|Detroit (5-6) «||2||0||1||0||3||0||0||2||x||8||10||1|
LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) - Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland has plenty of hitting at his disposal and a top-notch starting rotation. His bullpen, though, could be a problem.
"I am concerned," Leyland said. "I am not promoting anyone to closer just yet. We don't have a closer right now."
Before the Tigers' 8-5 win over the Houston Astros on Monday, Leyland emphasized that he is uncomfortable with not having a true closer that he can count on.
On Monday, Potential Tigers closers Brayan Villarreal and Al Albuquerque each struck out the side in their only inning in relief of Rick Porcello, who struck out six in four innings.
Jose Valverde was not brought back after he had 35 saves last year but was rocked in the postseason, pitching four times before losing his job.
"Valverde has never been discussed," Leyland said. "I'm shocked and broken hearted that he doesn't have a job, but we knew we weren't bringing him back."
That left the Tigers without a proven closer. Much of the speculation this spring training has been that 22-year-old right-hander Bruce Rondon would step in to the role. Rondon moved from Class-A to Triple-A last year, but he's been hit hard this spring.
Leyland said Rondon was never anointed the new closer and that there were several candidates for the job. It is too early to count Rondon out of the mix, though, or for that matter, anyone else.
"Rondon is still a candidate," Leyland said. "He's just throwing it hard and they are hitting it pretty hard."
Leyland emphasized that he is concerned about not having a true closer by opening day. He said he'd rather not go with a closer-by-committee plan, but all options are open.
"Is it a concern? Sure it is," Leyland said. "But we didn't have a closer two months ago either. It's just too early to say. At some point this spring we are going to have to make a decision. Any of them will pitch well enough or they won't. With Rondon, even his outings had been good so far I wouldn't have appointed him our closer yet."
Leyland said he has a Plan B but isn't willing to discuss it right now, but he wants a closer rather than a committee.
"No question it is 100 percent better to have one closer," Leyland said. "If you don't have a closer you are open game. I just know I would be a lot more confident if I had a closer right now."
Rondon had 27 saves last season during his rise through the Tigers organization. The returning Detroit pitchers combined for only five saves last season, led by Joaquin Benoit with two.
Jared Cosart started for the Astros and allowed three earned runs in two innings. He also walked four. The Astros walked nine and committed two errors.
NOTES: Leyland reported that RHP Max Scherzer felt fine on Monday, one day after making his first start of the spring. Scherzer had shoulder discomfort at the end of 2012. ... Astros OF Rick Ankiel had another hit to raise his spring average to .467. . Former Astros pitcher Roger Clemens is back in camp for the second of three stints. . Astros RHP Bud Norris will pitch a simulated game in the bullpen on Wednesday, the day of his next scheduled start.
|Players of the Game|
|Jose Altuve, 2B||3||0||1||0||0||1||1||.250|
|Jacob Elmore, 2B||1||0||0||0||1||1||1||.222|
|Fernando Martinez, LF||2||1||0||0||1||1||2||.286|
|Jason Jaramillo, C||1||0||0||0||1||1||2||.333|
|Carlos Pena, 1B||3||1||1||0||0||2||0||.235|
|Brandon Laird, 3B||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.400|
|Chris Carter, DH||3||0||1||1||0||2||0||.211|
