Category Archives: Vance

Vance Wilson lashes elbow together with twine, tries to play baseball again

photo by Samara Pearlstein

Blast from the highly injured past! It looks like Vance Wilson, backup catcher extraordinaire, sometimes known about these parts as “44th Round” in mostly-fond reference to his 1993 draft position, has signed a minor league deal with the Royals.

We all have warm memories of this old friend and his 2006 season, which was the last time he appeared in the majors. Yes, 2006, that heady year, when even the backup catcher batted over .280. Delicious.

Following the ’06 season, of course, Wilson’s elbow exploded, requiring Tommy John surgery on the same elbowy bits TWICE, in rapid succession. You have to admire it. Most 36-year-old catchers who had to undergo massive arm surgery and have been out of the game for two full seasons would probably figure it’s about time to hang up the good ol’ sneezeguard, but Vance Wilson will not be denied.

Hilarious interlude: Have you always secretly (or not so secretly) wanted to own a pair of VANCE WILSON GAMEWORN PANTS? Starting bid of $19.99 on eBay right now! The perfect gift for that weird, creepy, and cheerfully tacky scarily obsessive Tigers and/or Mets fan in your life.

I kind of wish the Tigers had signed him; if he does manage to come back it would have been fun to see him do it in the Tigers system. I suppose he has a slightly better chance of actually making it up to the big club if he plays for the Royals, though.

So here’s to you, Vancepants! Best of luck to you, your career, and your elbowy bits in 2009.

the early Tiger gets the delicious feast (hopefully more than worms)


photo by Roger DeWitt

Imagine a sound. A high-pitched, keening sound of sheer wordless glee. A sound accompanied by hopping around. That’s approximately the sound I made when I saw that hueytaxi (of Motown Sports) had posted photos of REAL LIVE TIGERS out doing REAL ACTUAL BASEBALL TRAINING!!

YAY!

Obviously the guys are just warming up, working out, gettin’ some reps in. Mr. DeWitt reminded me that the guys who showed up (Verlander and Seay, as pictured above, apparently along with Ryan Raburn and Javair Gillett, the trainer) have homes in Florida, so it’s not like they’re exactly going out of their way to report at this ridiculously early date. That’s cool. It’s still January. I can wait for baseball. It’s not like I’m gnawing my own hands off or anything OH HOLY CATS WHY ISN’T THERE BASEBALL YET WHY, CRUEL UNIVERSE, WHY??

So, yeah, when I saw even a few Tigers out and about, doing baseball-ish things, it warmed my frenetic little heart even more than the unseasonable January thaw (it’s crrrrazy out here).

Look at their happy smiling sunny faces! Look at Bobby Seay’s beard! Look at Verlander totally not wearing MLB-issued apparel!

Squeeeee!

Oh, and while you’re here on the Internet, check out this official Tigers article about our catching situation. Basically it sounds like Vance Wilson is our man for the backup spot. The article tagline is “Rodriguez, Wilson give Tigers veteran duo behind the plate,” which is a very very nice way of saying that our catchers are OLD. Both of them. So old.

“I’m feeling good,” Wilson said. “I’m getting there.”

“One day you feel great, the next day you don’t,” Wilson said. “It’s kind of one of those things where I’d be disappointed if I’m not ready for Opening Day, but I’m not going to set any goals.”
DetroitTigers.com article

My concerns have not exactly been assuaged.

so THAT'S what the lineup looks like without Polanco or Guillen or Pudge


a very :( Vance Wilson, photo by Samara Pearlstein

Hm. I don’t think I like it much.

Of course this game wasn’t REALLY the fault of absent-Polanco or absent-Carlos or absent-Pudge. The lineup held their own today, and it was the pitching that dropped the ball. Chad Durbin was not very pimp. I’m not complaining (yet); we still can’t expect too much out of him. Ledezma’s outing did not really inspire the greatest joy in my soul, but… such is our bullpen.

Still, I can’t help but wonder what might have happened if Polanco and/or Guillen and/or Pudge were in there… I mean, that 9th inning comeback involved the middle part of the order. We ALMOST had them! Polanco and Guillen are both good solid hitters who are likely to make contact and get on base in a situation like that. A couple more guys on base in that inning and we at least tie it up. OH, THE MIGHT-HAVE-BEENS!

Everyone’s gotta rest some time or other, though. I understand that. I do not begrudge Polanco his rest (poor dude’s got a virus), I do not begrudge Pudge his extremely rare days off (his much-abused ancient catcher’s body!) and I most certainly do no begrudge Carlos Guillen, Carlos Guillen’s groin, or Carlos Guillen’s Surgically Repaired Knee their day off. And of course I know that this was just one game (actually, no, I’m having a hallucination that involves time expanding like an accordion, so this game was actually 250 GAMES IN ONE. Yeah, your mind is blown, I know). But… everyone with an off-day at once?

