Category Archives: Fernando

the midseason report card, Roar of the Tigers style


photo by Samara Pearlstein

OK, I’ve seen a lot of blogs on the magical internets doing these midseason report cards and scorecards. I am currently being bored to tears by the All Star game, so what the hell. Obviously this is going to be RotT-style, but you already knew that, didn’t you?

PITCHERS

Jeremy Bonderman
Grade: n/a
Reason: deceased

the Bovine kid
Grade: C
Reason: Every time he goes out there and doesn’t sit down on the mound and start screaming, it’s a plus for us. He’s not handling major league hitting all that well but then again nobody really expected him to do so. In an ideal world (or a less-than-ideal world that nonetheless did not include the destruction of Bondo and Dontrelle) he wouldn’t be anywhere near the big league roster right now.

Freddy Dolsi
Grade: A-
Reason: I saw the very first ever pitches he threw in the big leagues in person, and it seemed eminently likely that the poor kid was going to be scarred for life. This has not been the case. Leyland has been leaning on him awfully hard and he’s bearing up under the pressure remarkably well for a kid who is 12 years old and weighs about 100 pounds.

the Fossum Possum
Grade: D
Reason: Look, it’s Casey Fossum, what do you expect? He doesn’t fail because a) he’s a lefty and b) he gives me an opportunity to say ‘Fossum Possum’.

Arrrrrrrmando Galarrrrrrraga
Grade: A
Reason: The thing with Arrrrmando is that he SHOULD be like Bonine– every time he goes out there and doesn’t start screaming hysterically on the mound, it’s a major plus for the Tigers. But Arrrrmando has been serviceable. Heck, more than that, he’s actually been GOOD. He has been performing so far above any reasonable expectations that it would be downright churlish to give him anything other than an A and a bunch of extra Rs in his name.

Rollercoaster Jones
Grade: B-
Reason: I know this is going to seem insanely generous to a lot of cats, but Jonesy is dead weird and cannot be graded according to the standards of normal people. Sure, his ERA sucks. Sure, his WHIP sucks a LOT (a 1.54 WHIP is pretty bad for a starter, let alone a closer; the best closers in the league right now all have WHIPs under 1.00). Sure, he only has 17 saves– of course the Tigers haven’t given him a ton of save opportunities. But, insanely, he only has 2 blown saves. This compares favorably with some of the best closers in the league. Mariano has none, but Joe Nathan has 2 and Papelbon has 4. Jonesy is frustrating in the extreme but he’s not ACTUALLY deadly most of the time. It’s weird. So, B- .

Aquilino Lopez
Grade: A-
Reason: He’s been fairly good, and kind of flying under the radar. It’ll be interesting to see if the Tigs do manage to convert him to a 5th starter at some point. The best thing about him is still the fact that his name is Aquilino.

Zach Miner
Grade: D
Reason: CONTROL. GET U SUM.

Clay Rapada
Grade: C
Reason: Eh. Sometimes he pitches OK. Mostly he comes up when we need a spare left hand in the bullpen, and gets sent down when more reliable options become healthy/available/sane. Probably the coaches have a good reason for this.

Nate Robertson
Grade: C+
Reason: Nate has had some hard luck this season, we all know that, and he’s pitched some amazingly amazing games, but he’s also pitched some awful games. In a beautiful world filled with fluffy kittens and the ballplayers who hug them, Nate would be a #5 starter. Unfortunately, we do not yet live in that world, and Nate has to play like a less marginal pitcher because we barely have 4 starters, let alone 5.

Fernando
Grade: C-
Reason: Watching Fernando fail on the mound, when I KNOW that he has the latent ability to throw deadly, unhittable pitches, is one of the most frustrating things in the whole wide world of baseball. Fernando makes me want to pull out my own hair and at the same time reach through my TV screen to strangle him. It’s very healthy. He doesn’t get a D because he is at least still (slowly) (incrementally) dragging his numbers back down towards respectability, and because he’s from a city that’s only one letter off from my name. I dig that.

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Bonine surprises, Fernando does not.


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

I got home from the Red Sox game just in time to see Fernando Rodney having a gastrointestinal incident out on the mound. Seriously, just poop everywhere. He obviously had little to no control, bowel or ball or otherwise. Just every kind of poop you can imagine, being excreted by Fernando in a sickeningly public fashion. Have some shame, Fernando! Or we will be forced to shame you.

