Spring Training Opener

Let the fake games begin. The Tigers take the field finally this afternoon against the Atlanta Braves. Justin Verlander will be joined by Zach Miner, Bobby Seay, Brandon Lyon, Eddie Bonine, Fu-Te Ni and Kyle Bloom on the mound. The game will be broadcast on the radio (1270 AM) so you can listen in.

And you can’t start the spring training slate without the Voice of the Turtle.

First pitch is 1:05.

53 thoughts on “Spring Training Opener”

  1. Well, he’ll probably only pitch a few innings. We’ll get a chance to see how our hitters do against him and how much some of them need to get thier timing down. Didn’t we do pretty good in ST games last year? I’m anxious to see how the infield will do along with our new catcher. Pretty exciting stuff. Can hardly wait to hear the sounds of baseball again.

    Jurrjens to start Grapefruit League opener
    By David O’Brien

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    Wednesday, February 25, 2009

    Lake Buena Vista, Fla. —- After a week of full-squad workouts, the Braves open Grapefruit League play today, when most of their lineup will make the short bus ride down I-4 to Lakeland to face the Tigers.

    “We’ll start [games] quick, but they’re ready,” manager Bobby Cox said of his Braves, who will send starter Jair Jurrjens to face Detroit’s Justin Verlander.

    Grapefruit League play begins a few days earlier than usual this season to accommodate next month’s World Baseball Classic.

    Jurrjens and left-hander Jo-Jo Reyes are scheduled to pitch two innings apiece, followed by relievers Manny Acosta, Stephen Marek and lefties Eric O’Flaherty and Juan Perez.

    Third baseman Chipper Jones and outfielder Garret Anderson are the only projected Braves regulars not penciled in to make the trip.

    The Braves’ spring home opener is Thursday against the Astros, with Jorge Campillo scheduled to start and top pitching prospect Tommy Hanson slated to make his debut with two relief innings.

    No Dogs, Jackets on field this year

    The Braves usually start their exhibition schedule with a game against Georgia or Georgia Tech, and most other major league teams also typically open against a college opponent.

    But most of the college games were scrubbed this year so that players participating in the WBC could get at-bats against major-league competition before reporting to their WBC training camps this weekend.

    In 2006, some U.S. team players played only a couple of exhibition games before WBC play began. The U.S. team failed to advance to the tournament semifinals.

    Five Braves will compete for WBC teams —- Jones and Brian McCann for the United States; starting pitchers Javier Vazquez for Puerto Rico and Campillo for Mexico; and Acosta for Panama.

    Jones and McCann will report Sunday to Clearwater, Fla., and could miss up to 3 1/2 weeks if the team advances to the March 24 championship game.

    Injury report

    Reliever Blaine Boyer was scratched from making a relief appearance today after cutting the index finger on his pitching hand on an apple slicer. The cut isn’t considered serious —- Boyer pitched his regular bullpen session Tuesday —- but the Braves are being cautious with the right-hander. … Right-hander Charlie Morton won’t throw for one week after straining an oblique muscle in his left side. “If it’s going to happen, better to have it happen now, I guess,” said Morton, who was hurt while pitching batting practice Monday. He felt a twinge in his side as he extended his arm finishing a pitch.

  3. The JJ thing has me a bit miffed. I mean, it was obvious when he made those starts for the Tigers that he can pitch. I blame DD’s POWER ARMS man-crush. Basically, if your fastball didn’t hit 96 or better, you were worthless. This always irritated me. Give me a pitcher vs. a thrower any day.

  4. Coach Jim,

    I agree that DD has gone a little overboard in his quest for power arms, but it’s not like he doesn’t listen to his scouts. Galarraga is exactly the type of guy you describe, a pitcher instead of a thrower, and a guy without overwhelming stuff. Just pinpoint control and a notion of how to get guys out.