The attempted comeback in the 9th still gives you that ‘ehhhh, we could have HAD this one’ feeling, and that’s hard to shake.
Also hard to shake: Craig Monroe’s complete and baffling inability to make contact with the ball today. Five strikeouts in 9 innings… good lord. I’m assuming this was merely a freakish occurrence that WILL NOT BE REPEATED, DO YOU HEAR ME, CRAIG? but I’m more concerned that this freak thing will send Craig off some sort of mental cliff, and he’ll be too psyched out to play baseball effectively for a while. Hopefully I am as wrong as it is possible to get and tomorrow he comes out and hits two home runs or something.

Sigh. Anyways.

Bad news for the small but extremely dedicated Vance Wilson fan club. Tommy John surgery on his elbow knocks Vance out for 9-12 months. Ouch. That could very well cut into next year; in fact I expect that it almost certainly would. Due to his age and to the type of wear that a catcher’s arm undergoes (no ‘relief catchers’ after every 5-6-7 innings…), I’m guessing that Vance will be at the upper end of that recovery time range.

You’ve got to feel for the guy. He’s an eternal backup, he finally finds a team where he’s appreciated enough to get a multi-year deal, he’s finally starting to get his bat in order, people actually LIKE him, gosh darn it… and he goes and blows his elbow to smithereens. He’s also 34, and will be 35 by the time he comes back from this surgery. Bearing in mind that 33 is starting to get into the upper end of effectiveness for GREAT catchers like Posada and Varitek and Pudge, and you have to wonder if Vance will even be able to come back from this at all.

So, small but dedicated Vance Wilson fan club: does loyalty revert to Mike Rabelo, or do you start dredging the minors for The Next Big Backup?

Aaaaand don’t forget, Placido Polanco is still leading the polls, but he and other Tigers need YOUR support in the All Star game if they are to get the recognition they so very richly deserve. Vote early, vote often!

I admit to being a little more conflicted about Maggs… at least with Polanco, there is NO contest, he is the best second baseman in the AL. Ze end. There are lots of really good AL outfielders, though, and you can only pick three. Magglio has been hitting so well this year that you really have to take him into consideration, though, and add him to your ballot. It is only fair.

And you’re a fair person, aren’t you? Don’t you like… justice? And… freedom? If you are not a filthy terrorist, vote Magglio Ordonez!

Tiger bats suddenly become tiny kitten bats


illustration by Samara Pearlstein

What, all of a sudden we’re offensed out? Or is Jorge Sosa really THAT good? I guess he’s really that good, because the bats sure seemed like they were on a roll coming out of Texas. Tonight they were kept runless and helpless like teeny tiny little kittens whose fuzzy little kitten paws are far too small and weak to pick up a real baseball bat. Feel that tug at your heartstrings, dontcha?

It’s especially sad because Chad Durbin was back to his pimping ways again. If you’re new to Roar of the Tigers you might not be aware of it, but Chad Durbin is a pimp, and has pitched pimptacularly several times already this season, despite all expectations to the contrary.


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

So far this season it seems that Durbin has three pitching modes:

1. Terrible. This is what everyone expects (expected?) him to be. He was supposed to just be rotation-filler until Kenny Rogers recovered from his vascular explosion.
2. Serviceable. This is what everyone hoped he would be, at the absolute best. Nothing spectacular, but just good enough to give the Tigers a fighting chance during his starts.
3. Pimp. This is what he’s been… I think this is the 5th time this season. A pimp start is when Chad Durbin absolutely dominates the snot out of the opposition in a way that is completely shocking when you consider his past baseball history.

Five pimp starts out of 12 so far, that’s pretty bloody good for someone who was supposed to be the pitching version of feeder crickets.

This particular start was an example of Chad Durbin’s pimpin’ ways because he only gave up 6 hits and 3 runs over 8 innings. Two of the runs were single-shot homers to David Wright and Carlos Delgado, and I think it’s only fair to forgive any pitcher who gives up home runs to David Wright and Carlos Delgado. The other run was a guy he put on base who was inherited and dumped in by Byrdak.

He threw 84 pitches over 8 innings (and he pitched to 2 guys in the 9th). Of the 8 innings he pitched, FIVE of them were 1-2-3 innings. Except for the home runs, and when he lost it a little bit at the very end, Durbin was DEALING and ROLLING. Very pimp, yes? I think we can all agree on that.

The bats today, not so pimp. Like I said, tiny little kittens in thrall to the giant baseball head of Mr. Met up top there.

Also not pimp is the news that Vance Wilson, who’s been DLed for a while now with a nonspecific wonky forearm (I guess they’re calling it a torn muscle now, but I don’t remember when they started calling it that… weren’t we not sure if it was a pinched nerve or what?), says that he’s reaggravated the injury and could miss the rest of the year.