This was especially discouraging because, despite the inherent hilarity of the initial pitching matchup, Eddie Bonine really DID put up a damn good fight against Greg Maddux. I mean, insert cheap age/length of MLB career comparison joke here, but Bonine did what we asked of him, and did it well enough to make winning a possibility, which is really the upper end of what we should expect from a pitcher like him, in his situation. I know he was pitching in Petco, and Petco is a hundred million miles wide, but his last start– where he gave up 6 runs– was in Comerica, and Comerica is also known for its vast yawning dimensions.

So I am pleasantly surprised by his performance here: 7 IP, 2 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks. That’s a quality start, and definitely comparable to Maddux’s day: 7 IP, 1 run on 5 hits and 1 walk. Watch out, Hall of Fame, Eddie Bonine’s lookin’ in your direction!

After Eddie’s feel-good-ish performance, the Tigers tied it up on a Placido Polanco home run, which is always a wacky thing to see, because Polanco chokes so far up on the bat that for him to hit something out of the park, well, you can usually assume that the pitch was, as Leyland would say, horses**t. So that made the whole thing even MORE feel-good-ish. Yaaaay, kittens and rainbows, etc.

Then came Fernando.

Do you know what his ERA is right now? 135.00. That is not a typo.

I understand Leyland’s reasoning: if a guy is up with the big club Leyland is not going to baby him, he’s going to use him in tough situations, because why else would the guy be up? OK, and ideally it would be true– if someone wasn’t able to handle tough situations, just send that cad back down to AAA and call up someone who CAN handle tough situations, because if a fellow can’t handle a little pressure, why, he shouldn’t be in the majors!

I get that, I really really do, but in the Real World, the one with Fernando Rodney in it, that’s not how it works. Fernando is up with the big club, and he absolutely cannot be put in pressure situations right now, or at any point in the immediate future. His control out there was A SERIOUS LOT OF DUNG, and the Tigers have paid for it with two losses– which, I might unnecessarily add, we cannot in any way afford, not after we spent the first two months of the season digging ourselves a Comerica park-sized hole.

On the plus side, it was good to see Zoom back and throwing 100mph still. Although he too was not spectacular, he also came into a really cruddy situation (bases loaded, no outs; Fernando came into a clean inning) and managed to not give up any runs of his own (he did let two out of his three inherited runners score). The velocity, as I said, was there, and he was mixing in his offspeed stuff freely. His location was a little spotty but infinitely better than Fernando’s. Not that that would be difficult. In any event, he looked like he was in a good place, and hopefully he’ll be able to work his way back to his usual self with minimal drama.

The Wrong Sox lost today, so at least there’s that. Go Cubbies!

Tomorrow Nate Robertson goes up against a dude who has not even been a starter for most the season. Somehow we will probably find a way to make him look heroic. It’s another 10 pm start, because obviously that’s what you want to do with your Saturday night. Go Tigers!

Welcome back Fernando… or not.


photo by Samara Pearlstein

I don’t know how many of you bothered staying up to watch all of this one, but Fernando Rodney did make his return to the majors at some point after midnight EDT. It was…. not pretty. I’m going to assume a lot of you were in fact happily snoozing through it, so I’ll explain what happened.

Verlander went 6, giving up 3 runs (only 2 earned). He struck out 7 and walked 1. Even though he had thrown 98 pitches through 6, he probably could have come out for the 7th if not for the fact that this was a National League game, thus played under a strange and imaginary set of rules. In the top of the 7th, with Pudge on third and the game tied, Michael Hollimon came up and made an out. Hollimon was batting 8th, so Verlander had been ready in the dugout, helmet on and everything (cheap laughs for all, as is ever the case with AL pitchers in batting gear), but with the Tigers needing to score as badly as they did, he was sent back to the bench and Edgah went out to pinch hit in his stead.

Now, Edgah did manage to sacrifice Pudge in for a run (although even this was dicey– Pudge had to slide past a backwards tag by a Molina at the plate, and although he was called safe, FSN replays sure made it look like Molina had managed to catch a bit of Pudge’s jersey), but if Hollimon had done it instead, Verlander almost certainly would have been allowed to go out there and make a fool of himself at the plate, and he would have started the next inning. As you read about the wreck that this game went on to become, just bear that in mind.