  5. I have stated here and elsewhere, many times, that the JJ-Renteria deal was awful. That said, I agree with Mark. DD did a good job of finding a “poor man’s” Jurrjens in Galarraga.

    I really don’t think the trade was so much out of DD relative dislike of JJ’s arm. Rather, it filled a need targeted by the management (SS), and JJ was a hot commodity as he had just demonstrated himself a young, MLB-ready arm following his call-up.

  6. Tom Gage mused today that Galarraga could be the long man in the pen if both Robertson and Willis pitch well in spring training.
    Also in re: to the Joyce trade, I am convinced he would be fighting for the Larish/Raburn roster spot and be the eventual winner
    Ah well, I am sure Jackson will have a solid year

  7. For lo, the winter is past!

    I have a bad feeling that Jurrjens and Joyce will be haunting us all season long. I still can’t believe how easily we gave up that young talent.

    I’m just itching for live baseball…

  8. So I’m going to be out of the metro Detroit area this summer. I just wanted to ask you guys what the consensus is on mlb.tv, is it worth the money? How is the quality etc, and which of the two packages should i get?


  9. Dylan,

    I had mlb.tv for the past two seasons, and generally speaking it’s worth the investment. The quality is decent, although the HD picture (1.2MB feed, I think) is noticeably better. My PC is a bit older and doesn’t have a great video card so I was stuck using the 800k feed. There have been techincal glitches in the past, but I distinctly remember them being much less frequent last year vs. 2007.

    It’s not the easiest to jump around and “channel surf” to other games between innings, but there’s saved content if you want to catch a game you missed. The best improvement was adding home and away feeds for each game so you don’t have to suffer through other team’s announcers.

    It’s nice that you can log on at basically any computer and watch the game, although games are still subject to the blackout rules if the Tigers are visiting the city you’re in.

    All in all I’ve been generally pleased. I haven’t check out what new features they might have added this year, and unfortunately I decided not to renew since I’ll have weeknight commitments a couple times every week and I doubt I’ll have the time to sit and watch a game.

  10. Dylan,

    I’ve had it for the last two seasons as well. If you have a good connection, then there really shouldn’t be any problems. Definitely get the Premium package. The higher quality picture is worth every additional penny in a 162 game season. One feature that they added this year is the DVR function. In the past you could watch archived games, but only after they were completed. This year you can rewind a live game to the beginning and even turn off the scoreboard, so you won’t know who’s winning or already won. That’s perfect for me, because I’m 3 hours behind Detroit and will be at work for half the innings.

  11. I do not understand why people are constantly ripping on Gallaraga and why Gage feels that Robertson or Willis with a strong spring would relegate Gallaraga to the pen- I agree that he may turn out to be a fluke, but with the command over his pitches that he has and the slider that he showed last year, why do so many people insist on railing on him and moving him to the pen before he’s even thrown a pitch in ST? He showed more to me last year than Robertson ever has, and was their best starter by a long shot for most of the year, and yet we’re talking about putting Roberston, owner of the 6 era, in the rotation over Gallaraga.

    My guess would be that it sounds like Willis will be the 5th starter, and Robertson will be trade bait if all the reports are true and Willis is throwing with a higher velocity and more command. But its still far too early to tell.

  12. Mark in Chicago,

    I agree that DD goes overboard on power arms, and that Galarraga is not one of them. But your characterization of him as “just pinpoint control and a notion of how to get guys out” is pretty bad. His BB/9 rate is just a hair below league average.

    I was really excited to see Seay strike out the side on nine pitches. He’s one of a few strikeout threats to come out of the pen the last few years. I was really, really pumped to see the Tigers win.

  13. Inge with a 2-2 performance today. How about Laird running those bases? He’s like a younger Pudge. I read a quote from Verlander after the game where he said that they are much more focused this year and that last year was a complete fluke. It was hard not to believe him. My optimism continues to swell.