Now, Rabelo hasn’t been hitting too badly of late (.286!), and Vance fresh off an injury wouldn’t be likely to hit his own weight even if he WAS coming back soon, but this still doesn’t make me happy. I suppose it’s because that flimsy illusion of depth at the catcher position is getting even flimsier. What if, cats forbid, Pudge gets hurt? A catching tandem of Vance and Rabelo would not equal Pudge, of course, but it might get us through the season. Rabelo by himself could not. What if Rabelo gets hurt? What do we do, run a 35-year-old Pudge into the ground and call up Dane Sardinha? Oy.

Tomorrow is Oliver Perez/Bondo, although I will be watching Michigan struggle against Oregon State. The exciting matchup anyways is Sunday, where we get Tom Glavine/Andrew Miller in the great battle of the ages.

"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.

of arteries and clots

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

So. SO. Mr. Rogers has a blood clot in his shoulder.

There’s a good Q & A in the Freep about thoracic outlet syndrome, which is what they maybe possibly perhaps think this could be. As usual, the team does not see fit to release a ton of information on exactly what’s going on, but it seems like they’ve said more than usual this time ’round… in the official site article they say that:

Instead of a minor procedure, doctors had to do some artery replacement. The operation removed a clot and repaired both the axillary and brachial arteries. The brachial artery runs down the arm before splitting into two arteries. The axillary artery is located in the upper chest and runs blood to the head and arms.

MLB.com article

WOW! Actual information! We pretty much never get that. Usually it’s “Ballplayer A felt something in his arm. It felt like a kitten digging its tiny little needle claws into his muscle. Team doctors think it’s maybe a thing, you know, in his arm. Or with his arm. Not necessarily in. Just, you know, involving the arm in some way. Oh and he’ll be out for 12 weeks.”

I’m curious about the fact that they repaired both the axillary and brachial arteries, however. The passage up there doesn’t make it entirely clear, but the brachial artery is actually a continuation of the axillary artery, like so:

illustration exclusive to Roar of the Tigers

Artery repairs generally involve taking part of a bit of some other blood vessel (usually from the leg; I went into that in a lot more detail when I wrote about Dingman’s surgery). So Rogers needed to have this done in two separate stretches of the same artery, basically? What the heck kind of clot WAS this? UBERCLOT? CLOTZILLA??

Thoracic outlet syndrome occurs when muscles over- or mis-develop in the shoulder, or a mis-angled bone (or an extra one, I guess) is present– basically anything to compress the part of the shoulder called, durrr, the thoracic outlet, which is kinda like the space between your collarbone and ribs and bony shoulder. Like so:

Illustration exclusive to Roar of the Tigers

As you can see in the image there, the axillary artery feeds through the thoracic outlet. Compression of the outlet therefore compresses the artery. If it’s compressed a bit you have blood cells bumping up against the walls more often and are more likely to get a clot there (like how people with high cholesterol get plaque in their blood vessels, which makes them more narrow, and more likely to host a clot). If it’s compressed even more, the artery itself might be damaged by it, possibly torn.

(now that I think about it, is that what intially happened to ol’ Dinger?)

Apparently, Kenny’s PREVIOUS shoulder injury most definitely WAS thoracic outlet syndrome, and he had surgery to remove a (I guess extraneous, or at least non-essential) rib which was compressing the area. The MLB article previously linked says that there was “surgery to clear an artery,” but there’s no indication of whether this means the artery was ‘cleared’ just by having the rib-created pressure on it eased, or if they actually had to go in there and remove a clot.

I have a hard time believing that his only issue this time ’round is the same thoracic outlet syndrome, I guess because the brachial artery is outside of the thoracic outlet, and as I said before, it’s reported that he had repairs in that artery as well. I hope it wasn’t an embolism (a blood clot that breaks loose of its forming site and travels throughout the bloodstream, looking for more harmful places to lodge, like in the lungs or brain); those buggers are freakin’ scary.

In fact the whole concept of a blood clot in the shoulder is pretty scary for a pitcher, if only because it can probably go undiagnosed for quite some time. The symptoms include some things like numb or tingling sensations in the fingers and a general tired or heavy sensation in the arm that, well…. they sound an awful lot like regular ‘tired arm’ pitching symptoms. It’s a little worrying to think that a guy who doesn’t know his arm very well yet (think last year’s Verlander, asking Bondo and Kenny time and again if his arm fatigue was normal) might just assume that it’s regular pitching pain and not get it looked at until it’s become legitimately dangerous.

Eeeek.

Usual disclaimer on all that: me no surgun, me on’y dum lil’ art stoodent, no know big doctor wurdz.

In other When It Rains, It Pours, And Then You Realize You’re Wearing A White Tshirt news, Vance Wilson ALSO managed to get himself DLed with mysterious arm pain that (he claims) is not tendonitis and is more nerve-related. He describes the pain as a “pinching sensation”, and it’s distracting enough that he can’t throw, which is a rather important part of that whole catching job thing.

In his place we get…. Mike Rabelo.

So saith Jim Leyland, on the topic of Rabes:

“He’s got talent,” Leyland said. “and he’s wound up tighter than a clock. I think once he gets around our atmosphere and everything, I think he’ll relax and I think he’s got a lot of ability. I like him. He’s one of those guys, just watching him, that wants to do good so bad that sometimes it works against him.”

