:“For me, I try to lead by example. I don’t go around and be that rah, rah guy. I counsel guys. I sit one of my teammates down and fill them up with positive thoughts, positive sayings, try to lift them up. That’s what we should do as veteran players. Not sitting there in their locker quiet, not sharing all the wisdom that they have and not being fruitful. I want to give back to those guys and lift them up. Because if you lift your teammates up … as a veteran guy, I’m going to do what I do, for me not to lift my younger guys up, then who’s going to do that? That’s what helps a team win. Baseball is a negative game. Three out of 10 you’re a hero, three out of 10 at your job, you’re fired, three out of 10 in other sports, you’re probably released, three out of 10 in school, that’s an F. In baseball you’re succeeding, so I’m able to tell these guys, three out of 10 you’re a freaking hero. When I give them that, make them see it in a different light, that’s what helps a team.”

ON THE IMPACT KIRBY PUCKETT HAD ON HUNTER'S CAREER:"Man, he had a big part in it. Kirby Puckett was everything to me since I was 17 years old. I was in between Dave Winfield and Kirby Puckett, and I was that kid just like Mike Trout. I was that kid asking all the questions, and they were answering. I had to go to dinner with those guys, and they’d sit and talk to me about finances, about life, about family, about saving your money. And the one reason I live in Texas where there are no state taxes is because of Kirby Puckett. I mean, this guy was an inspiration. On the field, he taught me everything. Play like it’s your last day. You never know when this opportunity’s going to be gone. God blessed you with all this talent. Put it on the field, use it, so you can say, ‘Hey, I used all my talent that God blessed me with.’ Kirby Puckett was that guy. He taught me, ‘Don’t miss a hanging curveball. It’s a gift from God.’ So when I see a hanging curveball, I think Kirby Puckett. If I hit it out of the park, I’m like Kirby Puckett running around the bases. 
"Kirby was great for me, man. That’s where I get my aggressive style of play. If you saw Kirby, if he hits the ball right back to the pitcher, he’s running dead sprint. Me as a youngster, he as a veteran, I look up to him and I see the veteran guy running hard, going first to third, making plays, pumping the guys up, and at the same time treating everybody the same, whether it’s the veteran, whether it’s the rookie, the clubhouse guy, anybody, he shakes their hand, he has a conversation with them like he’s known them for 10,000 years. So Kirby, he definitely had a big influence on my life."

ON GETTING THE NO. 48 FROM RICK PORCELLO:"I called Rick Porcello, and I told him that I wanted to — you know, veteran guys usually give a nice dollar amount for a number. So I offered him a nice dollar amount. And he said, ‘No.’ I’m like, ‘What’s wrong with him?’ 
"Rick Porcello said you know what, he’s from New Jersey, and Hurricane Sandy came and destroyed some parts of New Jersey, and he knows some people that were effected by it. He said, ‘The money that you offered me, could you donate it to this organization for Hurricane Sandy?’ That’s the kind of guy Rick Porcello is. And he really gave me No. 48. I’m like, ‘Are you sure you don’t want anything? You’re OK?’ He’s like, ‘Yes, I’m straight.’ I think he’s No. 21 or something right now, and I think he’s getting a fresh start. I don’t know what his season went like last year, but sometimes mentally when you change things, it changes you. And I think Rick Porcello’s on the right track.
"Thank you, Rick. You the man."

ON WHO — FORMER TEAMMATE MIKE TROUT OR CURRENT TEAMMATE MIGUEL CABRERA — SHOULD HAVE WON AL MVP:“That’s a hot tamale, that question. I would like for both of those guys to win that.”
...
“That’s a hot tamale. I like Trout and I like Cabrera. Those two totally different players. But the last I checked, since we were kids, MVP was always for the winning side. You talk about Michael Jordan, he’s a winner, the MVP. You talk about when you’re a kid at school, you get an MVP, I’ve never seen a losing guy get MVP. It’s my take on it. I’m a Tiger now.”