  14. Chauncey- I agree. Problem is Galarraga had the knack to get batters to hit bad pitches into easy outs. That doesn’t go well for his BiBIP statistic that so many “experts” have fallen in love with.

    Also, Galarraga is under appreciated partly because people are still grieving about the Jurrjens trade. They kept on comparing it to the Smoltz’s trade also. It’s a sorry state we have here when people keep looking back at what could of been.

    IMO, Smoltz was extremely fortunate to get traded away from the Tigers. The Tigers didn’t have a winning season for 12 consecutive seasons during his prime years. He would of been pitching most of them years at Tiger Stadium also. His career might have been flushed down the toilet if the Tigers hadn’t traded him when they did. That’s something many Tigers fans don’t think about.

    Time for me to move forward also. Anyways, win or lose, this is going to be another exciting year for the Tigers.

  15. Mr. X and Chauncey–

    I sincerely hope Gallaraga can sustain his 2008 performance. The abnormally low babip suggests, but of course does not prove, however, that he may regress in 2009. One reason that method is sound is because it is based on thousands of innings and seasons worth of data. I will concede that the method is far from perfect–it’s really just circumstantial evidence of luck, after all. But at least it is something, and again, when applied to large sets of data it is informative. At the very least, it’s not biased, and it has nothing to do with one’s feelings about the Renteria trade, which has as little to do with my view of Gallaraga as anything else I can imagine. Do you have an
    argument as to why it is unsound? Is there a record of galarraga being especially
    good at getting lots of hitters to hit lots of well-placed pitches at the best defenders on
    the field at a rate that is at odds with the success or failure all of the pitchers and all of the defenses elsewhere?


  16. “That doesn’t go well for his BiBIP statistic that so many “experts” have fallen in love with.”

    It’s not as if statophiles get starry-eyed at the glimpse of any given formula. People like BABIP because it has been shown to correlate with future performance in most cases. The reason that Gallaraga has been predicted to regress is because most pitchers in the same situation have done so. It’s obviously not a certainty — it’s just logical.

    EDIT: I probably should have read to the end of the page before replying, as Kevin said pretty much the same thing I did an hour before me.

  17. I’m not saying that Gallaragga won’t regress, and would maybe even admit that its likely that he will. But, he does have several characteristics that make you think that he can be a solid major league starter-

    My point was, and maybe I could have made it better- is that I get tired of hearing about Nate Robertson. To me, he has had one decent major league year, and thats it- how many more chances does he get to prove himself- when even at his best, his numbers were never better than what Gallaraga did last year. So before we talk about moving a pitcher that just went 13-6 with an ERA under 4 last year to the bullpen, simply bc his BABIP projects him to regress this year- I have a felling that if we looked at his BABIP or whatever else last year at this time, he’d have never made the majors.

  18. I guess the justification for choosing Robertson over Galarraga would be that Nate has had one good year and three roughly average ones, while 2008 is Armando’s only pedigree. I wouldn’t agree with that argument, though.

    It’s funny, though, because according to ERA+ Robertson’s 2006 and Galarraga’s 2008 were pretty much the same.

  19. Exactly. Nate Robertson’s 2006 and Galarraga’s 2008 are pretty similar, and look at what Nate has done since. The point is, we should be expecting back-end performance from Galarraga, unless he changes his game a lot. And that’s not a bad thing. 200 innings of league average performance means that replacement level players aren’t getting those innings.

  20. @ Chauncey and Eric

    First, I’m not quite sure why there’s a feeling that so and so will displace so and so. Going into camp, the Tigers seemed to be saying that they were going with “the best man” this year, regardless of who that ended up being for any given position. Now, clearly there are some positions where there is very little doubt who will be getting the starts and most of the uncertainty is with the pitching staff. That having been said, its not like all of the sudden any one thought that Robertson would be competing for the #2 spot in the rotation. Frankly, I’m not sure why some people assume that Jackson isn’t competing for the #5 spot (and to a lesser extent, Bonderman making #2 isn’t a sure thing).

