Tag:Detroit Tigers
Posted on: June 3, 2010 8:26 pm
 

A few final thoughts on the travesty in Detroit

Let's start with this: If you have not heard umpire Jim Joyce's agony in the aftermath of his blown call to rob Detroit's Armando Galarraga of a perfect game Wednesday night, you owe it to yourself to listen. Especially if you're hopping mad, looking for somebody to slug and your blood pressure is through the roof:

Listen to Jim Joyce here.

And if some of your hardness doesn't begin to melt just a little after listening, then I imagine you've never made a mistake in your life. It's darn tough not to feel for the man.

Meantime, with the wreckage still smoldering in Detroit, the important thing now is to figure out what lessons can be learned.

Me, I see several (besides baseball needing to look seriously at implementing more replay and better umpires).

I see Galarraga offering an incredible example of class and sportsmanship. "Nobody's perfect," he said Wednesday night. Imagine! This from a 28-year-old man immediately after he <em>was</em> perfect. From a man who is fighting for a permanent spot on Detroit's roster -- he was recently recalled from Triple-A Toledo.

I see Joyce, heartsick and temporarily broken, offering a gut-wrenching apology and exemplifying courage at its finest. Awful day at the office, yes. We all have those. But not all of us are strong enough to shoulder a colossal mistake. Not only did he seek Galarraga out to apologize after he viewed the replay on Wednesday night, he worked the plate for Thursday's series finale, shrugging off baseball's offer to take a sabbatical. And Cleveland manager Manny Acta afterward said Joyce had a great game.

I see class from the Tigers and manager Jim Leyland, who said before the game, "This is not a day to boo a bad call. This is a day to cheer integrity." And: "This is a day for Detroit to shine."

I saw Detroit shine when some of the 28,169 fans in Comerica Park applauded the umpires when they took the field, causing Joyce, a jangle of raw emotions, to cry.

It's terrible the way this all went down. But I'll tell you this: If not for the class of Galarraga, Joyce, Leyland and others, this could have been a whole lot uglier. In a bad situation, they all took the high road and, maybe, made us all think a little bit and re-examine a little bit of ourselves.

For that, baseball owes all of them a debt of gratitude.

Likes: June and San Diego, Texas, Cincinnati and Atlanta are in first place with Oakland lurking nearby. Can never get enough Cinderella stories. ... The Braves are making Bobby Cox proud. ... Glad to hear Ken Griffey Jr. is going to be working for the Mariners sometime soon. The only thing worse than when a superstar's career ends is when he disappears completely. Good for the game when they stay around and remain visible. ... Radical changes to Friday Night Lights as the fourth season is underway (for those of us who don't have DirecTV), and the show continues to crackle with great writing and superb acting.

Dislikes: Too bad Ken Griffey Jr.'s retirement was overshadowed by the non-perfect game fallout. I mean, the Commissioner's Office wound up releasing a statement on the Detroit brouhaha Thursday before it issued a statement congratulating Griffey for a great career. ... Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow lobbying Thursday for baseball to reverse umpire Jim Joyce's blown call and award Armando Galarraga the perfect game he lost. How about you two politicians concentrate on Michigan's future and lowering that unemployment rate?

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Yesterday's over my shoulder
"So I can't look back for too long
"There's just too much to see waiting in front of me
"And I know that I just can't go wrong"

-- Jimmy Buffett, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes

 

Posted on: April 27, 2010 8:24 pm
 

Willis and Pierre: The path of friendship

Juan Pierre is godfather to both of Dontrelle Willis' daughters, little Adrianna Rose (3) and Bianca (1), giving the White Sox outfielder and the Detroit pitcher one more common bond in a couple of careers that have followed strangely (and intriguingly) similar arcs.

Best buddies from their early days in the Florida organization, both Pierre and Willis emerged as key figures in the Marlins' 2003 World Series championship run, had varying degrees of success afterward ... and then each man, for different reasons, hit the skids over the past two seasons before getting a renewed chance this year.

Like many of us at various times in our careers, their jobs turned sour and their strength of character was severely tested.

Except, well ... with Willis now in the final season of a three-year, $29 million deal and Pierre in the fourth season of a five-year, $44 million contract, maybe their challenges are a little different than those of most working stiffs.