|Jason Castro, C||3||0||1||1||0||0||1||.400|
|George Springer, PR-CF||1||1||0||0||0||1||0||.400|
|Justin Maxwell, CF||2||2||1||2||1||1||0||.250|
|Nate Freiman, 1B||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.263|
|Rick Ankiel, RF||2||0||1||0||1||1||0||.467|
|Trevor Crowe, LF||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.222|
|Matt Dominguez, 3B||3||0||0||0||0||1||2||.286|
|Jimmy Paredes, RF||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.125|
|Jonathan Villar, SS||4||0||1||1||0||0||1||.100|
|2B - Jose Altuve (2, Porcello), Carlos Pena (1, Putkonen), Jonathan Villar (1, Benoit)|
|HR - Justin Maxwell (1, Ortega)|
|SF - Chris Carter (1)|
|RBI - Chris Carter (3), Jason Castro (5), Justin Maxwell 2 (2), Jonathan Villar (1)|
|SB - Jonathan Villar (1, 3rd base off Benoit/R. Cabrera)|
|Team LOB - 6|
|DP - Altuve-Villar-Pena, Villar-Altuve-Pena|
|E - Jacob Elmore (2, Misplayed grounder), Jonathan Villar (1, Misplayed grounder)|
|Jarred Cosart (L,0-1)||2||4||3||3||4||1||0||4.50|
|WP - Jarred Cosart (2), Alex White (1), Jose Cisnero (1)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Jarred Cosart 28-12, Joshua Zeid 8-4, Alex White 21-12, Kevin Chapman 8-8, Josh Fields 15-7, Jose Cisnero 6-5|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jarred Cosart 3-2, Joshua Zeid 1-0, Alex White 2-3, Jose Cisnero 1-2|
|Batters Faced - Jarred Cosart 14, Joshua Zeid 3, Alex White 12, Kevin Chapman 4, Josh Fields 5, Jose Cisnero 5|
|Austin Jackson, CF||3||0||0||0||1||0||2||.190|
|Daniel Fields, CF||1||0||0||0||0||1||2||.000|
|Torii Hunter, RF||4||1||2||0||0||0||1||.238|
|Avisail Garcia, PR-RF||1||0||0||0||0||0||2||.200|
|Andy Dirks, LF||3||2||1||0||1||2||4||.333|
|Tyler Collins, LF||1||1||1||0||0||0||0||.350|
|Prince Fielder, 1B||2||0||1||0||1||0||2||.353|
|Matt Tuiasosopo, 1B||2||1||1||1||0||0||0||.067|
|Alex Avila, DH||3||1||1||3||1||1||0||.143|
|Jhonny Peralta, SS||3||0||0||0||1||0||1||.200|
|Eugenio Suarez, SS||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Brayan Pena, C||2||1||1||1||1||0||1||.167|
|Ramon Cabrera, C||1||0||0||0||1||0||0||.000|
|Kevin Russo, 3B||4||1||1||1||0||3||3||.368|
|Danny Worth, 2B||2||0||1||1||2||0||0||.286|
|2B - Matt Tuiasosopo (1, Cisnero), Brayan Pena (1, White), Kevin Russo (3, White)|
|SF - Alex Avila (2)|
|RBI - Matt Tuiasosopo (1), Alex Avila 3 (4), Brayan Pena (3), Kevin Russo (4), Danny Worth (2)|
|SB - Ramon Cabrera (1, 2nd base off Fields/Jaramillo), Danny Worth (1, 2nd base off White/Castro)|
|Team LOB - 11|
|DP - Fielder-Peralta-Porcello, Suarez-Worth-Tuiasosopo|
|E - Brayan Villarreal (1, Misplayed grounder)|
|Rick Porcello (W,1-1)||4||3||0||0||0||6||0||3.38|
|Luke Putkonen (H,1)||1.1||2||4||4||3||1||0||8.44|
|Jose Ortega (H,1)||0.2||1||1||1||0||1||1||2.25|
|Joaquin Benoit (H,3)||1||1||0||0||1||1||0||2.25|
|Al Alburquerque (H,1)||1||0||0||0||0||3||0||2.25|
|Brayan Villarreal (S,1)||1||0||0||0||1||3||0||2.25|
|WP - Luke Putkonen (1)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Rick Porcello 26-26, Luke Putkonen 20-8, Jose Ortega 5-5, Joaquin Benoit 9-5, Al Alburquerque 9-9, Brayan Villarreal 14-10|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Rick Porcello 2-3, Luke Putkonen 1-2, Jose Ortega 1-0, Joaquin Benoit 1-0, Brayan Villarreal 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Rick Porcello 14, Luke Putkonen 9, Jose Ortega 3, Joaquin Benoit 4, Al Alburquerque 3, Brayan Villarreal 5|
|Attendance - 6924|
|Game Time - 3:39|
|Temperature - 60|
|Umpires - Home - Jeff Gosney, First Base - Jerry Layne, Second Base - Jeff Nelson, Third Base - Mark Wegner|