MLB.com article

Sounds like he’s an eager beaver, but the kind of eager beaver that gnaws on the tree too fast, so that the tree comes crashing down on his eager beaver skull. Woo.

Since we don’t have nearly the same amount of information about Vance’s injury as we do about Kenny’s, I can’t exactly whip up some psuedo-scientific illustrations for it. He did describe it as a pinching sensation in his nerves, though, so I offer you this appropriately pinched nerve.

the Great Seed Chucking Battle of Spring Training 07


photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

The game was televised today, joy of joys, meaning that we got treated to things most marvelous: Rod and Mario! Interviews with various players! Players harassing each other while being interviewed!
I missed the first few innings due to scholarly things, but I took bemused notes on the rest of it, and here you have them.


Rod says there are the only two major leaguers to ever have 30 or more HRs with 5 different teams, and those two guys are Fred McGriff and Sheffield. I think this says less about the hitting ability of Sheff and McGriff (which no one doubts), and more about their attitudes; if you hit that well, why on earth would you be switching teams that often? Probably because you’re a wanker.

Craig’s knee, worry worry. Knee injuries tend to linger and tend to reflare and tend to be pretty easy to reaggravate in baseball… look at how they get torqued around when a batter twists his body. Craig HAS to play outfield too, we already have a bit of a logjam at 1B/DH. More things to concern me as we head towards the season proper.

This one’s for all the Vance Wilson fangirls in da house, yo.

Rod: Vance Wilson, backing up Pudge again this year… in my opinion, the best catching tandem in all of baseball.
Mario: I agree.
Rod: Between him and Pudge Rodriguez last year, they committed just THREE errors. You can’t run on them, they block balls in the dirt, they just do a tremendous job of handling the pitching staff.

I had NO idea they only committed three errors (and am far too tired/lazy to check Rod’s claims there). I don’t know about the BEST catching tandem, but day-um, that’s pretty bloody good.

Mario: Check out the bouncy house out there Rod [referring to the big inflatable tiger-striped structure in the outfield where small children can jump around and squeal to their heart’s content]. We’ve gotta do a broadcast from out there one day.
Rod: I’d get dizzy out there…. that’s for the little peeps.

Apparently just two lefties (Thome and Morneau) homered off of Nate last year.

VERLANDER INTERVIEW
Mario: What’s up with the hair?
[Verlander has this bizarre pseudo emo hair goin’ on, with big chunky shaggy bangs]
JV: Yeah, I’m trying to go Magglio-style, grow it out, it’s kinda in the awkward stage.
[Maggs’ hair works because it’s curly. Justin’s hair is straight as straw and manifestly does NOT work]

Someone is throwing stuff at him. It is… he says Mike. Maroth? I think they’re seeds. Mike Maroth is chucking seeds at Verlander from off camera. Roar of the Tigers proudly brings you this vital spring training bulletin.

Verlander says he asked Kenny and Bondo about his arm pain every day because he was so green last season that he didn’t know if it was fatigue or actual injury, since he’s not used to pitching that much and had no idea what to expect in the way of arm soreness.

Rod: Rumor has it you bought a little toy there in the offseason.
[everyone laughs… I immediately think, “Holy cats, he bought himself a vibrator??”]
Verlander: Ha ha, yeah… [shyly] it’s an 07 911 Turbo Porsche… it’s pretty fast… I like it.”
Mario and Rod together: PRETTY fast??!?!?
Rod: Well good for you, you earned it.
[everyone laughs]

Guys are getting a lot of walks, but I think that’s more because the DRays are having pitching issues than because anyone’s being particularly patient. I want to believe, but I’ll need some real season, longterm proof before I declare the team’s patience issues even partially resolved.

EXCEPTIONAL MENTAL MAKEUP MIKE INTERVIEW
He freely admits that he was throwing seeds at Verlander, now Verlander is behind him ready to sneakily chuck seeds or something at Maroth.

He’s got a buzz cut and he’s wearing a light blue polo style collared short sleeve shirt that I SWEAR I have seen him wear before. Hmm.

Verlander comes up, grabs Maroth’s collar from behind… looks like he dumped seeds down the back of his shirt. Oh boys. I love it.

Maroth says his arm feels good, his arm feels good, his arm feels good times 10, Kenny was a big help, blah blah blah.

CRAIG MONROE INTERVIEW
“It’s [his knee] feelin’ better, it’s better than I thought today, so you know what that makes me excited… I wanna be out there and havin’ some fun.”

When asked about Sheffield: “One of the big things, he talks about shrinkin’ the zone, last year you saw us swinging, you know we’re free hackers [no shizz, kid], so maybe we can… shrink the zone…. he [Sheffield] says ‘you’re in control, you gotta allow this guy to make a mistake’.”