"Come on, is it really that tough?" Willis asks of the challenges he and his buddy have faced over the past couple of years. "Really, in the grand scheme of things?"

Unlike a lot of guys, the affable Willis gets an 'A' for his perspective.

Yet, even that doesn't fully take away the sting when a guy can't -- or isn't -- performing.

Pierre, who had played in all 162 games over five consecutive seasons, became the odd-man out of the Dodgers' outfield in 2008 when they acquired Manny Ramirez.

Willis, who had been traded to Detroit, suddenly couldn't throw strikes for the Tigers in 2008.

Pierre could have sulked and demanded a trade when Manny took his playing time. And while he did have his moments of moodiness as a fourth outfielder in '08, he came to camp in '09 determined to make the best of the situation -- and this positive attitude aided in making Pierre hugely instrumental in sparking the Dodgers to first place in the NL West when Ramirez was suspended for 50 games for a dirty performance-enhancing drug test.

Willis was so bad for Detroit over the past couple of seasons that he landed on the disabled list twice in 2009 -- for something called "anxiety disorder."

Yet each man persevered and is hoping in 2010 to come out the other side. Willis opened the season in the Tigers' rotation. Pierre is in the White Sox outfield after Dodgers' general manager Ned Colletti, in a class move, kept his promise to try and find a spot for Pierre where his playing time would increase.

"We hit it off because we have the same personality," Willis says. "We get to the field early, we work, we expect a lot of ourselves.

"Sometimes things are a blessing in disguise. We handled [the tough times over the past two years] with class. And now there is a situation for both of us where we're both turning it around.

"I don't think Juan would be in that situation if he didn't stay focused. It's made me proud. It's a testament to what kind of man he is and what kind of teammate he was."

Pierre, playing left field, is off to a slow start in Chicago, hitting .222 with a .282 on-base percentage. He does have nine steals in 18 games.

Willis, 0-1 with a 5.00 ERA in four appearances (three starts), like Pierre, impressed teammates last year with his upbeat attitude despite tough personal times.

"We're not here to rock the boat," Willis says of he and his buddy Pierre. "We want to get along. Our work ethic speaks for itself. To give your best effort, that's all you can ask for whether you're a player, a writer, whatever."

Both within and outside of their own clubhouses, it's not difficult to find people rooting for both Willis and Pierre, so much so that yes, Willis says, he often feels the love.

"I appreciate it," Willis says. "I wasn't down when I was struggling. Everything was fine at home. Just because I was struggling doesn't mean everything was going bad. My family is good.

"It's one of those things where when you struggle, people think everything is wrong in your life. And it's not. I told Skip [manager Jim Leyland], 'Thanks for the opportunity.'

"I really like my teammates, this coaching staff, and the city of Detroit. I'm from Oakland, and Detroit is similar. I do feel a lot of people pulling for me, and I really appreciate it. And I think Juan is the same.

"We're really thankful."

Likes:  Sure is going to be entertaining watching the near-future gyrations of the agents for Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Adrian Gonzalez after Ryan Howard signed his five-year, $125 million extension. ... This hilarious item in The Onion the other day: True Yankees, Regular Yankees to Now Wear Different Uniforms. Among the beauties in the story: "To have Javier Vazquez don the same pinstripes as Mariano Rivera or Jorge Posada is…well, it's unthinkable," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said as Curtis Granderson modeled the sterile, black-and-white uniform with a large, boxy, non-interlocking "NY" stitched across the front of the chest. ... Really enjoyed Adventureland, a film about a high school graduate having to forego dreams of a European trip before starting at an Ivy League school when his parents have a financial setback, leaving him to a summer job at a Pittsburgh-area amusement park in 1987. Lots of funny (and painful) stuff. James Brennan and Kristen Stewart are terrific. It's out on DVD now and definitely worth catching.

