LAKELAND, Fla. —- The Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland finished up the last minute detail of closing out the 2013 Grapefruit League season and finished with a 3-3 tie against the Tampa Bay Rays.
The bags were packed and loaded on the truck and Leyland and his staff along with the Detroit Tigers boarded the team’s bus that would take them to the Tampa International Airport for the flight to the 10,000 lakes of the state of Minnesota.
The Tigers are projected to be the favorite to win the American League Central Division but Leyland is not getting excited about the prediction he believes it makes good reading while sitting in the airport waiting for plane to arrive at the gate.
The Tigers almost have everything they need in on their roster to make any mystic looking into the crystal-ball like genus.
The starting pitcher should dominate, the hitting will always be a threat and the defense will be improved the only area that could give the Tigers a problem and that is a relief pitcher that can be a closer.
A closer needs to have nerves of steel and ice water flowing in his veins and be able to command his pitches and well Leyland and the Tigers closer will be done the like lottery.
Maybe a reliable crystal ball interrupter should be in constant communication with the Tiger bullpen and with Leyland.
The spring experiment with Bruce Rondon did not work out for the Tigers; he just could not command his fastball. He finished the spring season with an earned run average of 5.84 in 13 appearances and the opponents’ batting average a robust .327.
Both Leyland and Tigers General Manager Dave Dombroski like Rondon and expect him to work hard in Toledo.
“We like him a lot; he’s thrown the ball very well at times this spring,” Dombroski said.
“He is as close, just not there,” Detroit Tigers catcher Alex Avila said. “He is as close as you can be without being there.”
“You guys need to get off the closer kick,” Leyland said. “The closer would be one issue that’s just not settled. But I don’t think there is any sense in making a big deal about right now.”
Not a big deal-okay so when does it become a big deal?
When does Leyland become concern?
Answering the call in the bullpen will be either, Phil Coke, Darin Downs and Drew Smyly will be the pitchers from the left side. If Leyland decides to go to the right side he will be calling and talking to Joaquin Benoit, Octavio Dotel, Al Albuquerque or Brayan Villarreal or anybody else that answers the bullpen phone.
It will be an interesting first week for the Tigers and the bullpen.
After opening the season against the Minnesota Twins April 1st, 3rd and 4th at Target Field in downtown Minneapolis, the Tigers come home to Comerica Park and the city of Detroit to open the home portion of the 2013 American League season Friday April 5, 2013 against the New York Yankees beginning at 1 p.m.
Hey somebody in the bullpen-answer the phone!
About the Author
Written by Mel Suiter
Graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2002 and have been working as a beat writer for The Ypsilanti Courier covering Eastern Michigan University football and men's basketball during my school career and after graduation. I like the Mid-American Conference and the rest of the mid-major conferences.