Lots of news over the past 4-5 days. You’re already aware of these items, most likely, but here’s a little roundup to “put them in the paper,” so to speak:
ROSTER MOVES: IF Jeff Kobernus was sent back to the Nationals. The Tigers retained the rights to Rule 5 LHP Kyle Lobstein by trading C Curt Casali to the Rays for them. IF/OF Matt Tuiasosopo has made the team and claimed a bench spot. Today, RHP Luke Putkonen was optioned to Toledo, while RHP Jose Alvarez, C Brad Davis, and 3B Kevin Russo were assigned to minor league camp, and OF Avisail Garcia was placed on the 15-day DL retroactively (heel contusion that he suffered March 16). The Tigers also released a boatload of minor league players, 20 to be exact.
More of a roster decision than a roster move, but Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly will both be on the pitching staff, Porcello in the rotation and Smyly in the pen.
It looks like there’s a decision to be made on Don Kelly (RHP Shawn Hill will likely be sent out to Toledo soon) and then 3 spots left to trim to 25. On the bubble, most likely, are pitchers Bruce Rondon, Darin Downs, and Luis Marte, and position players Danny Worth, Quintin Berry, and Ramon Santiago. One of the former and two of the latter (barring Kelly’s return) should head north with the team.
DON KELLY: But wait – there’s news on Mr. Don. He’s not opting out. This isn’t bad news, regardless of your position on Kelly.
JV: The Justin Verlander contract extension talks deadline is nearly upon us.
VIRGIL TRUCKS 1917-2013: Not only two no-hitters, but…
EX-TIGERS: Brandon Inge (Pirates) and Ryan Raburn (Indians) will both start the season on MLB teams, and the Tigers could end up seeing quite a bit of both of them.
ANDY DIRKS has been out of the starting lineup the last couple games, just a “precautionary measure” (related to the knee contusion Dirks suffered in the March 19 LF wall collision) according to Jim Leyland.
And in Grapefruit League action the past couple days, a little road trip resulted in a win over the Marlins and a loss to the Braves. I’ll be back with some items of note from those games. If you watched them, chime in. It’s still spring training, they’re still exhibition games, but they’re getting a bit more momentous now (aren’t they?) with less than a week to go until you know what.
TIGERS 6, MARLINS 3: The Miami Marlins don’t feature the most imposing lineup, but still, Porcello looked good, Brayan Villareal was good Villareal (three groundouts showing that the benefit of well-thrown heat doesn’t always show up in the K column), and Putkonen did a nice job getting out of the first and third, no outs trouble he got himself into in the 9th… The first pitch curve Porcello threw to Wilson Alvarez in the 3rd was really something to see (backed Alvarez out of the box and landed for a strike)… Rob Brantly’s home run was pretty much all to his credit, not a bad pitch by Porcello, though maybe not one he’ll throw Brantly again… The foul pop in the 3rd that Miguel Cabrera couldn’t find in the sun: Shouldn’t someone have been over there with him – Avila, maybe? It was up there long enough. Oh well. Maybe no one saw it. And speaking of “up there,” Cabrera’s RBI double in the 1st wasn’t your typical Cabrera double. Giancarlo Stanton must have been positioned in LF for that to drop and bounce over the wall… Brayan Pena made some nice plays at first, and the Tigers defense was nice and crisp overall. Coolest was in the 4th, when Casey Kotchman’s sharp grounder was deflected by a diving Pena to (or near) Omar Infante, who found it and threw in time to Porcello racing over to cover 1B… Most of the early 4-run damage the Tigers did was from RHBs off a RHP who wasn’t coming inside to them… Steven Moya’s 6th inning sliding catch in RF: That’s one graceful 6’7″ guy. I like this kid. Latest prediction: In the Tigers outfield by 2015. If he stays healthy… Nice inning of (sort of wild) small ball in the Tigers 2-run 7th. Kotchman had Russo nailed at the plate, but Brantly was cautious and Russo was tricky with hesitation and a good evasive slide. We won’t mention Moya getting caught in a rundown between 3rd and home to end the inning.
BRAVES 6, TIGERS 5: Not on MLB.TV. Oh well. The bullpen let this one get away after one rally and another. Hill, Rondon, Phil Coke, all good. Villareal one HR pitch away from being OK, I guess. Octavio Dotel was making up for WBC lost time and decided to save some by having one great outing and one flameout, both in the same inning. Don Kelly 4 for 4! Trade value soaring. All the bench contenders are now batting over .300.