Dislikes: The one television show my wife loves that will drive me out of the room every time: Glee.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Me and some guys from school
"Had a band and we tried real hard
"Jimmy quit and Jody got married
"I shoulda known we'd never get far
"Oh when I look back now
"That summer seemed to last forever
"And if I had the choice
"Yeah, I'd always wanna be there
"Those were the best days of my life"

-- Bryan Adams, Summer of '69

 

Posted on: April 23, 2010 12:28 am
 

Tigers' Guillen hurt in Anaheim

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Detroit left fielder Carlos Guillen, who has been plagued by injuries over the past two seasons, left Thursday night's game here in the fifth inning with a left hamstring strain. There was no immediate word on whether the injury would land him on the disabled list.

Guillen, 34, was injured while rounding third on Scott Sizemore's single up the middle in the fifth inning. After initially pulling up, he tried to resume running but was no match for the throw that easily nailed him at the plate.

In a Tigers' lineup that has had difficulty getting its footing in the early part of the season, Guillen was hitting .311 with one homer and six RBI. He singled and doubled in three at-bats in Thursday night's game.

Guillen missed half of 2009 because of right shoulder inflammation. In 81 games during a tough season, he hit .242 with 11 homers and 41 RBI.

In 2008, he played in only 113 games, missing the final 31 games because of back spasms. That year, he hit .286 with 10 homers and 54 RBI.

Category: MLB
Posted on: April 22, 2010 12:29 am
 

Even the schedule working against Orioles

Baltimore's epically horrible start (2-14 following Wednesday's loss in Seattle) is the perfect storm of a whole lot of things going wrong, from bullpen meltdowns to miserable situational hitting, but the Orioles aren't getting any breaks from the schedule-maker, either.

That the Orioles knew this spring that they would start off with as rugged a schedule as anybody in baseball is no consolation as they plow through their worst start since the 0-21 beginning in 1988.

The O's are in the midst of playing 18 of their first 28 games against the Yankees, Red Sox and Tampa Bay. And of those other 10 games, seven consist of a West Coast trip to Oakland and Seattle (which ended Wednesday night against the Mariners' Felix Hernandez).

That finished, the Orioles open a series in Boston on Friday, entering a stretch in which they'll face the Red Sox and Yankees 12 consecutive times. After that, it's off to contending Minnesota for four games before finally hitting the first "soft" part of their schedule: And eight-game homestand against Seattle, Cleveland and Kansas City beginning May 11.

Meantime, Baltimore's struggling AL East rival, Boston, is in as friendly a part of the schedule as a team could want: The Red Sox are in the midst of playing 20 of 26 games in Fenway Park, where Boston went 56-25 last season.

The Sox opened a 10-game homestand Friday against Tampa Bay, and following a trip to Toronto and Baltimore, they open another 10-game homestand May 3 against the Angels.

At 6-9 and fourth in the AL East, the Red Sox will not have a better time to turn things around.

A couple of other early scheduling observations:

-- The Angels will make a whopping six different cross-country trips this summer to the East Coast. They were in New York to face the Yankees in April, they'll be in Boston in May, New York again in July, Baltimore in August and Tampa Bay in September. June is the only month in which the Angels do not head for the East Coast. Hmmm, think manager Mike Scioscia made someone angry when he complained about the playoff schedule last October? The Angels will fly 50,509 air miles this season, a major-league high.

-- When San Francisco started 7-2, the thought was that we would find out whether the Giants were for real very soon (though getting swept in San Diego this week didn't figure to be one of the crucial test cases): Beginning in Los Angeles against the Dodgers last Friday, the Giants were to face five contenders in six series': The Dodgers, St. Louis (which arrives in San Francisco on Friday to open a weekend series), Philadelphia, Colorado and Florida.

-- The Twins, who hosted the Red Sox for three games last week, play just twice in Boston this season. Minnesota and Boston are finished with each other for 2010 on May 20.

-- Detroit plays the Mets in New York (June 22-24) before facing the Yankees in New York (Aug. 16-19).

Likes: Austin Jackson, Detroit's good-looking rookie center fielder. ... How about Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes in Oakland on Wednesday night, no-hitting the A's until Eric Chavez's sharp single that bounced off of Hughes to start the inning. ... Never a dull moment talking baseball in Detroit manager Jim Leyland's office. ... I applaud Carlos Zambrano's willingness to do anything to help the Cubs, but a temp job as a set-up man? Yikes.

