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News » Detroit Tigers Notes, Quotes 2008-11-29

Detroit Tigers Notes, Quotes 2008-11-29

Detroit Tigers Notes, Quotes 2008-11-29
--1B/3B Jeff Larish might be blocked from a starting spot on Detroit's roster, but a solid Arizona Fall League capped a year in which he showed he's just about ready to leave the minors behind. Larish, 26, tied for second in the AFL with 29 RBIs, hit six home runs, batted .331 and had an on-base-plus-slugging pecentage of .958 in 30 games. He hit just .260 in 42 games with Detroit, but his average with runners in scoring position was .375, which he duplicated in his AFL season. Larish is blocked at first base by Miguel Cabrera and at third by Brandon Inge, but because he hits left-handed, he could challenge for a reserve position.

--SS Edgar Renteria, already jettisoned by Detroit at a cost of a $3 million buyout, was not expected to be offered arbitration by the Tigers. Renteria, 33, must be offered arbitration if Detroit hopes to get two first-round draft choices should the Type A free agent sign with someone else. The Tigers won't offer him arbitration, however, because of the risk he would accept and the club would then have to pay him close to the $9 million he earned last season. Renteria batted .270 with 10 home runs and 55 RBIs in 138 games with the Tigers, but his diminished range and a prolonged midseason slump induced the club to cut him loose.

--RHP Casey Fien bolstered his confidence for spring training with Detroit by having a solid Arizona Fall League season. Fien, 25, pitched at the Class AA level last summer. He has a good fastball and has been an effective relief pitcher in the minors. He had a 2-0 record, two saves and a 1.84 ERA for the Mesa Solar Sox of the AFL this fall, and he did not walk a batter in his 12 appearances. He struck out 15 in 14 2/3 innings. The Tigers will revamp their bullpen this offseason, and Fien, while considered a longshot, has a legitimate chance coming in the spring.

--RHP Rudy Darrow, 24, improved his standing in the organization with a strong Arizona Fall League showing. Darrow, who turns 25 before spring training, has a deceptive delivery but throws harder than most side-arm pitchers. He pitched 12 1/3 innings of relief for Mesa but struck out 18 and walked five. He was 1-0 with a 2.92 ERA. Darrow is unlikely to make the Tigers out of the spring, but how he fares against major league players could put him line for an in-season look.

--OF Casper Wells, 24, is one of the stronger players in a Detroit system weak on positional prospects. Wells, who just turned 24, put himself strongly on the Tigers' radar screen this year with solid performances in low Class A, Class AA and most recently the Arizona Fall League. Wells' chief drawback is that he's a right-handed hitter in an organization looking for left-handed power help. Wells hit eight home runs, drove in 23 runs and hit .321 for Mesa of the AFL and was added to Detroit's 40-man roster. Overall he hit 35 home runs and drove in 102 runs in 148 games for the three teams while batting .277.

"He's had a tremendous year," GM Dave Dombrowski said. "We like him a lot. He's really jumped up to the prospect level. He's taken significant leaps -- and he's going to continue to improve because he plays hard and has a lot of ability."

Ryne Sandberg, Mesa's hitting coach, described Wells as a five-tool player who has "one of the better arms I've seen in the whole league. When he makes contact, good things happen."

--C Dane Sardinha, who elected free agency after being waived by Detroit, changed his mind and signed a minor league contract with the Tigers. Sardinha hit just .179 in 17 games with Detroit over two terms but showed solid defensive skills. He gives the organization insurance at the position but also could be in play for a roster spot if the club is unable to obtain help for rookie C Dusty Ryan.

--RHP Junichi Tazawa will not get an offer from the Detroit Tigers, who cited a respect for tradition in deciding not to get involved with the 22-year-old amateur. Tigers assistant GM Al Avila said Detroit wants to avoid alienating Japanese pro teams as it anticipates becoming more of a presence in the Asian talent market over the next few years. Tazawa seeks to bypass Japan's pro leagues in going directly to pro ball in the United States. The major leagues and Japan's pro leagues have traditionally and unofficially agreed to avoid raiding the other country's amateur talent.

"We have invested much time and resources the last two years building our staff and rebuilding our good relationships in Japan and in other Asian countries in order to be players in those markets for years to come," Avila said in an e-mail to the Detroit Free Press.

BY THE NUMBERS: 28 -- Saves blown by Detroit's relievers last season. Detroit converted only 55 percent of its save opportunities, but just 39 percent without the 18-for-21 success rate of retired RHP Todd Jones. Only two American League clubs had fewer saves than Detroit's 34.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "There are no magical formulas outside of premium closers. But we have good arms in the system and a lot of possibilities there." -- GM Dave Dombrowski of Detroit, talking about his team's bullpen situation.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: November 29, 2008

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