With Verlander out and the Tigers up by only a single run, Leyland brought in Freddy ‘Hot Sexy Pitching That’s Just Waiting for the League to Adjust’ Dolsi, who has been pitched so much lately that even the biggest Leyland fanboys are starting to mumble nervously about overuse. He got through the 7th just fine and with not that many pitches, so Leyland ran him out there for the 8th. Questionable? Maybe. But there it is.

Dolsi put a couple of guys on in the 8th, which is not that surprising, given the amount of work he’s had lately and the laws of baseballian averages and all that. With the left-batting John Bowker coming up, Leyland pulled Dolsi and put on…. Fernando Rodney. Mind you, Casey Fossum (A LEFTY) had been warming up alongside Fernando, and was at least as warm as he was. To be fair, that’s totally a Monday morning quarterback kinda thing to say, because at the time it did not seem like such an awful idea to bring Fernando in. He was fresh and pumped up and his last outing in the minors was apparently very very good, even if some of the outings he’d had just before it were not so hot.

Fernando made Bowker look like a whiffing fool on a couple of offspeed pitches, threw him a fastball high and outside for the heck of it, then hung a changeup too high and voila! Three run homer (2 runs charged to poor Dolsi).

He gave up two more runs on more mundane hits, getting a single out in the process, before Leyland finally hooked him. Fossum got the last out of the inning easily, all oh hey, yeah, you know, I was just over there, being warmed up, not giving up three run homers. Just sayin’. You know.

Welcome back, Fernando!

On the positive side of this game, The River Thames continued to hit the snotseams out of the baseball, blasting TWO home runs off of little Timmy Lincecum and sending Rod Allen into paroxysms of glee. I love Tigers home runs as much as the next cat, and I find Thames’ power as much fun to watch as anyone, but Rod Allen has SERIOUS all-consuming manlust for Marcus, or at the very least for his bat. We’re all happy when The River goes yard, but Rod absolutely LOST HIS KIBBLES, even busting out a “country strong” on us.

It is also worth nothing that The River’s last 7 hits have all been home runs. Weird, and weirdly compelling.

Tomorrow Kenny goes up against some kid with a boatload of Ks to his name. It’s at 10 pm again and will contain the hilarity of Kenny Rogers batting, so it should be marginally less than awful. Go Tigers!

making sure the bullpen horse is well and truly beaten into a dead, dead, dead pulp

photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Fernando Rodney is on the DL, with a set return time of who the hell knows. We basically already knew this; at least we knew that Fernando was not going to be a useful part of the bullpen when the season started, and that’s pretty much the same thing.

He appears to have persistent tendonitis without visible structural damage. As we’ve gone over a billion times before, this is really more a symptom than a cause. He has inflammation in his shoulder tendons. With lots and lots and lots of rest and ice and anti-inflammatory medication, maybe he can get his shoulder feeling OK again, but you know what? Tendonitis without a specific cause is an unholy terror, because it keeps coming back. After a point there’s little you can do to prevent it, aside from greatly reducing the behaviors that cause it. In Fernando’s case, that may be pitching (or at least pitching in the particularly zestful way that he does).

I’m not saying we need to toll the death knell for his career yet or anything like that. I’m sure the Tigers docs have a very lovely and aggressive anti-tendonitis plan in place for every pitcher on the team. This has been a very stubborn pain for Fernando, though. I’m just saying.

Anyways. Bondo’s been working on that changeup again. Check it:

“I’m getting to where I am comfortable with it,” Bonderman said after the Washington Nationals beat Detroit 9-1 on Tuesday. “In previous springs, I was trying to find a grip. Now, I have a changeup and I believe in it.”

Detroit Free Press article

Yeah, OK. I’ll believe in it when I see it have success in the first inning of a regular season game.

On a completely unrelated note, apparently Miss America is going to sing the national anthem for the first game of the season for the Tigers. I have seen this reported EVERYWHERE. This news is so utterly thrilling to me that I really can’t understand why we don’t have even MORE coverage of it. I mean, Miss America! The national anthem! Baseball! America! Miss America singing the national anthem! I’m so incredibly excited by this that I havzzzzzZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ…..

Fernando Rodney, man of glass

photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Now, Fernando holds a special (if tenuous) place in my heart, because he was born in Samana, DR, which I think we can all agree is one letter off from being a COMPLETELY AWESOME city name. And he has crazy pharaonic facial hair in an age of 2D goatees, which earns him definite points for bravery, if not necessarily for style.