Dislikes: The plight of the independent record stores, which are shrinking as badly as the independent bookstores and, sadly, are probably headed the way of the independent grocery stores and pharmacies. I applauded Independent Record Store Day last Saturday, but when I visited one of my favorites, Lou's Records in Encinitas, Calif., the other day, it was discouraging. They didn't have the Drive-By Truckers' newest CD (The Big To-Do), which makes about the fourth consecutive trip where they were out of what I was looking for. Worse, they're consolidating inventory into one building (it's a funky little place that currently consists of two small buildings, with used CDs in one and new in the other). Which obviously means less stuff. A clerk told me sales have been down 80 percent.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"People get ready, there's a train a comin'
You don't need no baggage, you just get on board
All you need is faith to hear the diesels hummin'
Don't need no ticket, you just thank the Lord

-- Curtis Mayfield, People Get Ready

Posted on: April 5, 2010 12:37 pm
Edited on: April 5, 2010 4:08 pm
 

Beckett: Four more years (in Boston)

Fresh from their Opening Night pounding of the dreaded Yankees, the Red Sox this afternoon formally will announce a contract extension for ace Josh Beckett, $68 million over four years.

As colleague Danny Knobler chuckled when we talked not long ago, not bad for a pitcher with a 9.64 ERA. That's where Beckett's stands now after the Yankees clubbed him for five earned runs in 4 2/3 innings Sunday night.

In all seriousness, though, the larger meaning of this beyond New England's boundaries is that it continues to emphasize the most important thing in today's game: You'd better build your team with young pitching, because less and less of it is available on the free agent market. At least, fewer impact pitchers are getting out there.

Beckett and Roy Halladay each was supposed to be a free agent next winter. Not now: The Sox have locked up Beckett, and the Phillies over the winter acquired Halladay from Toronto then signed him to a three-year, $60 million deal.

Two other key pitchers had their free agency delayed over the past several months, too, with Detroit signing Justin Verlander to a five-year, $80 million extension and Seattle signing ace Felix Hernandez to a five-year, $78 million deal in January.

Posted on: April 5, 2010 12:24 pm
Edited on: April 5, 2010 4:09 pm
 

Opening Day: Ceremonial first blog pitch

Welcome to the last day of the best sports weekend of the year: Opening Day, and Final Four weekend. And yes, we count the Monday of the NCAA championship game and 13 baseball openers as part of the weekend.

If you haven't called in sick today, I have just one question: What's wrong with you?

While we count down to the Butler game (yes, it's the Butler game, not the Duke game, and I'll get to them in a separate blog in a little while), colleague Danny Knobler and I will be blogging throughout the day, sending quick hits regarding today's 13 openers. So check back often.

A couple of quick opening thoughts heading in:

-- Coolest moment: President Obama set to throw out the first pitch before today's Philadelphia-Washington game in D.C. I don't care whether you're Democrat, Republican, Independent, Libertarian or a leftover reguee from the Whig party. You don't see presidents dropping the first puck, making the first handoff or tossing up the first jump ball. Just one more reason why baseball remains the best and most important sport going.

-- Best pitching matchup: Tough to beat the Detroit-Kansas City game at 4 EDT, when Tigers ace Justin Verlander goes against AL Cy Young winner Zack Greinke.

-- Most interesting home debut: Let's see what kind of ovation Atlanta right-fielder Jason Heyward gets when the Braves open against the Cubs this afternoon. I'm guessing it will range somewhere from raucous to exceptionally raucous.

-- Most interesting road debut: OK, so we never notice hitting coaches unless one of our favorite players delves into a slump. But when the Cardinals open in Cincinnati today, and they introduce the teams pre-game, let's just see what kind of reaction St. Louis hitting coach Mark McGwire gets as things begin again for real for him.

-- We're still unwrapping the season and: The Red Sox and Yankees already checked in with their first sub-4 hour game! They played Sunday night's opener in 3:46. Now the raging question becomes, can they do it again?

-- Opening day boos to: The Angels and the A's. Two things I know about Opening Day: It should always be a day game, and clubs should never schedule it opposite the NCAA title game. What, you think your fans don't want to watch the basketball championship? Why not just schedule an afternoon game?

