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Detroit Tigers Inside Pitch 2009-01-10


Detroit Tigers Inside Pitch 2009-01-10
It seems more and more likely that the Tigers will enter spring training gambling they can find a closer on their roster.

The leader in the clubhouse is right-hander Fernando Rodney, but he's no lock. Rodney was alternately superb and super bad when asked to take over ninth-inning chores last season when right-hander Todd Jones was beset by shoulder problems that ultimately ended his career.

Finding a new closer was a winter priority, but economics have clearly played a big part in Detroit's roster reshaping.

The Tigers would have had their closer situation resolved by now if they were operating under the same guidelines in place the last few winters.

But the collapse of auto sales, the troubles of the auto industry and the fact that Michigan's economic problems are worse than practically every other state in the nation has led Detroit to quietly rein in spending for the moment.

It reduces the Tigers to hoping Rodney can step up and become a dominant closer in his walk year. He has the stuff; it's just not always there.

The organization is watching the progress of closers whose careers have been derailed by injures, maybe hoping to sign one of them to a contract laced with performance incentives.

Or the Tigers might wait to see what shakes out in spring training to see if a closer or prospect becomes available in trade.

"I'm not sure of the timing," general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "We could go to spring training with that thought process (wait on a trade), although we'll continue to examine availabilities before then.

"It's hard to predict this year's process before spring training -- there are so many more free agents available at every position."

And in the back of everyone's mind is the hope that right-hander Joel Zumaya can come back from two years abbreviated by injuries to start becoming the closer the club anticipated two winters back.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: January 10, 2009

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