That said, holy freaking cats is he frustrating to watch. Part of the problem is that when he doesn’t calm down on the mound, his fastball has a tendency to straighten out, with obvious results, and his offspeed stuff will go entirely off the wall (in a bad, crazy, can’t-spot-this-ball-to-save-anyone’s-life kinda way). Part of the problem is that he’s SO GOOD when he’s on a roll, so even when he’s not pitching well you have the bitter frustration of knowing he COULD be pitching well. But part of the problem is also the fact that, this past season, he was like one giant mass of injuries.

He had pretty mediocre (and small sample sized) ’02 and ’03 seasons, missed 2004 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, came back for a pretty good 2005, had a pretty darn good 2006, and hit a wall of agony in 2007 at the ripe old age of 30. Weird, eh? He pitched more than tolerably when he wasn’t injured, but he spent far too much time injured to be ignored.

The worrying thing, to me, is that none of his hurtiness in ’07 was the result of a major injury. I know that might sound counter-intuitive, but if he had broken his arm while covering first base or had his ankle snapped by a bouncing comebacker, I would feel like the problem was just rotten luck and not necessarily the deterioration of his connective tissues. Even if he had a more major medical event like a ruptured tendon or a stress fracture… those can be treated and avoided, and could also have a strong flavor of the freak accident about them.

What Fernando had, though, was a kind of persistent muscle soreness all season. Check it:

He felt stiffness in his neck while throwing last spring but didn’t report it to medical officials until his velocity dropped and his control waned in mid-April. Then came biceps tendinitis, which led to a stint on the disabled list from late May into early June. A few weeks later, he was back on the DL with a sore forearm and shoulder.

DetroitTigers.com article

Stiffness in his neck. That could be, oh, any one of about a BILLION things.

Biceps tendonitis SOUNDS all official-like, but the reality is that biceps tendonitis is a description of a problem that is really more often a symptom than a causal problem all its own. Biceps tendonitis is, technically, an inflammation in the tendon that connects your biceps to your shoulder bits, which causes pain and swelling and woe. While this can result from overuse of that particular tendon itself, it can also be a secondary symptom as a result of a labrum tear or a rotator cuff injury. Further complicating matters is the fact that, if a baseball team knows that their pitcher has soreness in the general area between his bicep and his shoulder, and they don’t really know what the heck it is, they might throw the term ‘biceps tendonitis’ out to the public just to make his time on the DL seem legit. It might be something else entirely. A ‘baseball diagnosis’ of biceps tendonitis tells us very little about what’s actually the matter with a dude’s arm (and, if the team doesn’t know any more than that, it tells them very little about how to actually fix it).

Then we had the always fun “sore forearm and shoulder”. Is this a separate muscle strain/fatigue issue? Is this a compensation issue due to his OTHER injuries? How sore is sore? WE MAY NEVER KNOW.

And now we get mysterious shoulder tightness keeping Fernando out of spring training games, realtime. Charming. I do so love nothing more than the continuation of an alarming injury trend.

You see my concern, right? Instead of a major Zumayan injury as a direct result of Fate hating his guts, Fernando instead has a series of nagging, hard-to-pin-down muscle injuries. This makes it sound A LOT like there’s a problem in either

a) his pitching motion (angle of release? lack of consistency? violence of overall motion?), or

b) his actual muscles.

We can only hope it’s the former, because that can be fixed, or at least the trainers and coaches can try. If there’s a problem with his muscles, we may be looking at (even more) bullpen-related trouble soon enough.

Tigers bullpen puts the game on a platter


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Here you go, A’s! Here, have the game! You want it? Take it! We don’t want it anymore!

What’s that you say? Every other team that we needed to lose actually lost today, so if we win we could pick up some much-needed ground? Ha! Double ha! That is CONVENTIONAL baseball theory! We have a new plan for this year, a plan based on UNconventional thinking, which means that we lose when everyone else seems to think that we should win! This way, we take people by surprise! And we love having the element of surprise!

What? Oh, you think that by giving up this game we’re wasting a nice little offensive performance from the B-lineup, which would be a great general morale-booster for the team? Maybe so, my elephantine friend, maybe so, but we prefer to think of it as motivation to hit more runs. Loads more! Because 7 runs should never be considered a safe lead!

Let us serve you up a NICE DISH OF GAME. Yum yum!