    Galarraga has certainly earned the right to compete for a spot in the rotation, but I think that the club’s announced mantra (“best man”) should hold in Spring Training. If Bonderman’s arm falls off, or if Verlander can’t find the strike zone…but Willis and Robertson can, do you still trot the supposed #1 and #2s out there?

    As far as Robertson vs. Galarraga – Robertson, to my knowledge, has pretty much always been considered the durable lefty, back of the rotation guy. Some people, me included, thought that he’d turned the corner in ’06 and might be considered middle of the rotation guy…whatever that means. Galarraga on the other hand, we’ve only had one season’s look at him. ’08 could be just as much a beneficial fluke for him as it was a disastrous one for Robertson. Bottom line though, whatever group of pitchers seems to be the best bet coming out of Spring Training should make the team. If there’s a tie between Robertson and Galarraga, I suppose then you could argue equally well based on experience (Robertson) or recent production (Galarraga). I don’t think either of these guys are as good or bad as the extremes I sometimes hear.

  21. Dylan – spring for the premium MLB.tv and split it with one or two other fans. I’ve never had a problem doing it that way.

    Though you definitely need high speed internet (I’m assuming everyone has that except for the one regular poster whose name eludes me right now that gets updates via telegraph…click click….cliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiick….click) and a good video card.

    I’d also suggest investing $150 in a 2nd monitor. It’s great for productivity.

  22. Thanks for the post Chris. I like this line:

    “Cabrera is making himself a good first baseman (‘He may have the best baseball instincts on this team,’ says Leyland).”

    Well, Jim, he may not have the best baseball instincts. What do you think the chances are, say 1/25?

  23. Chris, you mean the Onion isn’t real?

    Kevin, this is like the 3rd of 4th city you’ve listed your name under. I don’t want to get off baseball, but do you mind if I ask what you do to cause all this moving around? Consulting?

  24. Hey Mark in Chi –

    It’s my third. Grad School is the culprit. I did my first year of law school in NY (loved the city, wasn’t crazy about the school), transferred to UT Austin, now I’m practicing in Dallas. Dallas is home, should be set here for a while. If you need to sue someone in TX, let me know.

  25. And I think I was just Kevin for yr 1, but another Kevin hopped on, and identifying by city was so in back then.

  26. HAHAHA

    End of
    June Tigs @ ‘Stros

    July Tigs @ Rangers

    by then we should know how Armando v. Nate went down in the history books

  27. Chris – hit me up offline, let’s meet up for some Tigers/Rangers games this year. kmvela @ yahoo.com

  28. lol, exactly what I was thinking

    Iwant to go to Texas so bad, I hear it is somewhat hot down there in the summer

  29. David: ‘hot’ is a bit of an understatement.

    Kevin: Yeah sounds like a plan. I usually try to make it to every Tigs/Rangers game if I can.

  30. Nice effort from Dontrelle today, didn’t get anybody out when he came out for his second inning. Gave up two unearned runs his first inning, two earned ones his second.

    Detroit IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
    Willis 1.0 3 4 2 1 0 0 18.00
    Lambert 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00

  31. Dontrelle got lit up, as did Rodney (1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 0 K, 1 HR). At least Willis only walked one of the 9 batters he faced.

  32. Not very encouraging. Leyland would probably say “Willis and Rodney may walk a few this year.”

  33. How do I edit my picture? These mazes are giving me headaches. I’ve got one of Paws in a compromising position.

  34. Looking at the boxscore from today’s game, I am shocked, shocked at the performance of the usual suspects. I know it is still early and there are money issues, but I hope the team leaves camp with the best 25 players rather than the top 22 or 23 and a few high salary guys.

  35. I know it’s still early, but it would be great not having to begin our sentences with “I know it’s still early”.
    Is Inge keeping his hands up? He appears to be off to a promising start.

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