Sunday, March 02, 2008

Random Thoughts

I haven't gone through the last couple Spring Training Games quite yet. I had a few things to say about those games and figured it would be useful to go through them:

Thursday: Tigers 4, Blue Jays 1
This was another great performance by the pitching staff, which has done well so far this Spring. Macay McBride allowed the only run, and it was unearned. Matt Mantei, though, walked two guys in his inning. There seems to be a lot of speculation that he could crack the bullpen, but if his control problems keep up it won't be pretty. He hasn't been able to curb his walks since 2003, his last season as an effective reliever. If he can't keep his walks below one per inning in the Spring, I don't see how he can be trusted on the big league staff.

Friday: Tigers 3, Blue Jays 1
The real story in this game was Rick Porcello's two perfect innings. The Blue Jays couldn't manage a ball out of the infield against him, and Frank Thomas couldn't manage contact against him, striking out. Caveats about spring statistics do apply, but certainly Porcello looking so strong against mostly MLB regulars is a lot better than him struggling. All the praise about his poise from the scouting reports and from Jim Leyland this spring reinforces the thought that he will move quickly. I would not be shocked to see Porcello in Lakeland to start the season. Hopefully he goes on the Verlander path, only moving up when he is blowing away the competition. Either way, this kid is special.

Saturday: Tigers 3, Indians 3
The Tigers and Indians decided to use soccer rules yesterday, deciding that it wasn't important to decide a winner. Given the objectives of Spring Training, this makes sense. Danny Worth got thrown out at the plate in the ninth inning after a James Skelton single. Clearly if Skelton wasn't so skinny, Worth would have made it home and he would have gotten an RBI. Tim Byrdak really struggled yesterday. I want to point out that he also had a breakout season in 2005 for the Orioles only to fall on his face in 2006. I have faith, though, that Clay Rapada is a suitable replacement for the second lefty role. I just want to make sure everybody is prepared for a Byrdak collapse, as it's fairly likely.

BA reported this week that Ron Bourquin is working out at first base this spring. This only moderately will adjust the projections, as I still don't see room for him to play 1B every day. The guy is no longer a prospect, though.

I went back and checked out Fernando Rodney's 2004 Spring Training, just to see the chronology that led up to his first Tommy John Surgery.
  • March 15, 2004: triceps tendonitis shut him down.
  • March 20: Felt fine after a bullpen session.
  • March 24: Another bullpen session left Rodney with some discomfort afterwards.
  • March 27: Felt better after a bullpen session.
  • April 2: Placed on the disabled list with triceps tendonitis.
  • April 7: Diagnosed with a severe sprain in his elbow ligament, but the Tigers decide to let him rehabilitate the injury.
  • April 25: After a couple of simulated games, Rodney didn't feel any better.
  • April 29: It was announced that Rodney would under go Tommy John Surgery.
I'm not posting this to give the impression that Fernando Rodney is sure to go under the knife. I'm posting it to give a typical progression of a pitcher with arm problems. A lot of serious injuries first get diagnosed as tendonitis and become serious later. Besides, that was an elbow injury. This has clearly been Fernando Rodney's shoulder that has been bothering this Spring and much of last season. The moral of this story is not to assume Fernando Rodney will return at full strength until he does.

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