In case you missed this one, Nate went 6 innings and gave up 2 runs. The Tigers put up 7 runs through 5 innings to back him. Then Fernando Rodney came in and gave up 3 runs over 0.1 innings, all of them on a series of agonizing-to-watch singles. Todd Jones came in to pitch the 9th with a 7-5 lead (much reduced, of course, from 7-0, but still a lead that should have been enough…) and promptly gave up a single, followed just as promptly by a two-run homer from infant catcher Kurt Suzuki. He also had a dicey wild pitch.

Bazardo gave up the winning run, but tonight’s game should never have come down to him. Jonsey is the closer, not Bazardo, and (one would assume) there’s a good reason for that.

The Racist Logos lost today, the Mariners lost today, the Yankees lost today. We HAD to win, and it looked like we were going to win. Alas, the bullpen had to have its say. It’s like they just don’t want to have to play the extra month.

(sidenote: If you want to read me being depressed about Michigan football, there you go.)

Fernando Rodney does it again


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

If you treat the phrase “Fernando Rodney does it again” as an algebraic formula, then “it” would be the variable, and in this case “it” equals “blows a game by failing to keep a small baseball in a very large ballpark.”

I’m bringing back this tiger, because I think he’s the only thing that can make me crack a smile after Fernando does his little “whoops I’m bad at basball!” dance yet again.

Have I mentioned how much I dislike Fernando Rodney? I’m pretty sure that I have. What a loathsome pitcher. I think what really rubs me the wrong way is the fact that Fernando has this kind of hard-throwing control-issue-riddled pitching style that seems like it would be perfectly appropriate for a young guy. You know, some punk kid reliever who thinks his mediocre (i.e. Zumayan) flameballing ways are enough to cut it in the majors. Then the kid acts all mad and sulky and outraged when his control deserts him, all, “How DARE my control do this to ME?”

That’s excusable (‘tho still laughable) in a young guy. Not so much in Fernando Rodney, who is 30 YEARS OLD, and definitely still acts like that on the mound. Even if we ignored his results this season (which I am not doing), this would get my hackles up.

In his usual stylish way, Fernando did not just lose the game today; he managed to lose a closely-played game, thus making things much more agonizing. THANKS PANTSLOADS, Fernando.

Mike Maroth threw a pretty damn good game for someone who actually threw a fairly awful game. The way he chips at the sides of the strike zone… ugh, it’s like watching a bloody sculptor work on a block of marble. Chip. Chip. Chip. Tiny little flakes… it’s infuriating. You start thinking that you’ve never seen someone chip so tentatively and weakly at the strike zone as Maroth does. But eventually the sculpture takes shape, and if that shape has the form of a 7 inning game with only 1 run given up on 9 hits and 4 walks, well…. that’s not a masterpiece, but that’s not a hideous sculpture at all. Sigh. Again, thanks Fernando.

Now everybody can see why Verlander’s no-hitter was so good for the Tigers on every level. The fact that he was pitching so well meant that Leyland was going to make every effort to throw him out there for all 9 innings, which meant: no bullpen! Which is good! Because the bullpen is starting to make a habit of doing THINGS LIKE THIS.

Anyways! Don’t forget the campaign to get Placido Polanco into his rightful spot on the All Star roster!

The cat’s name is Izzy.

Oh, and if anyone saw a crazy kid in a bright orange Tigers hat suddenly look up to the sky in the PetsMart parking lot today and blow a blatant kiss to a seagull circling overhead… that was me, and I’m not sorry at all.

doomed from the start(er)


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Six batters faced, six runs, four hits, two walks, one home run, and no outs. That was Nate Robertson’s work for the day.

Six runs aren’t something the Tigers are incapable of making up. We’re talking about a lineup whose worst current member is hitting .225 and had 2 hits today, one of them an RBI single and the other a home run– WITH a broken toe. We’re talking about a lineup with 4 guys batting over .300 (since Omar was leading off today) and one guy nearly there (Pudge, at .295). Six runs, pshaw. We spit upon your six runs.

Alas, six runs against us BEFORE A SINGLE OUT IS EVEN RECORDED in our half of the inning, to start the game off… well. That’s not a lead that needs to be made up or a deficit that needs to be overcome. That’s a freakin’ handicap. And this ain’t no golf tournament.