So here is MY question. If we’re making an analogy of this, would it look like so?
Kenny Rogers:pitching staff :: Gary Sheffield:hitters

We hear second-hand from Mario that Leyland feels Clevlen and Dlugach are defensive big leaguers right now. If they could hit “quite a bit” they could be starters right now. See, hmm. You can teach hitting but you can’t teach a good eye. You can teach some aspects of defense and some you can’t. The breaking point with these kids will be how much they have and if they just need teachable things, because then they can improve. If they don’t have the, uh, unteachables, they can only go so far.

POLANCO INTERVIEW
Just before commercial break they show him adjusting his headphones, making me wonder how they get them to fit on his enormous head.

“Yeah, I feel pretty good, Mario, right now, I’m working out a lot, taking some extra swings.” I love how he calls Rod and Mario by their names in that very particular way.

On what it’s like playing in the postseason: “Very fun, very fun, it’s like uh, once you’re in the playoffs you forget about everything what happen, I even forget about my shoulder…”

On the shoulder: “It is probably 85% [when he first came back], but I didn’t know how bad it was until the offseason when I was doing nothing and it still hurt, but… I’d say it’s very close to 100% [now].”

When asked about the lineup…
Polanco: You don’t know who to pitch to in this lineup, you have Magglio and Guillen and him [Sheff] and Pudge…
Mario and Rod together: And you, don’t forget about you!
Polanco: Noooo, ah, no.
[with a big grin]

Um, I think I adore him a little bit.

Big cheers from the crowd for Cameron Maybin after a diving catch fighting the sun (he didn’t see it ’til the last minute), and then another sunny but less eventful catch. Rod and Mario talk about how he’s only 19 years old (DAMMIT I AM OLD AND CLEARLY A FAILURE IN LIFE) and people want him up now, etc etc. HE’S JUST A BABY.

Mario: What’s 20 minus 11?
Rod: I don’t know, you the college graduate…. I gotta get my calculator out for that one.

SHEFFIELD INTERVIEW
“Honest guy [Leyland], man, he tells you what he expects out of you, you can’t take short cuts to win championships…”

On what he thinks of Detroit’s hitters: “I think here it’s a more balanced lineup… over there [in New York], you know, we’re lookin’ for a three run homer… if the pitcher’s on, it’s hard to scratch those runs out when you don’t got the guys…”

Did he seriously just say that Detroit’s lineup is better and more balanced than the Yankees? Gary Sheffield= lol. I mean, I love the Tigers and they’re definitely one of the best hitting lineups in baseball, but I think he’s more than a little bitter right now, you know?

Sheffield’s wife is a gospel (or something) singer… she had a concert in Tampa that Sheff invited some of the team and Leyland to.
Rod: Skipper get busy?… He said the Skipper was in there bobbin’ and weavin’…
Mario: Well we saw him doing the moonwalk in Toronto last year…

Neifi comes up to bat with the bases loaded, skitters a hit to third past a diving3Bman, SHOCK AND AMAZE. Two runs in, he doubled. Hm. Neifi delivering? Crazy talk!

NEIFI PEREZ DOES NOT DELIVER IN THE CLUTCH. THIS IS CLEARLY AN ALTERNATE UNIVERSE AND I HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF THESE SHENANIGANS. YOU CAN’T FOOL ME, ALTERNATE UNIVERSE!

I know it doesn't count, but…


Felix Heredia being chewed upon by Samara Pearlstein

Oh Felix. I’m afraid we’re going to have to have The Talk.

In a way, I guess it is good to have The Talk now, while it is still spring and these games don’t count for anything. After all, spring is for getting the kinks out, and I suppose you could and would call giving up a walkoff home run to a wee Yankee a big ol’ kink. There are some who will smile knowingly and move on, content in the general spring-ness of the game, but I’m sorry, Felix, over here you’re getting The Talk. We do it because we want you to succeed and have a happy Tiger experience, you see. We want a happy Tiger experience for all of us.

The Talk is about what we do to players who “give away the game”. It could probably be couched in nicer terms, but I prefer the elegant bluntness of the thing itself and so, Felix, if you give away the game during the real season, I’m afraid that we’re going to have to

feed you to the Roar of the Tigers Mauling Tiger of Righteous Fan Indignation.

If you doubt the veracity of this, just ask Fernando. He knows.

In fact, Felix, do you see that image up there? That’s what we IMAGINE it will look like if, somewhere down the line this year, you do this again.

Now now. There is no need to be upset. That’s why we’re having this Talk now, just to make sure we’re all on the same page and you’re aware of the consequences of your actions. Don’t say it wasn’t your action, Felix. There’s getting beaten by a hitter, and there’s letting a hitter beat you, and you let BRONSON SARDINHA get a homerun in the bottom of the ninth. Bronson Sardinha is a really good prospect who is neither Bronson Arroyo nor a sardine, and this makes him special, but not special enough to be feasting off your pitching, Felix. Have a little self respect, please. I’m just sayin’.