ON WATCHING WORLD SERIES FROM AFAR:“No, I can’t relate because those guys went to the World Series. They’ve been there twice and they know what it feels like to win and get to the World Series. That’s winning. But to win it all, they’re just like me. They don’t know what it feels like. They’ve always watched it on the other side. You gotta understand, when you lose like that, there’s no failure, there’s no progress. These guys are hungry for it. Sitting in that dugout watching that Giants team jump up and down over there and me watching it on TV, I was upset and I’m pretty sure they were upset, extra upset. So next year you better believe they’re coming with a fire. They know from April 1, somewhere around there, April 1, these guys are going to be ready to win from day one to the end.”

ON THE CITY OF DETROIT:“I’ve been here several times. We stayed in Birmingham and Troy, we’d come into the city and I ate at Fishbones for years. For me, I seen growth, I seen the face of Detroit change. It looks better downtown, 10-15 years ago it was totally different. It’s a lot better but we still got some work to do. I want to give back to the community, get involved. If there’s investment opportunities out here I will get involved. We can always get better.”

ON JIM LEYLAND:“Funny old man (Leyland). He cracks me up, when I was with Minnesota and the Angels we talked to each other during batting practice, he would have me rolling. He would tell some kind of joke and I’d say, man, that dude is crazy, I want to play for him one day. So we’re here, we had lunch last Tuesday, we talked about life, about players, about baseball, about WAR, about numbers guys, the way the game is changing, he’s a very good man."

ON AL AVILA:Man, I did not know that (Alex Avila) was your son. That is unbelievable. Your son is one of the nicest catchers in the game. He tells me all the pitches that are coming. That was pretty impressive.














Thursday, November 8, 2012

Cabrera, Fielder win Silver Slugger Awards


Tigers sluggers Miguel Cabrera (third base) and Prince Fielder (first) won American League Silver Slugger Awards for their respective positions, it was announced Thursday night.

For Fielder, it’s the third time he’s been honored in his career, and his first in the AL.

For Cabrera, it’s the fourth time he’s won a Silver Slugger, second time as a third baseman (2006, Marlins). He also won one as an outfielder in 2005.

While Cabrera is the first Tigers third baseman to win a Silver Slugger since Dean Palmer in 1999, Fielder is the first Tigers first baseman to win one since ... well, Miggy in 2010.

To keep up-to-date on all the awards reeled in by Tigers players this offseason, CLICK HERE.

Miguel Cabrera named 2012 Tiger of the Year


By a unanimous vote of the Detroit Chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, Miguel Cabrera was named the 2012 Tiger of the Year.

It's the third time he's been honored with the award (2008, 2010), making him the third Tigers player to win it three times, joining Alan Trammell (1980, '87, '88) and Cecil Fielder (1990, '91, '92).

The first winner of the Triple Crown in 45 years, Cabrera has already been named the Sporting News' Player of the Year, Player of the Year and American League Outstanding Player in the Players Choice Awards, and the AL Hank Aaron Award recipient. Earlier this week was named as one of five finalists for the BBWAA's AL Most Valuable Player award, the winner of which will be announced on Thursday, Nov. 15.

For a full list of all the awards garnered by Tigers players this offseason, CLICK HERE.

Previous winners:
1965 – Don Wert
1966 – Al Kaline
1967 – Bill Freehan
1968 – Denny McLain
1969 – Denny McLain
1970 – Tom Timmerman
1971 – Mickey Lolich
1972 – Ed Brinkman
1973 – John Hiller
1974 – Al Kaline
1975 – Willie Horton
1976 – Mark Fidrych
1977 – Ron LeFlore
1978 – Ron LeFlore
1979 – Steve Kemp
1980 – Alan Trammell
1981 – Kirk Gibson
1982 – Lance Parrish
1983 – Lou Whitaker
1984 – Willie Hernandez
1985 – Darrell Evans
1986 – Jack Morris
1987 – Alan Trammell
1988 – Alan Trammell
1989 – Lou Whitaker
1990 – Cecil Fielder 
1991 – Cecil Fielder 
1992 – Cecil Fielder 
1993 – Tony Phillips 
1994 – Kirk Gibson 
1995 – Travis Fryman
1996 – Travis Fryman 
1997 – Tony Clark and Bobby Higginson (tie) 
1998 – Damion Easley 
1999 – Dean Palmer 
2000 – Bobby Higginson
2001 – Steve Sparks
2002 – Randall Simon 
2003 – Dmitri Young 
2004 – Ivan Rodriguez 
2005 – Placido Polanco
2006 – Carlos Guillen 
2007 – Magglio Ordonez 
2008 – Miguel Cabrera
2009 – Justin Verlander 
2010 – Miguel Cabrera
2011 – Justin Verlander
2012 – Miguel Cabrera 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Verlander, Cabrera named finalists for Cy Young, MVP


In order to stretch the awards season out a bit (or build the drama; take your pick), the Baseball Writers' Association of America announced the finalists for the organization's major awards on Wednesday.

Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander, the reigning American League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young winner, was named one of three finalists for the AL Cy Young, joining Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim's Jered Weaver and Tampa Bay's David Price.

Verlander's teammate Miguel Cabrera is one of the favorites to replace him as AL MVP, joining a field of five finalists: LAA's Mike Trout, New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano and Texas teammates Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre.

The Cy Young announcement will come Wednesday, Nov. 14, while the MVP will be unveiled on Thursday, Nov. 15. Both announcements will be made on live television for the first time — as will the earlier revelations of Manager of the Year and Rookie of the Year — on MLB Network. Each day's announcement show will begin at 6 p.m.

To see a full list of all the finalists for all eight major awards, CLICK HERE.

To see a full list of all the awards already reeled in by Tigers players this offseason, CLICK HERE.

Delmon Young accepts responsibility for actions in statement


Here is a statement released by his attorney, Daniel J. Ollen:

"Delmon accepted responsibility today for his actions. He is sorry for what he did and is committed to living a law abiding life.
"He must complete 10 days of community service and a one-day program at the Museum of Tolerance in New York City. In six months' time, the charges against Delmon will be vacated and he will plead guilty to a the violation of harassment, which under New York law is not a crime."

Young had already accepted responsibility for the incident upon returning to the Tigers in early May, after serving an MLB-imposed suspension.

In a similar statement, issued later through Ollen, by way of Young's agents:

“Delmon clearly regrets what happened and took the necessary steps to put this issue behind him today. He has learned from this experience and will continue to do everything he can to improve himself as a person and player. He has agreed to complete 10 days of community service and a one day program at the Museum of Tolerance in New York City as part of this process and, in six months’ time, the charges against Delmon will be vacated and reduced to a simple violation of harassment, which is not a crime under New York Law.”

Monday, November 5, 2012

Miggy keeps Players Choice Player of the Year award in the 'D'


Well, the Tigers kept one major award in the “D.”

In line with Justin Verlander’s campaign to “Keep the MVP in the D,” Miguel Cabrera made a similar sweep as his teammate had a year earlier, cleaning up in the Players Choice Awards announced Monday night, earning Player of the Year.

Cabrera was also voted by his peers as the American League Outstanding Player for 2012.

Verlander was the Player of the Year, as well as AL Outstanding Pitcher in 2011.

“It’s unbelievable. I never thought I would be in this position. I got lucky. Very lucky,” said Cabrera, who was on hand in the studio for the live broadcast of the awards show on MLB Network. “I think it’s all because I have good teammates.”

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim outfielder Mike Trout and Texas third baseman Adrian Beltre were the other finalists for the AL Outstanding Player award.

Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen won the Outstanding Player honors in the National League, and was one of three finalists for Player of the Year, along with Cabrera and Trout.

The first Triple Crown winner since Carl Yastrzemski, Cabrera led the AL in hitting, and all of the big leagues in RBI and home runs.

The Tigers’ third baseman had previously won the Sporting News’ Player of the Year award, as well as the AL Hank Aaron award, given to the top offensive performer in each league.

Cabrera and Trout are considered the main contenders for the AL Most Valuable Player, which will be announced by the Baseball Writers’ Association of American on Thursday, Nov. 15.

“I got opportunity to play with great players, Hall of Fame. Last year, Victor is behind me,” said Cabrera, who admitted he got even better pitches this year, with Prince Fielder — who Miggy jokingly tabbed to be the 2013 Triple Crown winner — hitting behind him. “I say it’s better to be lucky than good. This year was big-time lucky.”