I don’t know what’s wrong with Nate. Jim Leyland doesn’t know what’s wrong with Nate. Nate doesn’t know what’s wrong with Nate. But there has to be SOMEthing wrong, because Nate CAN pitch. We’ve seen it in the past. This kind of outing was what you would expect from a Little League pitcher confronted by Major League hitters. It was not the kind of outing you expect to see from a pretty seasoned veteran, which is what Nate, you know, technically is.

Robertson said he’s fine physically, but is at a loss to explain why he’s struggling.

“This is easily my worst stretch in the majors,” he said, “and what happened tonight has never happened to me.”
Detroit News article

No kiddin’, Nate. I would venture to say that most Major League starters don’t have something like this happen to them very often, probably because a pitcher is not going to have more than a couple chances to LET something like this happen before he’s labeled a liability and gotten the hell off the team.

The bullpen-minus-Fernando, to its vast credit, did step it up. Grilli, Miner, and Byrdak combined to go 7 scoreless innings before Fernando came in to give up an ultimately meaningless but still soul-sucking final run. Like the game hadn’t been enough of an indignity, we had to have that “Hey look Fernando’s off the DL but he still blows chunks” moment to complete the picture of defeat. Thank goodness it’s all back to normal on his end.

Oh, and in an attempt to dig himself a deeper hole, Gary Sheffield has elaborated on his statements about those easily-controlled Latin ballplayers.

Tigers right fielder Gary Sheffield says he loves Latinos, he’s never had a problem with them and they love him back.
official site article

LOL.

“They found [Tampa Bay’s] Elijah Dukes. Here’s a kid, like I said before, ‘If you don’t show the love as an organization toward a kid and show that you care about him as a person, he’s not going to listen to the authority figure because he ain’t going to be disrespected,’ and I know exactly where he is coming.”
official site article

Of course, Sheff. Elijah Dukes threatens to kill his wife and children because the Tampa Bay Devil Ray organization didn’t show him enough respect. I’m sure Elijah Dukes impregnated that many different women (what was it, four? five?) because Joe Maddon doesn’t treat him like a Man in the clubhouse. Good call, Sheff. Glad to see you’ve penetrated the depths of this sadly maligned character and set us all to rights.

If you read the rest of the article you can see that once again Sheffield makes a couple potentially valid points, but these points get dragged down in the flaming bag of dog excrement that is his apparent worldview. AS USUAL.

Ugh. NOT THINKING ABOUT HIM. Let’s end the post on an upbeat note.

comedic moment of the game

Placido Polanco had a most curious and excellent hit-by-pitch today. Rheinecker threw a ball that buzzed his waist and caught some of his jersey. Instead of just brushing past his jersey, though, the ball somehow managed to blow Polanco’s ENTIRE jersey out of his pants.

I have no idea how this happened, even after seeing it in slow motion. One minute: pants tucked neatly in. Next minute: nightshirt. He had to head to first with his jersey flopping around dangerously close to his knees, and the camera showed a very brief shot of him with his belt undone, attempting to hastily cram it all back into his pants before play continued.

That, along with Brandon Inge’s home run, provided a smile in an otherwise mostly smile-free game.

"Tigers are dropping like flies."


illustration by Samara Pearlstein

That’s what Rod Allen said during the game today. “Tigers are dropping like flies.” He wasn’t talking about the standings, although he could have been; the Devil Rays had another curiously effective game today, and the Racist Logos squeaked one out from under the Red Sox to up their divisional lead to 2.5 games. No, Rod was talking about injuries.

Injuries! The bane of any team’s existence. You can have the best team in baseball and it won’t do you a lick of good if the injury bug (fly?) gets into their soup. I mean, look at this.

Healed: Placido Polanco, Jeremy Bonderman.

Polanco had that side/stomach/oblique/rum tum tum strain, or whatever it is, that sidelined him for a few games. Luckily, he’s back, and it doesn’t seem to be lingering… although its returnability is yet to be seen. Bondo had his finger all blistered, and if his last outing was any indication, he has fully and gloriously recovered from that.

Busted up: Kenny Rogers, Vance Wilson, Joel Zumaya, Fernando Rodney, Carlos Guillen, Brandon Inge. Oh hell, let’s throw in Roman Colon too.