Of course, calm yourself, nobody’s mauling anybody else right now; it’s March! That would be foolish and wacky and counterintuitive! And of course we are never any of those thing here at Roar of the Tigers.

This is all just to inform you. I am just GIVING YOU SOME INFORMATION.

I hope that we can all understand each other now, Felix. You never again pitch like you’re still on the Yankees, and nobody gets eaten. It’s what we all want.

Now that that’s out of the way!

I had initially thought that this was a night game, and was infuriated when I realized it was at 1. Woe! For I have class at 1:30, and it cannot be skipped for a spring training game, because even I cannot rationalize that away. But wait! MLB.tv claimed that there would be NO BLACKOUTS during spring training. Could it be true?

It was. And that is how I spent three hours staring in turns at my computer screen, my canvas, and a naked reclining gentleman by the name of Peter. Definitely one of the odder environments in which I’ve watched Tigers baseball.

In the bustle of getting set up and all that I managed to miss the first three innings and thus most of the interesting pitching but eh, I can’t complain. Felix warning notwithstanding, I do understand that this was just a spring game and thus of little import, but there were a few items of note:

–Couple of scary moments, first when Andrew Miller took a ball off the glove (it looked like?) and then when Brent Clevlen took a ball off the head. Miller was fine, continued to pitch, and the only thing that suffered were the hearts of many Tigers fans, all of which momentarily froze. Clevlen, however, went down like a ton of bricks. In a real “only in the art school” moment, my professor was talking to me on his rounds about the room when this happened, and we both ended up riveted to the screen while Clevlen rolled around a bit and then was helped into a sitting position and eventually off the field. Then we went right back to talking about my painting, as though watching baseball in the middle of class was TOTALLY NORMAL. Love it.

Anyways, it looked to me like the ball caught the back of Clevlen’s helmet, which is a nasty sort of place to get hit… right at the base of his skull, almost. I’m sure you can imagine how that would smart. He was in obvious pain but was up pretty quickly, so I’m hoping it’ll be at worst a mild concussion.

–Zoom looked great. Good speed, pretty good control, nice mixing of his pitches. The Yankee announcers (MLB.tv was getting the YES Network broadcast) did talk about his arm injury, but seemed to think it was wholly related to pitching and did not bring up Guitar Hero. Someone should have informed them.

–Saw some fairly solid defense at first out of Sean Casey, which was a pleasant surprise. Either he was reading the pitches well enough to position himself perfectly, or the catchers were tipping him somehow, because he was taking REALLY good first steps. And for Sean Casey, there is no defense if there are no good first steps, because he is not exactly going to be Carlos Pena with the fleetness of foot and flexibility of leg out there. Anyways, it was nice to see.

–The YES announcers were very praising of Vance Wilson when he came up to bat, which amused me to no end. Perhaps they are fond of him because they recall his Mets days. It did remind me that he had a shockingly good season (for Vance Wilson) last year. I know it would be foolish to expect the same this time around, but what a fun thought, eh?

–Walks good, strikeouts bad. The fact that there were any walks is a point of interest all by itself. It’ll be something to see if two of the big issues from last season are addressed this year. I am of course talking about walks (lack thereof) and errors on the pitcher (oh postseason you wound me so).

So, yeah, we lost, but hopefully Felix will have profited from this little chat and it won’t happen again. I’ve got my eye on you, Felix. The Mauling Tiger of Righteous Fan Indignation is not to be trifled with. Have a good spring!

Roar of the Tigers at Fenway: Game 3 of 3

That’s right, the first pitch in the third game was thrown out by a monkey. Click to actually, y’know, be able to see the monkey.

I’m not sold on the Verlander Is Meeeelllltttiiiiinnngggg theory just yet, but I am considerably more worried now after seeing him live in this game. He just… couldn’t locate. Anything. I guess he was saying after the game that nothing but his fastball was working? Which, again, was what used to happen to him when he first came up to the majors.

Could be any reason, at this point. I tend to think that he did it before because of nerves… all his pitches were working more or less OK in the minors, but when he came up to the big leagues he didn’t trust his stuff as much, and so stuck with his best pitch, i.e. the fastball. And if he didn’t think it was gonna work, it wouldn’t. Psyching himself out a little. And it feels a bit like that’s what’s happening here. He had that bad outing, right after he’d been benched for a start with ‘fatigue’, and even if that benching was planned all along, I’m sure he was none too pleased about it. He’s still young; it’s getting late in the season. The ability is still there. He’s not tapping into it for these last couple of starts. I think it’s the same thing that happened before.

What was with all the pick offs in this series? Two, three? I think two. Pudge got picked off first in this game, which was downright embarrassing. That’s just stupid fundamental stuff that no one should be screwing up.

The 6th inning was a nice surprise. Magglio’s homer caught everyone off guard and almost wholly silenced the ballpark, which had been rumbling nicely after Ortiz’s two-run homer in the previous inning. There was a whole lot of “great Wells, give it right back why dontcha ya bum”-type grumbling going on.

