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Detroit Tigers Inside Pitch 2009-01-29

Detroit Tigers Inside Pitch 2009-01-29
Tigers fans were nervous at the thought of pinning their hopes on Fernando Rodney to be the successor to Todd Jones as closer, and so was Detroit management.

Unable to land a high-profile closer in the wake of the end of Jones' career, Detroit made a move Saturday by signing free agent right-hander Brandon Lyon to a one-year deal most likely laced with incentives.

Rodney was highly inconsistent in a trial as the closer in August and September, so the Tigers were on the search for alternatives all winter. An unwillingness to bid on the high profile closers led to bringing in Lyon to compete with Rodney for the role of ninth-inning pitcher. The other will work in the setup role.

"Brandon Lyon is a proven reliever at the major league level," GM Dave Dombrowski said. "Brandon will compete for the closer's role this spring and we expect him to play a significant role on our pitching staff in the late innings."

Rodney will "be a big asset, in my opinion," manager Jim Leyland said. "What his role will be, I don't know yet. But he'll be a very valuable piece of our team. I'll leave it at that because I don't know how it plays out."

Detroit is flush with late inning pitchers in the minors, but four of them came out of last June's draft and they're not ready yet. One or two of the entire group might make the team for work in the middle innings.

"Sometimes you go after high-profile guys," Dombrowski said, "and sometimes you try to get not-so-high-profile guys."

Detroit recently signed RHP Juan Rincon to a minor league deal and invited him to train with the Tigers, and Saturday they added another vet, RHP Scott Williamson, on similar terms.

It's a gamble, but a risk the Tigers are forced to take given the state of the economy.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: January 29, 2009

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