Kenny, of course, exploded his shoulder before we even had a chance to properly miss him. Woe and sadness and all that. It’s hard to say precisely how much we’ve missed him (especially since Durbin’s been more passable than expected, as I keep finding ways to say in nearly every post), but I think it’s pretty fair to say that we’ve missed him in three distinct ways:

1. Lots.
2. Tons.
3. Badly.

Vance Wilson (wasn’t he supposed to be back by now?) might not be as sorely missed as some think. His average last season was pretty unVanceian and I guess there’s no real reason to think that he would repeat it. We probably do miss him defensively, though. There’s no way Rabelo is as good with the pitchers as (according to the pitchers themselves, anyhow) Vance is. Was. Is. Whatever. Seriously, wasn’t he supposed to be back by now? Maybe he’s dead. That would be tragic.

Zoom, as we all know, destroyed his finger simply by throwing a pitch. He’ll be back as soon as they finish fashioning a bionic finger for him- they’re waiting on the adamantium. In the meantime, we miss his power and the intimidation factor he brought to the bullpen. The rest of the league does not miss him.

Fernando has biceps tendonitis, which is basically this:

Biceps tendonitis (also called bicipital tendonitis) is an inflammation of the long tendon of the biceps muscle, which is located in a bony groove of the upper arm bone (the ball-and-socket joint). The tendon becomes swollen and inflamed as a result of repetitious lifting, especially overhead lifting with the arms held outstretched. The swelling and inflammation weakens the tendon; unusually heavy lifting while the tendon is irritated can lead to tendon rupture. In most cases the inflammation will resolve over several weeks with an absolute limitation of lifting.
UpToDate patient information

Assuming no actual damage has been done to the tendon, he should heal so long as he actually rests. All this does is thin out our bullpen even more. Woe, and woe again.

Carlos grounded out today and grounded right into a “mild left groin strain,” which could mean that he’s back in two days, or it could mean that he will never walk or make babies again. Only time and perhaps MRIs will tell. I suppose we’re obliged to be happy that it’s not his knee, because I’m not sure how many mentions of Carlos Guillen’s Surgically Repaired Knee I can take before I lose my mind and start drawing his various injured body parts with little eyes and mouths and have them playing a game of baseball all by themselves or something.

Kneecap at third! Groin tendony bits pitching! Get well soon Carlos, seriously, no one needs to see that.

Brandon Inge. Sigh. Brandon Inge got his toe broken by a pitch. CURSES BE UPON THE DEVIL RAYS. CURSES BE UPON ALL WHO DAMAGE THE SACRED PERSON OF BRANDON INGE. They dared to break his toe! WE SHALL BREAK THEIR SPIRITS. Uh, not this series, obviously, but, you know….. eventually.

Because he’s Brandon Inge, of course, he couldn’t even get his toe broken by a Zumayan fastball or anything like that.

“It hurts,” he said, and removed his sock to brandish a deep red and purple bruise, both on the top and bottom of the toe.

“It’s amazing, [the pitch] was 71 mph. That’s why I was like, ‘I’m not even coming out of this game.’ Nobody would believe a 71-mph curve ball [could do that]. They’d be like, ‘Oh, Inge is a little sissy.'”
MLB.com article

Sigh. SIGH. They say he can play on it so long as it’s properly braced and he’s shot full of pain meds, so I guess he’ll be doing that as soon as the swelling goes down and he can actually fit it in his cleat without collapsing on the ground in a sobbing mess of agony. It’s killing me to think about this, it really is. BLEEPING BLEEP BLEEP DEVIL RAYS.

Oh, and I just threw Colon in there because I’m sure that if he wasn’t DLed (something to do with his neck, wasn’t it? or am I thinking of someone else?), he would be a great help, since our bullpen is all smoke and mirrors and Wilfredo Ledezma these days.

Now we have to play the Racist Logos again. No more tiger-flies dropping, guys! We can’t spare another body. One more person puts a sneeze out of line, and I’m breaking out the bubble wrap and the duct tape, and everyone can learn how to play ball through that.

nobody knuckle(ball)s under


photo by Samara Pearlstein

Same format as the last game. I’m already so backlogged on photos it isn’t even funny, and I’m gonna have a whole other game’s worth to get through by the end of Wednesday (weather permitting). This is driving me NUTS, because my apartment may be a testament to the glorious organizational system known as “piles of stuff”, but I’m obsessive about my photos.

You’re getting little previews with these header photos, so there’s that.