It didn’t start out that way, with Cabrera moving to third base, and taking a wicked liner off the face in Spring Training, one that could have been even more damaging than just a bloody gash, if not for Cabrera’s sunglasses.

“I think it give me good vision, because I hit better this year,” Cabrera joked, calling the transition to third “a lot of work.”

His performance was a large reason the Tigers even made the playoffs, allowing them the platform to make the run all the way to the World Series, where they were swept by the San Francisco Giants.

“I think Mr. (Mike) Ilitch, and (team president/GM) Dave Dombrowski build a team to win divisions, and win championships,” Cabrera told the hosts on MLB Network. “Hopefully, next year, we can get better, do a better job in the World Series, and be champs.”

Chipper Jones won the Marvin Miller Man of the Year honoree. Cincinnati’s Todd Frazier (NL) and Trout (AL) were the Outstanding Rookies. White Sox slugger Adam Dunn (AL) and San Francisco’s Buster Posey (NL) were the Comeback Players of the Year, while the Mets’ R.A. Dickey (NL) and Tampa’s David Price (AL) were the Outstanding Pitchers.

For the two awards, the MLB Players Association will make donations totaling $70,000 to the charity of Cabrera’s choice. He chose his own Miguel Cabrera Foundation.

Email Matthew B. Mowery at matt.mowery@oakpress.com and follow him on Twitter @matthewbmowery. Text keyword “Tigers” to 22700 to get updates sent to your phone. Msg & data rates may apply. Text HELP for help. Text STOP to cancel

DFM looks at the top available MLB free agents


Who are the top free agents in Major League Baseball this offseason? Digital First Media's Jeremy Binckes (@jbinckes on Twitter) takes a quick look.




Sunday, November 4, 2012

Tigers would love to re-sign Sanchez, but know he'll be a hot FA commodity



DETROIT — No bones about it.

Anibal Sanchez talked repeatedly and often about how he’d hoped he would get a chance to land with a contender, and finally get a taste of the playoffs, and how excited he was to get it with the Detroit Tigers, who’d traded for him.

He called his first opportunity of the postseason, a start in Game 3 of the American League Division Series, a “chance of a lifetime.”

And then he got to start Game 2 of the AL Championship Series, as well as Game 3 of the World Series.

After a slow start with the Tigers, Sanchez was everything the Tigers hoped for when they traded for he and second baseman Omar Infante at the trade deadline.

“I don’t think we’d have been playing in the World Series without Sanchez and Infante on our team,” said the man who swung the trade, Tigers president and GM Dave Dombrowski, when looking back at the impact of the trade.

And it was everything Sanchez had wanted, too.

Obviously, it worked out well for both sides, player and team. Everyone got what they bargained for.

Now, Sanchez gets another opportunity of a lifetime: free agency.

On the heels of his stellar finish with the Tigers — a 2.15 ERA and a shutout in his final eight starts of the regular season, and a 1.77 postseason ERA — he’s in line for a big payday in his first foray into the free market.

It’s something he’s eagerly anticipated, too, even though he tried not to dwell upon the thought too much before the end of the season.

“You know what, I’m the person that thinks day‑by‑day. I don’t try to be ahead on anything. Right now I just focus on what I’m going to do tomorrow. The free agent I know is coming, but that’s my agent’s job,” Sanchez said during the playoffs. “That’s why I have an agent. Right now I focus on tomorrow. I don’t think too much what’s going to happen after that. The only thing I take care is I want to finish my postseason out.”

He can’t say that he never thought about it, though.

It was something he knew might impact whether or not he stayed in his adopted home town of Miami. As it turned out, he ended up being part of the Marlins’ midseason purge after they’d spent a ton of money in the offseason to assemble a contender.

“At this point I understand that’s part of the business, even this year. This year I know my free agents is coming. I was talking with my wife (Ana) and our situation. She was pregnant I prepare for it in Spring Training and say, hey, this can happen,” Sanchez said. “That’s part of the game, part of the business. And when you are going to be a free agent, some teams are going to make some move for you or they might sign you. So we have to get ready for trade (dead)line.”

Now, there’s another part of the business to attend to.