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"The Cubs made me a criminal
"Sent me down a wayward path
"They stole my youth from me
"That's the truth
"I'd forsake my teachers
"To go sit in the bleachers
"In flagarant truancy
"And then one thing led to another
"I discovered alcohol, gambling and dope
"Football, hockey, lacrosse, tennis
"What did you expect?
"When you raise a young boy's hopes
"And then just crush 'em
"Like so many paper beer cups
"Year after year after year"

-- Steve Goodman, A Dying Cubs Fan's Last Request

Posted on: February 27, 2010 6:59 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2010 7:04 pm
 

Tigers' rotation dominates Leyland's thoughts

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Detroit Tigers expect to start two rookies with a combined zero games in the majors (center fielder Austin Jackson and second baseman Scott Sizemore), a third baseman who had surgery on both knees over the winter (Brandon Inge) and a shortstop duo (Adam Everett and Ramon Santiago) whom manager Jim Leyland will be thrilled with if it can produced 80 RBIs between them again.

Yet what's dominating the skipper's mind right about now?

The Tigers' rotation.

"The No. 1 thing I'm thinking about right now," Leyland said, adding, "It's not Austin Jackson or Scott Sizemore.

"The No. 1 thing is how the rotation will play out. That's a huge key."

Though Leyland shies away from discussing specifics out of respect for the pitchers and the process (plus, who knows whether they all stay healthy), the Tigers appear to have three rotatoin spots spoken for -- including by the newly acquired Max Scherzer (from Arizona) -- with the remaining two wide open.

The rotation starts, of course, with ace Justin Verlander, proud owner of a new five-year, $80 million deal.

Rick Porcello, the 21-year-old fireballer who won 14 games last summer, is in there.

Scherzer, 25, who was 9-11 with a 4.12 ERA in 30 starts for the Diamondbacks, should be starter No. 3.

After that?

"There are four guys for sure that have got credibility, if you want to throw [Eddie] Bonine in that mix."

That means Leyland and pitching coach Rick Knapp this spring will be looking hard at Jeremy Bonderman, 27, who so far is looking strong after missing nearly two seasons following circulatory surgery; Nate Robertson, 32, who spent most of last season in the bullpen and underwent elbow surgery in June; Armando Galarraga, 28, who won 13 games in 2008 but crash-landed back here on earth in '09 (6-10, and his ERA shot up nearly two runs, to 5.64 from 3.73); Dontrelle Willis, 28, whom Leyland says looks much better in these early days of spring; and Bonine, 29, who has started nine games over the past two seasons.

"At some point we have to make decisions," Leyland says. "But we're not even close to that point yet. ... I'm kind of anxious to see how it's going to play out."

********

The weather continues to frown on spring training. Here in Lakeland, it rained all morning and the thermometer stubbornly remained stuck on 49 degrees. Brrrr.

The Tigers did most of their work indoors.

"We actually got some things accomplished," Leyland said. "We went over signs, signs with the catcher and signs with all the players. You try to improvise a little bit to make sure you get something accomplished, so we did that.

"There's nothing else you can do about Mother Nature. The weather that I got for the next week doesn't look very warm, but it doesn't show rain. So if it's 55, 60 and not raining, we're fine." ...

"It's a little aggravating, to be honest with you, but there's nothing you can do about it."

Sunblock Day? Absolutely, positively not. In fact, Saturday was the worst of all down here. Steady rain all morning and a high of 49 degrees in Lakeland. I know you're probably buried in snow somewhere and rain and 49 looks good to you, but it's still ridiculous. Worst waste of money I've made so far this spring, in fact, has been popping for a bottle of sunblock. You can add Florida to your overrated list (at least, speaking in the present tense).