Clevlen’s homer was an absolute bomb. I can’t accurately describe how immense it was. I can still see it if I close my eyes. Seriously. It caught that much air. It cleared the Monster by a lot, probably ended up denting someone’s hood on the Mass Pike. Manny Ramirez was asking around to see if it violated his home run copyright or something. It was a huge, huge, huge freakin’ shot.

It just didn’t feel like the Tigers’ night here. The previous two games were either exciting or tense. This was both, at times, but it never had that “we can really take this” feel that the first two had. I don’t know why. Maybe because it was my fourth game in four days (I, perhaps inadvisedly, went to a CanAm League game the Sunday before this series started) and I was more tired than Scott Proctor’s shoulder. More likely it was the way that Verlander’s lack of control made the game seem eminently lose-able even when the bats got going.

I can’t even pretend to be too upset about it. You all know my divided loyalties, and with the Yankees coming to town for a 5-game series, I at least half wanted to see the Red Sox going in with a win. And the Tigers already had the series, so at least we got that. Two out of three in Fenway ain’t bad.

All the photos from this game can be found here. Definitely the least interesting of the 3 sets, due to a combination of bad light and seats the farthest away from the field of the 3 nights (actually the same as Monday’s seats, but most of Monday’s shots are from BP, so), but eh, dark and grainy photos never stopped me where baseball was concerned.

Oh, and you know what?

Mad crazy props to Vance (formerly referred to ’round these parts as “44th round”) for his two-year deal. The first time he’s ever had a multiple-year deal, is it? And it came when he was 33 years old. Good for him, for sticking with it through all that cruddy up and down with the minors and all that cruddy backing up of Mike Piazza. Good for the Tigers, for recognizing a solid backup catcher when they had one, a guy that every pitcher he works with here seems to like, and a guy who’s actually not hitting all that badly (although, the OBP, yeah. Could stand to improve there).

Of course I absolutely reserve the right to grumble angrily about this contract a year hence when he’s back to hitting .120 and everything is sulk sulk sulk woe.

Roar of the Tigers at Fenway: Game 1 of 3

OK. I have collected my thoughts and uploaded my photos and now, the game. All photos in here can and probably should be clicked for the bigger view. If you want to cut to the chase, all the shots from the game are right here. Oh, and I shouldn’t even have to say this, but you know, feel free to download the photos and enjoy them and whatnot, but if you’re gonna post them on your blog/website, please just drop a link of credit either to here or my Flickr page. It’s just common internet courtesy. You all already knew that.

Since I can’t go to BP today and I don’t know what the deal on Wednesday is going to be, I dragged my friend Jess (who is a Red Sox fan and puts up with me only because we’ve been friends since before either one of us could walk) to Fenway as early as possible. We got there about 10 minutes before the gates opened, which gave us a chance to look around at the already-considerable crowd. Although the majority, of course, were in Red Sox gear, there were a good number of Tigers hats and jerseys floating around. Certainly more than last year. I had on my neon orange Tigers hat and my Ingecredible! shirt. I had my camera. I was READY.

We immediately went down to the field to see what was going on. The Red Sox were just finishing up their BP, so most everyone was over on their side of the field and we were able to snag spots on the back of the Tigers dugout with relative ease. I started pointing out Tigers to Jess in a running commentary. “That’s Craig Monroe and that’s Todd Jones, he’s the closer, and that’s Pudge over there by Ortiz and that’s Brandon Inge and there’s Jeremy Bonderman and I think that’s Gene Lamont and oh look that’s John Keating, he’s like, um, he’s like Tom Caron on NESN only for FSN Detroit, oh hey there’s Justin Verlander.” Bless her heart, she at least acted interested. I was mostly rambling because being in a position to take photos of baseball players that close up makes me insane. Uh, more insane than usual.

The unintended consequence of this was that I was overheard by the kids who were standing near me. These kids show up at baseball games armed with childish wiles and an unquenchable thirst for autographs. We call them the little autograph hounds. They have Goals. They want This Player and That Player and they will do anything to get those signatures. These kids are DRIVEN. They also freak me the hell out, but maybe that’s just me.

They’re usually all local fans and don’t particularly care about the players whose signatures they’re begging for. Since these particular urchins were Red Sox fans, they also didn’t even recognize many of the Detroit players. Most of these kids could pick out Pudge and Dmitri (although I heard a couple yelling at Fernando Rodney and calling him Dmitri… only off by like a foot and a half, guys!), but they didn’t know anyone else.

So as I was pointing out Tigers to Jess, these ravenous little beasts were listening. The one next to me turned around, eyes wide and innocent. He showed me a ball he had gotten signed by David Ortiz. He wanted signatures from Pudge and Verlander. What a cute kid, right? I AM NOT FOOLED. I KNOW YOUR WAYS, AUTOGRAPH HOUND.

“Hey. Are you from Detroit?”

I explained that I was from around here, but my family was from Detroit and I went to school out there.