1. Sean Casey, nicest dude ever? Possibly. He had signed a good amount before Monday’s game, and signed even more today. This after having gone 0-fer the day before, so if he chose to be a grump, it would have been understood. But no, not the Mayor. I dunno. He never seems grudging or annoyed by “having” to interact with the fans. When you’re always being pestered by fans, that’s probably pretty freakin’ hard to pull off, and Sean Casey does it.

2. Today, just like yesterday, only backwards and a day later. This was, as my dad pointed out, very much like the mirror version of the previous game, where Verlander sat in for Matsuzaka (starter, great and dominant outing, win), Wake sat in for Nate (starter, not-so-hot outing, not as bad as the line showed though), and Brendan Donnelly sat in for Bobby Seay (FAIL).

3. Verlanderrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. What an outing. That fastball was scorching today, and it set up his curve beautifully. Fenway did that whole ‘gasp, mutter mutter mutter’ thing when he hit 100, and the fact that he was able to keep his velocity up over the entire course of his long outing was EXTREMELY heartening. It WAS a warm night, which may have had something to do with it; his arm probably wouldn’t stiffen up as badly as it would on a cold or damp night. Regardless, it was fun to watch and it was a great break for the bullpen, which sorely needed it.

4. I think Carlos Guillen might have allergies. He came up to the dugout during BP and had a violent sneezing fit, which was equal parts hilarious and icky. The (assistant, I think) trainer started muttering about Claritin and waved Carlos into the clubhouse. Maybe you had to be there; just trust me, his abject sneezing was pretty funny at the time.

5. Mike Lowell is unstoppable and it’s kind of scary even to the Red Sox fan bits of my brain. Some of the picks he was making… you just had to shake your head and whistle a little and accept that there was nothing anybody could do about that. He got Brandon Inge on a spectacular grab in the 7th, and I hope that Brandon was paying very close attention and added it to his own catalog of possible plays. Mike Lowell: a lesson for us all.

6. We have some problems with the knuckleball. There was that one bad inning for Wakefield, where he gave up 4 runs in the third on two home runs by Brandon (a one-out solo shot) and Magglio (a two-out three-run effort). It’s like for that one inning, the knuckleball wasn’t jumping, but it seemed to be fine for the rest of the game, and Wake was mixing it up in his own peculiar way, throwing in 85 mph fastballs and, to our great amusement, a 61 mph ‘curve’ (when we saw it we burst out laughing before we even saw the speed. It was ridiculous-looking. It also wasn’t hit, so there you are). Sheffield was way late on a bunch of knuckleballs (and c’mon, shouldn’t he be used to Wake by now?) and poor Polanco just looked baffled. It’s funny how some of the guys with the best bat speeds seem to have the most issues with the knuckler.

If there were a lot of knuckleballers in the league, this would be a major problem. I think we’re good, though. And we looked like ACE knuckleball hitters in that third inning.

7. This is the second great big Brandon Inge home run I’ve seen live this season, and only my third Tigers game. Obviously Brandon Inge hits better when I’m in the crowd. All he needs is a little love, you guys!

8. Detroit Tigers, always learnin’. Interesting little scene during BP today. Sheffield and Pudge were both waiting to hit. Sheffield started asking Pudge about his batting stance. So Pudge started demonstrating his stance, gesturing to emphasize parts of it, with Sheffield standing there imitating it back at him and asking more questions. It was just neat to see, and I guess a point in Sheff’s favor, that he’s willing to ask questions of his teammates and not be a snobbish coprolite of a loner like he has been on some of his former teams.

9. Don’t be fooled by imitators. At Comerica, you can get Dippin’ Dots, ice cream of the FUTURE (for those of you who have not experienced the glory, Dippin’ Dots are little superfrozen pellets of ice cream. They are also delicious). The presence of Dippin’ Dots at a baseball game delights me, as I had previously associated them mostly with Lions games (therefore: sadness). So you may understand my excitement when a vendor came around in Fenway today selling “Dippin’ Dots”.

Not so! These alleged Dippin’ Dots are in fact a knockoff version called IttiBitz. They’re fairly tasty, but the texture is all wrong. Forewarned is forearmed. Tread carefully, kids.

10. Fernando Rodney did not manage to blow the game. This deserves its own little blurb, just for the sheer fact of it. Each time this happens, it is like a tiny fluffy kitten that must be cuddled and enjoyed, because you never know when you go to pick it up for more cuddling, and instead you get attacked by a ball of hate and sharp claws.