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News » Detroit Tigers Notes, Quotes 2009-03-29

Detroit Tigers Notes, Quotes 2009-03-29

Detroit Tigers Notes, Quotes 2009-03-29
--RHP Justin Verlander has been confirmed as Detroit's Opening Day pitcher for the second consecutive season. "I've known it for a while, but I wasn't exactly sure," manager Jim Leyland said. Verlander won 35 games his first two seasons with the Tigers but lost 17 a year ago. "He's really making an effort to make the steps to be as successful as he can be." Verlander blanked Atlanta on two singles over seven innings March 27 in his third straight strong start after cleaning up his mechanics. He threw 75 pitches in his seven innings, a trait of his first two seasons that had ballooned to 100 through five last season. He had five shutout innings in his previous start and has allowed only one run on five hits in his last 18 innings. "He's really working hard on some things he's figured out himself and with (pitching coach) Rick Knapp," Leyland said. "He's making improvements that are good to see."

--LHP Nate Robertson might have to be moved back from his scheduled start March 30 because of a sprained thumb suffered March 25 in the first inning of his start. Robertson took a relay throw on a double-play attempt on his left thumb. He entered the weekend scheduled to throw on the side to determine whether he would be able to start. "I'm a pretty tough guy," he said after X-rays showed no break in the thumb.

--SS Adam Everett hoped to be back on the field during the weekend after spraining his left ankle sliding into second base March 25 when a pop fly dropped behind shortstop for a hit. "I want to be back as soon as possible," he said. Manager Jim Leyland said, "I thought Everett had blown his knee out at first. I don't know for sure, but I don't think he'll be out for long."

--RHP Joel Zumaya probably will remain at Detroit's spring base rather than open the season with the Tigers. Zumaya, bothered by a sore right shoulder, was scheduled to pitch in a weekend minor league game after proving himself in another bullpen session. "He's doing fine but will throw one more side, then start pitching in camp games," manager Jim Leyland said. "He wants (to be ready) as much as anything, but when I get him, I want him for good. I don't care how long it takes. I'm not going to get antsy and say, 'Oh my God, we need Zumaya,' because that's not true. We need him, but we don't need him in a week, we don't need him in 10 days, or two weeks or even in six months if he's not right. When he comes back, I want it to be for good. So I'm not pushing him at all. I'm not putting any length of time on it."

--RHP Jeremy Bonderman believes everything is present in his repertoire -- except his fastball. Bonderman has been throwing at about 88-89 mph rather than in the low 90s, as he has done in the past. "I'm as concerned as he is, but I look at the bright side," manager Jim Leyland said. "There's no pain in his shoulder. That indicates to me (his arm strength) will come back. Exactly how soon, I can't answer that. Next time? I don't know. Five times from now? I don't know. Is he going to be ready? I don't know. I'm planning to pitch him again on Sunday, but is he going to be ready? I don't know. I can't answer that. The positive sign is that he's not hurting at all. If he was down on velocity and having pain, I would be concerned." Leyland hinted that if the velocity remains down, Bonderman might stay behind to keep working rather than open the season with the Tigers.

--RHP Rick Porcello remains a possibility to open the season in the Tigers' rotation but struggled a little in his most recent two starts. Porcello had a high first-inning pitch count in his March 26 effort but still allowed only one runner to cross the plate before reaching his pitch limit in 2 1/3 innings. "I wouldn't have put him on the club if he'd thrown five scoreless innings," manager Jim Leyland said. "I'm not saying he won't make it because he struggled. He has a chance, but that's what it is -- a chance. For the most part, his off-speed pitches weren't there. He's still a little green." Porcello, 20, admits he's still learning. "I need to clear my head and focus on one pitch at a time," he said. "I know I can get guys out, but it isn't easy when you throw a lot of pitches to each hitter. It's not that I'm jumping out of my shoes. It's just that I have to take a deep breath and find that rhythm again."

--OF Clete Thomas returned to the outfield March 25 for the first time this spring. Thomas, who had Tommy John surgery on Sept. 11, started in right field. He played only as a pinch hitter or designated hitter in previous spring action. He is scheduled to open the season with Class AAA Toledo but likely would be the first outfielder called up should something happen to CF Curtis Granderson.

--RHP Edwin Jackson will pitch in Detroit's second game of the regular season, April 7 at Toronto. For that reason, manager Jim Leyland decided to pitch Jackson in a minor league game on March 28 rather than have him work against the Blue Jays in a scheduled exhibition game.

BY THE NUMBERS: 13 -- Strikeouts by Tigers 3B George Kell as he was winning the batting title in 1949 with a .3429 average, .0002 better than Ted Williams. It's the fewest strikeouts ever in a season by a batting champion. Kell, elected to the Hall of Fame in 1981, died March 25 at the age of 86 at his home in Swifton, Ark.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm doing you a favor. Detroit is a great place to play baseball. I can't pay you what you deserve and they can." -- A's owner-manager Connie Mack to 3B George Kell on May 18, 1946, on the occasion of trading him to Detroit for OF Barney McCosky. Kell played for Detroit until 1952 and ended his career breaking in 3B Brooks Robinson for Baltimore in 1957.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: March 29, 2009

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