“Cool. So who’s that?”

And we were off. I spent the rest of the time shooting and identifying Tigers for a small collection of kids who would then immediately begin calling to the player. We’d see a guy walking towards the dugout (and therefore us) and the kid would say, “Who’s that? Who’s that?” I’d say, “Oh, that’s Placido Polanco,” and the kids would, in a piping chorus, start shouting, “Mr. Polanco! Mr. Polanco!”, waving the baseballs they wanted signed like air traffic controller lightsticks.

Autographs are fun and all (last year I got Jason Johnson, Vic Darensbourg and Curtis Granderson to sign my program basically just by standing there and saying their names), but this signature-begging act is way too absurd for me. I just like to stand there and take photos.

All this was fairly exciting, but not nearly as exciting as when a curly head of hair popped out of the Tigers dugout and wandered over towards the batting cage. At first I only noticed the curls and the loud shirt and didn’t pay him any mind, thinking (I am ashamed of this) that it was only Dan Shaughnessy. Then he turned around.


IT WAS THE BIRD!

The Bird! Wearing a shirt printed all over with sharks and messing with the guys waiting to hit, chucking baseballs at the coach pitching to them. I know he’s from Massachusetts originally and lives here now, so I guess he just decided that as this was the only time the Tigers come to Fenway this season he may as well show up at the game. To say that I freaked out was an understatement. THE BIRD!

Meanwhile Justin Verlander, looking charmingly awkward, was getting interviewed by Tina Cervasio of NESN. They obligingly conducted their interview right on the dugout rail, so I got some shots of him. Tigerlicious delight. Leyland kept popping up and down the dugout steps. Carlos Guillen was signing for a whole bunch of kids further down the wall. The kids next to me kept saying, “Who’s that? Who’s that?”

Then, directly in front of us, two older-looking heads appeared on the rail. The kids must have assumed they were just coaches (boring) and thus not worth bothering. Just then Pudge came up to the wall away from the dugout and everyone leapt over seats and railings to beg for his autograph. “Mr. Rodriguez! Mr. Rodriguez!”

I snapped a couple shots of Pudge, then looked back over at the guys right in front of us. I did a double-take. I grabbed Jess by the arm.

“HOLY CATS. It’s John Henry and Dave Dombrowski!”


So it was.

They were just hanging out there, watching BP and chatting. Catching up from their Marlins days, I assume. I took a few photos because, even though they were right there, I didn’t want to say anything. They were deep in conversation and didn’t look like they wanted to be bugged; they mostly had their backs to the stands and seemed to be working on the assumption that they wouldn’t be recognized. I respect that, yo. That’s why I like taking photos– it’s a nice, unobtrusive way to spazz the f’ out about the fact that the owner and GM of your two favorite teams are standing right in your face.

Of course nothing escapes the autograph hounds for too long. After about 20 minutes one of the little grubs finally wigged to who he was looking at and started yelling, “Mr. Henry! Mr. Henry!” Waving a baseball around in the air, of course. Henry and Dombrowski quickly shook hands and Henry disappeared into thin air, a trick that everyone in the Red Sox front office has to master in order to survive here. Dombrowski turned to go back down into the Tigers dugout.

Figuring, What the hell, I called out, “Great job with the team this year, Dave!”

He looked up, slightly startled and amused. I really don’t think he expected anyone to recognize him in Fenway. He smiled, said, “Thanks!”, and away he went.

To say that this made my month would be highly accurate. I am that easily pleased.

Same deal with Vance Wilson. He was heading down into the dugout and I yelled, “Hi Vance!”, because I am a genius and that is what I thought to yell when I saw him. I believe I threw in a cheesy little wave. There was a second where he was almost completely thrown that someone, in Fenway, knew his name (when he didn’t have his game jersey on yet), and he stopped at the top of the steps for a second. Sounding somewhere between gratified and amused he said, “Hi!” back.

We also got a smile from Roman Colon (I yelled something along the lines of, “Hey, keep it up, Roman!”) and a stare from Omar Infante, who saw me pointing my camera in his direction.

And, of course, I took about a thousand photos of Brandon Inge. I think I showed great restraint in not uploading them all. He didn’t come over to the dugout at any point when we were there; this is probably for the greater good of the Universe, because cat knows what sort of insane reaction may have occurred.

As for the game, you all know what happened. Granderson’s leadoff triple was amazing. Beckett just never located much all game, although I was disturbed to see that despite his attempts to run up his own pitch count, several Tigers were STILL SWINGING AT THE FIRST PITCH.

Zumaya was crazy to watch. It seems like lots of people in Fenway hadn’t heard of him, because when he first came out and starting throwing, the entire crowd began muttering and oohing and aaahing. It was pretty funny.

Again, all the photos are here and you should go see them because I haven’t posted nearly all of them here, and they are full of Tiger goodness.

But, I must run, I have to meet my friend Beth at 6 for tonight’s game. Game 2 to come!