Likes: Get well soon, Bob Gebhard. Arizona's assistant general manager had a mild heart attack the other day and, fortunately, is recovering well. ... Great Jimmy Buffett show in Orlando on Thursday. Excellent diversion from spring training. Any time he digs into his past to play Door No. 3, as well as My Head Hurts, My Feet Stink and I Don't Love Jesus and Last Mango in Paris, and anytime he plays the very underrated Window to the World (from the terrific disc License to Chill) and Bob Marley's One Love, it's a great show. ... Christopher Plummer and Helen Mirren are outstanding in The Last Station. Really good. ... Good crawfish etouffee at Harry's in Lakeland the other day. And if you're wondering about crawfish, don't even ask about colleague Danny Knobler. Last I talked to him, he had eaten goat in an East African restaurant in Phoenix. ... Nice lunch the other day with Larry Stone, the very underrated national baseball man from the Seattle Times -- not to mention proprietor of one of the coolest blog names around. You can check out the Hot Stone League here.

Dislikes:
Smokers who think they can throw their butts out the car window. You see this a staggering amount of the time, and I saw it the other day on a freeway here in Florida. Who do these smokers think they are? Literally, they view the world as their ashtray. How selfish.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Boat drinks
"Boys in the band ordered boat drinks
"Visitors scored on the home rink
"Everything seems to be wrong
"Lately, the newspaper mentioned cheap air fare"
"I gotta fly to Saint Somewhere
"I'm close to bodily harm
"Twenty degrees and the hockey game's on
"Nobody cares they are way too far gone
"Screamin' boat drinks, something to keep 'em all warm"

-- Jimmy Buffett, Boat Drinks

Posted on: February 11, 2010 6:38 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2010 7:14 pm
 

Tigers, Braves, White Sox woo Damon

A long, cold winter appears poised to thaw for outfielder Johnny Damon, who is mulling offers from Detroit and Atlanta with the Chicago White Sox in the mix as well, according to sources with knowledge of the talks.

Damon, who helped freeze himself out of the Bronx by declining a Yankees offer earlier this winter, now has multiple options as the start of spring camp draws near. He is expected to make a decision in the next few days.

Detroit's offer, confirmed by sources on Thursday, is believed to be for significantly more money than that of Atlanta, which extended an offer at mid-week. Agent Scott Boras, who has a history of coaxing Detroit owner Mike Ilitch into financial territory beyond where Tigers baseball people are comfortable (see Pudge Rodriguez and Magglio Ordonez), reportedly has received an offer from Detroit with variations that could be worth $7 million over one year or $14 million over two.

The Braves' offer, according to multiple reports, is in the neighborhood of $4 million for one year with a portion of that deferred.

That Atlanta's pitch to Damon would be lukewarm makes sense because, in the National League, Damon would have to play full time in the outfield, where scouts say his skills have deteriorated. Damon, never blessed with a strong throwing arm, was moved from center to left field by the Yankees in 2009.

In Detroit -- or, with the White Sox -- Damon could serve as a designated hitter. Though, the Tigers also have an aging Carlos Guillen, so Damon likely would get some outfield time as well.

In the Detroit and Atlanta scenarios, Damon would fill a specific need: Leadoff hitter. In Chicago, Damon would help fill top-of-the-order needs as well, but the White Sox also acquired Juan Pierre from the Dodgers earlier this winter. 

The Braves believe they've never had a true leadoff hitter. Detroit, which lost the AL Central lead on the last weekend of the 2009 season, since has cut loose Placido Polanco (who signed with Philadelphia) and traded Curtis Granderson (Yankees). The White Sox, who used Chris Getz and Scott Podsednik atop the order last year, also have long felt they've lacked a true leadoff hitter. Thus, Pierre, and, perhaps Damon (who, at the very least, would give the White Sox another needed lefty bat).

The Braves could be attractive to Damon for a couple of reasons: President John Schuerholz was the general manager in Kansas City when the Royals made Damon their first-round pick in 1992, and they train in Orlando, Fla., where Damon makes his off-season home. Furthermore, Orlando is a short flight from Atlanta, one that Damon could easily make on Braves off days during the season.

The Tigers' money, though, is expected by many in the industry to make Damon overlook all that.

Meantime, Damon, 36, would arrive with flashing caution lights in at least some areas: He's older, his defense has eroded some and there is some sentiment that his offensive numbers last year were inflated by new Yankee Stadium's hitter-friendly demeanor. While he equaled a career-high with 24 home runs, 17 of those were at home. The other seven all came in AL East division ballparks.

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com