He and his agents from SFX Baseball — the same group that represents both Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera — will be fielding offers from around baseball for Sanchez’s services. He’s widely regarded as the second-best free agent starting pitcher available, behind Zack Greinke. Estimates for the cost of signing Sanchez range anywhere from an average of $12 million per year to somewhere in the vicinity of the $15.5 million per year that C.J. Wilson garnered last offseason.

What it won’t cost the signing team is a draft pick, though.

Under the new free agent compensation system, a team that signs Sanchez won’t have to surrender a selection in next year’s draft. Compensation does not apply to a free agent that did not spend the entirety of the previous season with one team.

While the Tigers feel satisfied they’d gotten value for the trade, they’d certainly like to bring Sanchez back if at all possible.

“I know it’s not going to be an easy pursuit by any means. I’d love to have Anibal Sanchez back if we could,” Dombrowski said.

But the GM doesn’t think the Tigers will have any special “in” because they traded for him last season.

“Do I think it helps that we had Sanchez? My answer would be yes but I’m also practical enough to know that in other ways, no, because when you get to this point, probably offers being equal, it helps you. Offers that blow you away, it doesn’t really make much difference and really what ends up happening is you’ve been through this process before, it’s the player’s right, they can do what they want, you thank them for what they did and if they get an offer that you think, hey, how can you turn it down? You wish them well,” Dombrowski said. “I’m not sure where it’s going to lead with him but I do know that he’s a very sought-after guy and people have to make their decisions on what they’re going to do.”

Manager Jim Leyland — who had gotten what he wanted, a veteran pitcher at the deadline, even more than he desired fixing the revolving door at second base — agreed that there may not be much the Tigers can do if teams start throwing money at Sanchez.

“He’s out on the open market, so God only knows how that will play out. It all sounds good, he likes it here, he wants to come back,” the manager said. “Usually those pictures of dead presidents have something to do with that.”

Getting out-bid for Sanchez wouldn’t necessarily cause the Tigers to turn to other free-agent options, though.

“You’re open-minded to it but it would have to be a substantial (upgrade) — we just don’t need a person. It would have to be somebody who we thought of as a substantial improvement for us. We look at Sanchez would make us appreciably better, but we’re very comfortable with (Rick) Porcello and (Drew) Smyly. It’s like last year we looked at some different alternatives and went through where we could address ourselves and make us significantly better at a spot,” Dombrowski said. “But if we went in with those three guys and Porcello and Smyly, and they were healthy, I would feel very comfortable with our starting rotation.”

If the Tigers do miss out on Sanchez, they’ll just have to revert to essentially the same rotation they started last year with: Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, Porcello and Smyly.

Should Sanchez return, either Porcello or Smyly would be expendable, at least for the big-league club. Both ended up in the bullpen in the playoffs, but the Tigers don’t see either as relievers for the long term.

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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Tigers retain McClendon, add Fields as minor league hitting coordinator

(The Associated Press file photo) Bruce Fields (right), the Tigers' former hitting coach (2003-05), returned to the organization Thursday as its minor league hitting coordinator. 

The Tigers retained one coach and regained one for the organization on Thursday.

Lloyd McClendon, who interviewed for the Miami Marlins managerial position, did not get the job, meaning he'll be sticking around with the Tigers.

And the organization brought back former player and hitting coach Bruce Fields, naming him minor league hitting coordinator, replacing Toby Harrah, who'd been added to the Tigers' big-league staff midseason in 2012.

Most recently the hitting coach for the Cleveland Indians, Fields — originally drafted by the Tigers in 1978 — spent 13 seasons coaching in the Tigers' system, eight of them as manager of one of the minor league squads. He was the manager of the Single-A West Michigan Whitecaps (1997-2000) and Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens (2001-02) before joining Alan Trammell's staff with the Tigers, as hitting coach (2003-05). He traded positions with bench coach Kirk Gibson partway through the 2005 season, before Trammell's staff was replaced by Jim Leyland's in 2006.

He was named the Tigers Player Development Man of the Year in 1998, after leading the Whitecaps to the Midwest League Championship, and MWL Manager of the Year in 2000. His younger son, Daniel, is an outfield prospect in the Tigers system, spending time at Class A Lakeland and Double-A Erie.